WEST LIBERTY - Although the West Liberty University men's basketball team is off to a fast start in pursuit of an unprecedented fourth consecutive NCAA Division II Atlantic Region crown, Coach Jim Crutchfield has been busy laying the foundation for future Hilltopper success.
The reigning NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year got a big jump on his 2014 recruiting class by bringing four Ohio high school standouts into the WLU fold during the NCAA's early-signing period.
Joining the Hilltopper program for the 2014-15 season will be Brady Arnold, a 5-foot-8 guard from West Holmes (Ohio) High School; Evan French, a 6-4 guard from Warren Local (Ohio) High School, Eric Meininger, a 6-5 post from Centerville (Ohio) High School; and Tyler Primmer, a 6-4 wing from Teays Valley (Ohio) High School.
"We're pretty excited about our early signings this year," Crutchfield said. "All four guys are very talented basketball players but they also have the work ethic and competitive fire it takes to compete successfully at the next level. We wish them great success during their final season of high school basketball and are looking forward to welcoming them to the West Liberty basketball family next fall."
Following are brief capsules and comments from Coach Crutchfield for each of the four newest Hilltoppers.
2014 Hilltopper Early Signings
Brady Arnold, 5-8 guard
Millersburg, Ohio (West Holmes)
Leading scorer in school history already with more than 1,300 career points. 2-time All-District and All-Ohio Cardinal Conference selection. 2012-13 Daily Record Player of the Year. Currently averaging more than 24 ppg. as a senior. Multi-sport athlete was also a 2-way starter (QB/DB) on West Holmes football team. Voted OCC Special Teams Player of the Year as a return specialist.
Crutchfield says: "Brady's a good shooter who can also get to the rim. He's not very tall but he's quick off his feet and a very talented scorer. Brady was an outstanding football player, as well, so he's very athletic."
Evan French, 6-4 guard
Vincent, Ohio (Warren Local)
First-team All-Ohio selection as a junior when he led Vincent Warren to a 27-2 record and a trip to the Ohio Division II "Final Four." Eastern District and Southeast Ohio Athletic League Player of the Year. Averaged more than 19 points and 5 rebounds a game. Double-figure scorer for Team Ohio All-Star Team that won the National Rising Senior Event in Indianapolis over the summer.
Crutchfield says: "Evan is a big, strong guard and an outstanding shooter, which is the type of player we've had a lot of success with in our system. He's had the opportunity to play a lot of high-level basketball over the years which has helped develop his game. Evan's also an outstanding student who has never gotten any grade below an "A" in high school."
Eric Meininger, 6-5 post
Centerville, Ohio (Centerville)
A versatile post who combines outstanding passing skills with the ability to step out and shoot the three. Recently honored as one of Ohio's nominations for the 2014 McDonald's All-American Game. Averaged 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists as a junior to earn honorable mention on the All-Greater Western Ohio Conference honor roll and was named to the District 15 All-Underclassman Team.
Crutchfield says: "Eric has a really good skill set that should play very well at the collegiate level and is a great fit for our system. He comes to us from the GWOC. That's a really strong Division I league in western Ohio and Eric ranks among the league leaders in 3-pointers and assists as a high school center."
Tyler Primmer, 6-4 wing
Ashville, Ohio (Teays Valley)
Multisport standout who averaged 15.6 points and 7.4 rebounds as a junior. A 2-time first-team All-Mid-State League pick and an All-District honoree following his junior season. Outstanding 2-way football player (WR/DB) was a 3-time first-team All-MSL selection and an All-District pick last fall. Also earned Academic All-State honors in football from the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association (OHSFCA).
Crutchfield says: "Tyler is probably the prototypical West Liberty player. He can score inside or outside and has the length and quickness that will allow him to guard bigs or smalls. He had some impressive outings against quality competition on the AAU circuit last year and that really caught our eye."