The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

August 7, 2012

MSU’s Hill going to Fairmont

FAIRMONT — Jarred Calhoun and the Fairmont State Fighting Falcons basketball team can add another star to their starting five.

On Monday, Mountain State University star Isaiah Hill decided to take his talents to Fairmont.

Hill, a native of Aylett, Va., spent last season with MSU, where he led the Cougars to the NAIA Division I Fab Four. During his quest last season, the 6-foot-9 Hill earned third-team All-America honors at forward while averaging 13.6 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Since the Mountain State program was shut down last month, Hill had to select where he wanted to go.

“We were lucky in getting Isaiah because he played for Mountain State with a very good coach who was the winningest coach in West Virginia, Bob Bolen,” Calhoun said. “Their school shut down, so they don’t have basketball this year. So, Isaiah came and visited and then fell in love with the place. The town is very similar to Beckley, where they love basketball, where at Mountain State fans were very good, very energetic and loved the program. I think you’ll see a lot with that at Fairmont State, where it’s a basketball town. People love basketball and if you put a good product out for them to enjoy, more talent will come.

Calhoun added, “Big men are very hard to find, at any level. When I was at West Virginia, they were still hard to find. With a guy like Isaiah who has one year left and a ton of experience, and an All-American last year, this really, really helps our team.”

Hill can score both inside and out, and he is expected to carry the defense for the Falcons this season.

“We anticipate him coming in and being a double-double guy,” Calhoun said while getting excited about his new addition. “We expect him to average double figures with points and rebounding. He blocks a lot of shots and with him playing alongside a guy who was 7-2 that blocked the majority of the shots, Isaiah is very capable of changing the game defensively because he is so long and athletic and he’s very active. He’s a very quick jumper around the rim, he can get up and grab rebounds while putting them back right away. I think when you put him alongside Isaac Thornton and Brendan Cooper, you have three of the best players in the league.”

Just over a few months ago, Calhoun notched Cooper, who was a star at Lakeland Community College. Cooper earned first team NJCAA All-America honors last season, while averaging 17.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists as a sophomore.

Fairmont State also added Malik Stith who played three seasons at St. John's in New York. Isaac Thornton, Fairmont’s star from last season is complimented well with these two men. Thornton the three-time All-WVIAC honoree added 21.5 points-per-game last season.

“I really like our recruiting class and I think he (Hill) rounds out the class,” said Calhoun. “You have those three guys then you throw in Malik Stith, a guy who’s been in the Big East and has played three years, it gives you a lot of experience.”

“We also have a lot of younger guys like Trevor Evans and Tommy Scales,” Calhoun added. “We can bring those guys up a little slower now that we have some veteran guys.”

So far, FSU has put together a recruiting class that is comparable to a Division I program.

“I really don’t think our success with recruiting is a secret,” Calhoun said. “I think, No. 1, you really have to work at recruiting. Our expectations on our staff are given from within because we have high expectations. We expect to win right away and we’re chasing West Liberty and Charleston. Those are the two teams who have dominated the league the past couple of years. Those are the teams we’re trying to beat.”

With all of the talent knocking on FSU’s front door, all the Falcons have to do is listen to Calhoun and the success will follow.

“I can’t wait to get started,” said Calhoun. “I know my staff can’t wait to get started and we still have to continue with our approach where you have to approach every day without wasting any time. If you don’t waste days, then you can look back and not have any regrets. That’s my selling point to these guys. We have to come in every day and work. We can’t approach days while taking days off.”

— E-mail: jharris@timeswv.com;

Twitter.com/JarrodHarrisTWV.

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