The COVID-19 shutdowns have kept teams on the sidelines, but it hasn’t slowed down offseason player movements. Both basketball programs at Long Beach State have actually improved their rosters during the shutdown.
Topping the list of impressive additions is the men’s basketball team landing Raymond Hawkins III — a transfer who spent one year at Alabama.
“It was like one of those blind dating shows my kids are watching,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said of recruiting Hawkins and others during the shutdown. “They have to come for the right reasons because there’s no looking at the locker rooms or stuff like that.”
Hawkins is a 6’9” 240-pound forward who was a four-star recruit out of high school, and he’s the most highly touted transfer to come to LBSU since James Ennis in 2011. Ennis brought many professional scouts to Walter Pyramid and went on to play in the NBA.
“Raymond fills a definite need for us and you just don’t fine a lot of guys that size,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said. “He’s a big man who is both athletic and physical. We love his versatility — being able to play physical in the post and also step out and face people up.”
Hawkins is returning to California where he attended Bishop O’Dowd High in Oakland and led his team to a Northern California Open Division championship. After he transferred to Findlay Prep in Nevada as a senior, he quickly became the No. 3 prospect in the state. Hawkins averaged 14.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game in one season at Findlay Prep.
Alabama coach Nate Oats made Hawkins part of his first recruiting class, but Hawkins only played five minutes in five games last season.
“Both (Hawkins) and coach Oats said he just had a bad start there,” Monson said. “Coming out of prep school he didn’t do anything for months and came in out of shape. He just never caught back up. By the end of the year he was doing fine, but they already had their rotation… Now I’m calling him two or three times a week and he’s always out for a run. He learned from that and is intent on being in the best shape of his life right now.”
At LBSU last season, freshman Josh Morgan was named Big West Defensive Player of the Year after setting multiple school and Big West Conference records for blocks. The 6’11” center transferred to USC last month, leaving a huge hole in the middle of LBSU’s front court for Hawkins to fill.
“We expect Raymond to help elevate us to an elite front court in the Big West,” Monson said.
Check out http://simplybasketballHQ.com for all NorCal Basketball Content Ray holds offers from Kansas St, Colorado, Colorado St, LMU, Fairfield, and Howard …
Hawkins will have to go through an NCAA appeal process to be eligible for next season, but Monson said he feels good about his chances to join Jadon Jones and Teddy Ochieng as the cornerstone of this recruiting class.
Jones blossomed into a quality scoring guard at St. Anthony High here in Long Beach where he averaged 19 points and six rebounds as a senior.
Ochieng is a 6’8” forward from Kenya who has already played at Cal State Northridge and Panola Community College in Texas. He averaged double figures and nearly seven rebounds per game at Panola before a season-ending injury.
LBSU women’s basketball also added three transfers from top programs around the nation in Kambrayia Elzy, Imani Lacy and Kamryn Lemon.
Elzy is a junior transfer from UNLV where she played two seasons. The 5’7” guard was a two-time champion at Mission Oak High in Tulare.
Lacy is also a junior transfer from Nevada, where she averaged 9.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 53 games.
“We recruited (Lacy) out of high school and have always felt she would be a perfect fit at Long Beach,” LBSU coach Jeff Cammon said. “Her athleticism, length, versatility, and toughness will be a huge asset to our program.”
Lastly, Lemon is a junior guard from Oklahoma who averaged 6.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game in one year with the Sooners.