GW men’s basketball coach Tom Penders has added four freshman recruits to the program and is attempting to bring in a fifth player from Belarus.
Penders confirmed that guard Dorien Brown, forwards Jason Smith and Andry Sola, and center Albert Roma have accepted scholarships and enrolled in classes this week.
Valeri Khamenia, a 6-7, 205-pound forward, also has accepted a scholarship but is having trouble leaving his native Belarus, according to the GW athletic department. Penders could not comment on Khamenia, only confirming he hadn’t arrived on campus yet. NCAA rules forbid a coach from commenting publicly on players under active recruitment.
Khamenia played at the Republic College of Olympic Reserve in Minsk, the same school senior forward Yegor Mescheriakov attended.
Brown, a 6-5, 222-pound guard, originally was recruited by Penders when he was head coach at the University of Texas. After Penders became head coach at GW, Brown was recruited by several other schools before settling on GW.
Brown is from Voorhees, N.J. and attended St. Thomas More Prep School in Connecticut, where he averaged 16 points and five rebounds a game as a senior. As a junior, he played with GW sophomore guard Mike King.
“He is solid physically, he’s strong,” Penders said of Brown. “He can play guard or small forward and he’s an excellent shooter. He carries the 222 (pounds) better than I ever would.”
Smith, Sola and Roma were recruited by former coach Mike Jarvis and decided to attend GW even after Jarvis became head coach at St. John’s University.
“We put the kids in touch with Tom (Penders) over the summer, he had good conversations with them, and they remained with their commitment to GW,” Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz said.
Penders said he talked with Sola, Roma and Smith a few times this summer but had a difficult time contacting Roma, who spent the summer in Spain.
The 6-8, 210-pound Smith averaged 13 points and seven rebounds in his senior season at the Winchendon School in Massachusetts.
“Jason is an excellent athlete who runs the floor well,” Penders said. “He’s very good around the basket. He can rebound, block shots and he’s still growing.”
Sola, a 6-7, 205-pound guard/forward from Ontario, Canada, averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds in his senior season.
“(Sola)’s a lefty with good quickness,” Penders said. “He is a very confident player. I love players that have confidence. You want your freshmen to feel like the college game isn’t a big jump, even though it is.”
Roma is a 7-0, 225-pound center from Balenya, Spain, who attended the Winchendon School with Smith. Roma averaged 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks a game in his senior year.
“It’s hard to tell about the impact they might have until you actually see them play and work with them,” Penders said of the freshmen.
With J.J. Brade’s departure late last spring because of academic reasons, eight scholarship players remain from last year’s team. If Khamenia does attend GW, all of the program’s 13 scholarships will be filled, Kvancz said.
-Dustin Gouker contributed to this report.