By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (May 11, 2015) — Tarleton State has landed two prized high school recruits not normally available to Division II teams.
Of course, Tarleton isn’t your typical Division II men’s basketball program.
Fresh off a school-record 31 wins and second national semifinal appearance, the Texans have added two high school prospects as part of their growing 2015 recruiting class.
Anthony Davis, a four-year letterman and three-time first-team all-district selection at 6A Lewisville, and Josh Hawley, the District 9-6A MVP and a first-team all-state selection for state semifinalist Irving MacArthur, have each signed letters of intent with the Texans.
“Both are outstanding young men with great character, and they both love the game of basketball and play with a passion,” said veteran head coach Lonn Reisman, who has 591 wins at Tarleton and 612 in his career. “That’s very important to us. We never want to recruit on talent alone. It’s important that we find young men who are good for our team chemistry and good representatives of Tarleton State University.”
Davis stands 6-7 and weighs 215 pounds, while Hawley is 6-6, 180. They faced off against one another as juniors in the opening round of the 2014 6A playoffs, Hawley and MacArthur eliminating Davis and Lewisville.
But they will be teammates on a Tarleton team that went 31-3 and won its third South Central Region championship in school history last season. The Texans also won the outright regular season championship in the Lone Star Conference, rated by BennettRank as the toughest league in the nation.
Both will join Tarleton’s rotation of big men that includes returning starter E.J. Reed, as well as LSC Academic Player of the Year Jakob Damstra of Dublin and Plano big-man Sawyer Kipp, who was redshirted last season.
Hawley averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds as a senior, leading star-studded MacArthur in both. His all-state recognition came from the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, which also named him first-team all-region in Region II-6A. He helped MacArthur to a 27-8 record overall.
“I like the environment and I love the basketball program,” said Hawley of choosing Tarleton. “The team chemistry between the guys seems really special. That’s what I liked the most.”
Hawley was immediately impressed with Reisman.
“He’s a winner. Just a winner, that’s it,” Hawley said of his first impression of Reisman. “That’s what I want to be around are winners.”
Hawley put up his biggest single-game numbers against Carrolton RL Turner, scoring 26 points while collecting 14 rebounds and eight steals. He was ranked as high as No. 69 in the state during his senior year by TexasHoops.com.
Davis chose Tarleton despite receiving an offer last summer from Southland Conference champ Stephen F. Austin of the Division I ranks. He averaged 15.8 points and 6.7 rebounds as a senior and led Lewisville in both categories the last three years. His biggest scoring outburst produced 26 points against Duncanville.
“I went there on my weekend visit and just felt real comfortable right away,” said Davis, who as a junior was ranked as high as No. 29 in the state by TexasHoops.com. “That’s what’s most important to me is knowing I will be somewhere I’m comfortable and continue my development as a person and as a player.”
The fact Tarleton has been closely stalking a national championship also helped sway the Lewisville star.
“Each year Tarleton gets closer and closer. Seeing they made the ‘Final Four’ means the next step is the national championship,” Davis said. “I want to be part of the next group that comes in and gets them over the top.”
Hawley plans to study business and marketing at Tarleton, while Davis says he will major in kinesiology.
“They are both very goal oriented toward getting their degrees,” said Reisman. “I believe they will be good student-athletes and positive role models for others on our campus.”
Point guard Michael Hardge and small forward Nosa Ebomwonyi join power forward Reed as returning starters for the Texans, who also have key reserves coming back in small forward Malcolm Hamilton and point guard Deshawn Riddick.
“Both these young men have outstanding ability and we really look forward to them becoming part of the basketball family we have in place here at Tarleton,” Reisman said. “We feel like they have the ability to contribute immediately and are looking forward to seeing progress on and off the court the next four years.”