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Seven Long Beach State Programs Welcome New Signing Classes

Seven Long Beach State programs have signed student-athletes to National Letters of Intent during the fall signing period.

Men’s Basketball

Coach Dan Monson reached outside of California for three of the five players in his 2019 signing class that includes guards Max De Geest and Rodney Rhoden, forward Romelle Mansel and big men Trever Irish and Joshua Morgan.

“Losing six seniors, we needed to add size and shooting to complement our returners, and we feel very confident we have done that,” Monson said in an official release.

New Zealand native Max De Geest is a good perimeter shooter with international experience. The 6’3” guard won MVP honors and a silver medal at the 2018 FIBA 3×3 U18 Asia Cup with the national team.

Trevor Irish is currently at Central Arizona College where he shot 62.6 percent from the floor while averaging 14.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.37 blocks per game. The 6’11” 240-pound Maine native will be asked to contribute immediately with the departure of Temidayo Yussuf and Mason Riggins.

Rodney Rhoden is a 6’5” combo guard from Daytona Beach who led his Mainland High team to the 2018 FHSAA Class 7A region final while averaging 17 pointer per game last season.

Romelle Mansel is an athletic 6’9” forward from Bernard High in Playa Del Rey, and Monson said that Joshua Morgan (6’11”) from Sheldon High in Sacramento is one of the best high school shot blockers he’s seen in years.

Men’s Volleyball

The National Champions signed six freshman and one sophomore transfer for the 2020 season. They will be the leaders of the next generation after the graduation of the TJ DeFalco and Josh Tuaniga class.

“This is a highly talented group with an exceptional volleyball IQ and the ability to compete,” Coach Alan Knipe said.

St. Anthony senior Aidan Grosz is a 6’6” local product who won gold at the Junior Nationals last year with Balboa Bay Volleyball, and setter Aidan Knipe is coach Knipe’s son who helped the 2018 USA Boys Youth National Team to the NORCECA Championship win silver. Libero Mason Briggs spent the last five years playing with USA Volleyball with Knipe.

Nate Harlan is a 6’7” outside hitter from Tesoro High who also played with Balboa Bay where he won gold at Junior Nationals in 2017 and 2018. Zach Schneider is a 6’6” outside hitter from New York who has won two Section VI Championships at Lockport High. Karl Stenlund is a 6’8” outside hitter from Beckman High who made the All-Tournament team with Orange Coast Volleyball Club at the Junior Nationals.

Grant Marocchi is the only sophomore in the class, and the 6’7” middle blocker is a transfer from Irvine Valley College.


The Dirtbags stayed in the region by signing four pitchers and four position players from California, Arizona and Nevada.

“This 2019 recruiting class should satisfy some definitive needs and also upgrade our depth and create more internal competition,” Coach Troy Buckley said.

On the mound, Joey Estes is a two-time Perfect Game Preseason Underclass All-American pitcher and four-year letterwinner at Paraclete High. The right-hander played in the 2018 Area Code Games at Blair Field after he struck out 97 batters in 90 innings during a breakout sophomore season.

Devereaux Harrison is another top right-handed pitching prospect who played in the Area Code Games. He had a 1.19 ERA for Vacaville High in Northern California. Luis Ramirez struck out 46 in 24 innings at Salesian High as a right-handed junior, and Shane Spencer is the other right-hander who reached three consecutive Class 4A state title games with Basic High in Nevada.

In the field, Toren Craig is one of the best fielding junior college shortstops in the region. Last year, he scored 32 runs and had 11 multi-hit games while leading South Mountain Community College in Arizona to the NJCAA Division I Region 1 finals.

Nolan Kutcher is a four-year letterwinner in the outfield at Saugus High where he had a 1.023 OPS as a junior. Fellow outfielder Jesse Lopez scored 57 runs in 40 games last year at Cypress College, and outfielder Alex Pimentel hit .388 with 15 stolen bases at Villa Park last season.


Coach Kim Sowder signed two freshman field players, two freshman pitchers and two junior college transfers for a 2020 class that she said will bring talent, versatility, power and speed that will contribute right away.

Sara Olson is a speedy outfielder from West Ranch High, the school both Lauren and Julia Lombardi attended. She has hit over .500 in each of the last two seasons, with 10 stolen bases each year. Kylie Cox is a middle infielder who has led Gregori High of Modesto to three straight undefeated league championships.

Shelby Frutoz is a right-handed pitcher who struck out 550 batters in three seasons at Turlock High where she also hit .392 with 11 home runs. Morgan Quinlan is a left-handed pitcher from Chula Vista who spent two years at Mater Dei High.

Paige Hallam is returning to California after two years at Howard College in Texas where the middle infielder earned all-conference and all-region honors. Outfielder Rylie Seip started at Santiago Canyon College and at Canyon High School. As a freshman, she hit .458 with 13 home runs, 42 RBI and 31 stolen bases to earn NFCA All-American honors.

Women’s Basketball

Christina Thames signed an NLI to join the Beach next season. The 6’4″ forward from Las Vegas averaged 10 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks per game as a junior at Shadow Ridge High. Over two seasons, Thames has over 100 blocks and 300 rebounds.

“It’s not easy to find size, and when you see someone with the natural gifts that Christina has, we jumped at the opportunity to bring her to the Beach,” coach Jeff Cammon said.

Men’s Golf

Coach Michael Wilson has three Southern California natives coming to the Beach for next season. Owen Avrit from Arroyo Grande High won the 2018 Future Champions Golf (FCG) International Junior Championship and the FCG NorCal Championship. Trip Morris from Notre Dame High finished second at the 2018 Toyota Tour Cup Los Serranos, and Isaac Rodea of Torrey Pines High took the top spot at the 2018 AJGA Carlton Oaks and at the 2018 SDJGA Golden State.

Women’s Golf

Coach Joey Cerulle also welcomes three student-athletes from California with Chloe Carraway, Vanessa Richani, and Khameryn Utu. Carraway is the only player to reach the CIF-SS Finals in Tustin High history, Richani is a three-time qualifier for the CIF State Championships and Utu was a medalist at the 2017 SCPGA Junior World Qualifier to earn an invitation to the IMG Academy Junior World Championships at Torrey Pines.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.