April 10, 2014
After helping compile in the last two seasons 56 wins, two conference titles, two NIT postseason berths and a slew of broken records, the task of replacing these four crucial pieces will be tough.
Aiming to do so though for head coach Michael White for the 2014-15 season will be a group of five incoming freshmen who had stellar senior years at their respective high school.
"All five of our November signees truly played to their potential during their senior seasons," said White. "All five had tremendous individual campaigns, but more importantly, all five led their respective teams to great success. They all made deep runs in the state tournaments that they played in.
"This group has a chance to be really good. All five young men have embraced the success that our current players have had, and are eager to help Louisiana Tech Basketball maintain its momentum."
Joining Kenneth Smith on the roster from his hometown of St. Petersburg, Fla. will be two guards - Dayon Griffin and Jacobi Boykins.
Griffin is a point guard that stands 6-feet-5-inches tall playing for St. Petersburg HS who was ranked as high as No. 3 in Hillsborough/Pinellas.
He led the Green Devils to a 21-4 overall record and a spot in the Class 8A regional finals where he finished with 32 points, five assists, four steals and three rebounds in the overtime loss.
His crosstown rival at Lakewood HS, but now fellow Bulldog, is Boykins who is a 6-foot-5-inch shooting guard that averaged 22 points and eight rebounds this past season while shooting 38 percent from three-point range.
He led the Spartans to the Florida Class 5A title game where he dropped 28 points and 13 rebounds in the loss, but was named team MVP for the state tournament.
Boykins ended up scoring 22 points or more in eight of his final 10 games, including a career-high 34 in a triple-overtime win against Bradenton IMG and 25 in a win against Cape Coral Mariner in the regional final.
The shooting guards' accolades included being named first team All-Suncoast, first team All-County, first team all-state by FABC and Source Hoops. He also earned the honor of being named the Tampa Bay Times' Pinellas County Player of the Year.
Both Griffin and Boykins participated in the Pinellas-Hillsoborough All-Star game where Boykins had a team-high 18 points and also won the dunk contest.
After playing his collegiate basketball at Ole Miss, coach White went back to the Magnolia State and reeled in two of the best players in the state of Mississippi in 6-foot-6-inch combo guard Xavian Stapleton and 6-foot-11-inch center Joniah White.
Stapleton and Madison Central won the Mississippi 6A North Tournament title, but then lost in the 6A semifinals, finishing with a team-high 16 points against eventual champion Gulfport. The Jaguars ended the season with a 28-4 record and were ranked as high as No. 1 in the state.
For the year, Stapleton averaged 20.9 points per game while shooting 52 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc. He registered at least 20 points in 17 games.
He also averaged 8.8 rebounds per game, helping notch 15 double-doubles on the season, en route to being named first team All-Metro.
White led Grenada HS to the Mississippi 6A title game where he had 15 points and 17 rebounds in the five-point loss. He posted one of his six triple-doubles (13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks) on the year in the upset win over Provine in the semifinals.
For the season, White averaged 14.6 points, 12.9 rebounds and 6.5 blocks per game while shooting 61 percent from the field. He had three games with at least 20 boards and seven games with at least 10 blocks.
Both White and Stapleton took part in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic. Stapleton recorded nine points and seven rebounds while White swatted away five balls.
The final piece, 6-feet-8-inch forward Branden Sheppard, led Huntington HS to a 25-4 overall record and a spot in the Louisiana 4A quarterfinals.
He was named first team all-district, first team all-city, first team all-area and third team all-state after averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game. Sheppard also participated in the LHSBCA All-Star game.
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