By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (May 14, 2015) — Tarleton State added a third name and a lot of scoring power to its 2015 recruiting class Thursday.
The 2015 NCAA Division II semifinalist Texans have signed 6-3 combo guard Louis Baltazar, a 23.6 point per game scorer who is transferring to Tarleton from Brulington County College in New Jersey. He was a third-team All-American, first-team all-region and first-team all-conference pick at Burlington County, where he was the eighth leading scorer in the nation while shooting a whopping 60.8 percent from the field.
Baltazar, a native of the Bronx in New York, chose Tarleton over a host of Division I mid-major offers from the likes of Florida Atlantic, San Francisco, Missouri State, Fordham, Iona, Quinnipiac, Morgan State and Loyola Marymount.
“I could have gone to a Division I school, but I wanted to go somewhere I could compete for a championship,” said Baltazar in a Thursday evening phone interview. “The fact they reached the ‘Final Four’ made them stand out more than any other school.”
Listing attacking the basket, spot shooting and game IQ among the strengths of his game, Baltazar, who scored 40 points in one game and 39 in another last season, hopes to remind Tarleton fans of another Bronx product – 2014-15 Tarleton leading scorer Mo Lee.
Tarleton head coach Lonn Reisman, who has guided the Texans to 591 wins and three NCAA South Central Region titles, does not shy away from the similarities between the two.
“He’s athletic, can really drive the ball to the hole and brings a great level of basketball maturity to our team,” said Reisman of Baltazar, sounding as if he was describing Lee. “(Baltazar) is a high-character young man with outstanding ability. Usually a player of his ability is only available as a Division I transfer and you get them for one year, but we’re blessed to have him for two years and see how he continues to develop.”
Baltazar is equally eager for the opportunity to develop under Reisman.
“I truly feel like he’s the right coach for me to play for and develop under. I believe he wants the best for me and will push me to the limit to get the best out of me,” said Baltazar. “He has a high level of confidence, but with him it’s not just words. He has the trophies and the accomplishments to back it up. He’s proven he can do it.”
Baltazar joins a growing recruiting class that includes highly-touted high school forwards in Anthony Davis of Lewisville and Josh Hawley of Irving MacArthur (related story here). The juco star will be part of a backcourt that includes returning starter Michael Hardge and backup Deshawn Riddick, both point guards.
Small forward Nosa Ebomwonyi and power forward EJ Reed are other returning starters, while key reserve Malcolm Hamilton will also be back for the reigning Lone Star Conference and South Central Region champions.
A sports management major, Baltazar was named Team MVP and earned his team’s scholar-athlete award at Burlington County.
“The campus was also an important part of my decision, and the support system, too,” Baltazar said. “I came on my visit at the beginning of May, and I knew right then that Tarleton was the best place for me.”