EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE men's basketball Head Coach Jon Harris has added a trio of recruits to his roster during the early signing period.
Kenyon Duling (Chicago), Micah Thomas (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) and Jake LaRavia (Indianapolis, Indiana) have each agreed to join the Cougars for the 2019-2020 season.
"We could not be happier with our 2019 class," Harris said. "Above all else, we've added high-character individuals that will excel academically and entrench themselves in our community. In terms of basketball, these young men are winners, simply stated. Two state champions and another from one of the top programs in the state of Indiana. They all possess the drive to excel, not only in sport, but in life which is what we look for when recruiting."
Duling, a 6-foot, 2-inch guard, is playing his freshman year at Cowley County Community College in Arkansas City, Kansas. Duling helped Morgan Park High School to a pair of state championships and the Mustangs were 25-9 during his senior season. He is a two-time All-State and All-City selection. He is a part of the Caron Butler Elite AAU program.
"KD will be a great addition to our locker room," Harris said. "He hails from Chicago powerhouse Morgan Park. More than anything else, he is a competitor. He has a unique ability to raise the level of those around him. Some call it leadership; we call it influence. He can motivate people, and that is a quality that cannot be understated. On the floor, he's an aggressive on-ball defender that wants to take the big shots on the other end. He also has a strong IQ for the game and will be productive with or without the ball in his hands."
"The coaching staff made me feel at home," Duling said of his commitment. "I have trust in them that not only will we win, but they will help me develop my game. I just felt it was the perfect fit for me."
"SIUE is getting a winner," Morgan Park Head Coach Nick Irvin said of Duling. "He understands what hard work is about and understands what it takes to make the transition to Division I."
Thomas, a 6-0 point guard, comes to SIUE from Putnam City North High School, where he led the school to its first-ever 6A state title. Thomas was named Most Valuable Player of the state tournament. He also earned a spot on the All-Region Eight team as well as All-Conference and All-City honors. Thomas plays with the Oklahoma Run PWP AAU program. He was third in assist-to-turnover ratio in the Under Armour Circuit in 2018.
"We are excited to have Micah join us," Harris said. "He is a point guard, in the truest sense, but also a very good scorer. He plays the game with great poise and tempo. His vision and court awareness allow him to make plays that most do not even see. His determination and will to succeed carried PC North to a state championship a year ago. Winning is in his DNA."
"I signed with SIUE because of how much of a genuine fellowship the school and basketball program has," said Thomas. "My future goal being a Cougar is to cut down nets and obtain a degree."
"Micah Thomas is the ultimate team player," Putname City North Boy's Basketball Coach and Athletic Director Ryan Wagner said. "I have never coached a young man of Micah's character in my 30 years of coaching. During Micah's tenure here at Putnam City North, he has a winning percentage of 79 percent (64-17), been to the state tournament all three years and was crowned the state tournament MVP and state champion in 2018. Our program would not be among the elite of 6A programs without his tenacity and competitive drive to continually make himself and our program the best in the state. Micah will bring a style of play to SIUE that will raise the level of play of his team mates while leading the program to new heights. In his career, Micah has scored over 1,500 pts and over 500 assists and has won numerous honors for his basketball ability."
"SIUE is getting an unbelievable young man," Oklahoma Run PWP Head Coach Rod Thompson said. "He is smooth, gifted and can initiate the offense. He is a very skilled-player and can really shoot the basketball. We always preach "fit" when it comes to recruiting. We felt like SIUE was the perfect fit for him."
LaRavia, a 6-8 forward, comes to SIUE from Lawrence Central High School. LaRavia had a break-out summer for Game Time Thomas AAU. He averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds per game. He also connected on 42 percent of his shots.
"Jake joins us from the Hoosier state, and we're thrilled to welcome him to our family," Harris said. "At 6-8, he possesses a very high skill level and IQ for the game. His ability to make plays off the bounce and knock down perimeter shots will make him a matchup problem for most guys his size. His versatility on both ends of the floor will greatly enhance our offensive and defensive schemes. We came away most impressed with his overall presence on the court. He carries himself in a way that exudes confidence."
"I chose SIUE because of the great school, coaching staff, players, and community," said LaRavia. "The coaches really reached out to me in every way they could, and I bonded with every single one of them. The team had a great vibe of friendship and togetherness that brought me to choose SIUE over all the other schools. And overall the school is the community which brings in fans to all the games supporting the team which is great. My future goal is to play professional basketball after I finish my four years of college majoring in business. I can't wait until I am a Cougar."
"Jacob is a good ballplayer and a smart player," Lawrence Central Head Coach All Gooden said. "He is a great shooter and a good defensive rebounder."