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Posted On: 01/19/17 3:35 PM
AAU Coach Rod Pierce spent his Wednesday transporting three young men he truly believes in to a college basketball game.
Laz Toliver, Kris Harris, and Dominic Parks spent the evening in attendance at Mount St. Joseph (12-4) hosting Transylvania.
“I looked The Mount as a great place for us to start,” said Coach Pierce. “I have known (Head) Coach Toby Carrigan and (Assistant Coach) Justin Ray for quite some time now. I know they are great teachers of the game.”
All three seniors play for the Springfield HS Wildcats (10-1).
“It was fun,” said Dominic Parks. “I enj0yed it. We saw a lot of the other buildings.”
This visit was Parks’ first time as an invited guest of a college basketball program.
“I liked it there,” said Kris Harris. “I liked it a lot. I liked the coaching a lot.”
Harris has seen several college campuses (Akron, Kent State). His cousin, DaVonte James plays football for Kent State. Harris especially loved the downtown campus of Akron. Still he enjoyed the modest, cozy MSJ campus too.
“Honestly the campus is fine for me,” said Harris. “It doesn’t really matter if they are small. It was a good game. I liked it up there.”
The senior guard was encouraged by the invested crowd.
“It was a big (crowd) for real, in my eyes,” said Harris. “The students were there. Most of the crowd was students.”
After a Mount St. Joseph loss both coaches talked to the trio of players.
“That was my first visit ever,” said Laz Toliver. “They said they are going to keep in contact.”
Mount St. Joseph’s allowed their highest scoring total of the season. Transylvania scored 92 points. Toliver spotted a few defensive lapses in the game.
“They had a little bit of pressure, but not enough,” said Laz Toliver. “The other team had a lot of shooters. One player got real hot. They could have figured something out to stop that player. But they didn’t.”
Toliver starts but fancies himself a defensive stopper.
“I am a defensive guy,” said Toliver (3.9 ppg, 0.6 spg). “I am very good on the defensive side.”
He has three multi-steal games so far this season.
The ten wins of Springfield are impressive, including a victory last week over Wayne, 67-55. Coach Pierce is just as impressed with his charges’ maturity.
“All of them are going to get after it all the time on the court,” said Coach Pierce. “They are high character kids. That is why I decided to put them in my car and drive them to Cincinnati on a school night.”
Parks registered two double-digit games in early December. His season debut included a game-high 11 rebounds. The senior earned three starts to date.
Kris Harris is considering a trip to University of Ohio.
Toliver would like to kickstart his recruitment. After putting in the work in the classroom (3.8 GPA in fall), he is improving his resume.
“The only coaches I have talked to are Mount St. Joseph’s,” said Toliver.
With future success on the court, Toliver should expect eyeballs to catch on. He is intrigued by Ohio Dominican.
“I like their campus,” said Toliver. “I have looked up a couple of things. They have a big team. Academics are good. I think I can major in photography.”
In his free time, Toliver shoots “people, nature, just random things.”
He would like to learn more about Ohio University, Kent State, and Urbana University. Urbana has not signed any players in 2017, but if everyone returns (rare) they will have no scholarships available.
The Mount St. Joseph’s link could pay off. In just his fifth season at the helm, Head Coach Carrigan is nearing 120 program wins.
In a world of D1 or bust, it must be asked…is a school like Mount St. Joseph’s on the radar of the three seniors? Are they considering all level of college competition?
“One of the things that we as adults, coaches, and parents don’t give kids enough credit for is that they are brutally honest,” said Coach Pierce. “These three kids here just want to make sure they have the opportunity to play basketball after high school. Do they wish they could go to Duke, Kentucky? Absolutely. Realistically I am not 6’8″ and have handles like John Wall.”
Coach Pierce instantly touted the attributes of the troopers.
“They do know I run my defenses and play my offenses and do what I am told,” said Coach Pierce. “The smaller school levels are very good and a very good benchmark. There is an opportunity to make the team and play on the team after high school… They are absolutely in the right mindset of the level they are trying to attain.”