Nov. 14, 2013
RUSTON - Louisiana Tech head coach Michael White announced Thursday the signing of five high school basketball standouts in the early signing period.
The star-studded class resembles a starting lineup in itself with three guards, a forward and a center making up the five future Bulldogs.
"Overall, we couldn't be much more pleased with our recruiting class," said head coach Michael White. "This is a very exciting day for the future of Bulldog Basketball. [Assistant coaches] Isaac Brown, Dusty May and Derrick Jones continue to do a wonderful job of evaluating and recruiting as a team. This class encompasses talent, size, length, upside and athleticism with complementing skillsets.
All five quality young men will be four-year players for Louisiana Tech and will have a chance to make immediate impacts. We feel fortunate to have attracted long term student-athletes that will only help us continue to build this program into a consistent contender."
Current point guard Kenneth Smith will have two teammates from his hometown of St. Petersburg, Fla. join him next season as coach White and Co. signed two guards, Dayon Griffin and Jacobi Boykins, from Pinella County.
Griffin stands 6 feet 5 inches tall and was named first team All-Pinella County by the Tampa Bay Times as a junior playing for St. Petersburg High School.
He led the Green Devils to the Class 8A regional finals and was named team MVP and Offensive Player of the Year after averaging 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals per game.
"Dayon is a point guard with tremendous size and athleticism for his position," said White. "His length should allow him to be a very good defender, and he's also a playmaker that makes his teammates better. In addition, he also shoots the ball well."
Boykins is another 6 foot 5 inch guard and earned all-county honors his sophomore year after averaging 17 points and seven rebounds per game for Lakewood High School.
He missed the majority of his junior season due to an injury, but exploded back onto the scene as a fast riser in a basketball showcase and at the 2013 Reebok Breakout Classic that hosted 120 of the nation's top high school basketball players.
The three-star shooting guard per Rivals is also ranked the 20th best player in the state of Florida for 2014 by Source Hoops and chose LA Tech over Florida Gulf Coast and Jacksonville.
"Jacobi is an explosive athlete with great speed and quickness," said White. "He's got a beautiful lefty stroke, and he's a really talented natural scorer. His length and athleticism, like the others, make him a valuable asset for what we are trying to do defensively as well."
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 Xavian Stapleton and Joniah White.
Stapleton is a 6 feet 6 inch guard out of Madison Central High School who is rated as the second best player in the state by the Mississippi Hoop Report and as a Clarion Ledger `Dandy Dozen' which names the 12 best players state-wide.
The shooting guard earned all-state and all-district honors after averaging 12 points, four rebounds and five assists as a junior.
Alongside White, the two led the Jaguars to a 25-9 record in 2012-13 and a runner-up finish at the Class 6A state championship. Stapleton registered a team-high 15 points in the title game.
He chose LA Tech over Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss, Florida Gulf Coast and Tulane.
"Xavian is a long athlete with great versatility, a varied skill set and an ability to have interchangeability defensively," said White. "He's a good scorer, shooter, rebounder and has a very good feel for the game, making him a good passer as well."
White stands 6 feet 11 inches and lettered at Madison Central but will play for Grenada High School his senior year.
He is a three-star recruit per Rivals and ESPN, is ranked the 37th best center in the nation by ESPN and is rated the second best player in Mississippi by ESPN.
Just like Stapleton, White was named to the Clarion Ledger's `Dandy Dozen' after earning all-state and all-district honors with an average of 11 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks her game as a junior. He recorded 14 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the title game.
The center chose LA Tech over Southern Miss, Middle Tennessee and Tulane.
"Joniah possesses obvious size and length combined with a unique ability to time shot attempts in the paint, making him as talented a shot-blocker as most guys in the country," said White. "He also is developing his skill level offensively, but should be ready to defend and rebound from day one."
The final piece, 6 feet 8 inch Branden Sheppard, hails from Shreveport where he letters for Huntington High School.
The forward averaged 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks his junior year and ranks 10th in the NOLA Times-Picayune Super 16 for 2014.
He chose LA Tech over UL-Lafayette, Texas State and Tulane.
"Branden is an extremely long-armed, bouncy athlete with soft hands and a good feel with his back to the basket," said White. "He also has a very nice face-up stroke for a young big and his length and bounce allow him to be a formidable shot blocker.
"In time, we expect all five of these student-athletes to be tremendous contributors to Louisiana Tech Basketball and the Ruston community, and we are very proud to welcome them to our Bulldog family."
For complete coverage of LA Tech Men's Basketball, please follow @LATechHoops on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at www.LATechSports.com.
Joniah White - 6'11" 220 lbs.
High School: Lettered for Madison Central but will play for Grenada HS and coach Jaworski Rankin his senior year ... Three-star recruit per Rivals and ESPN ... Ranked 37th best center in the nation by ESPN ... Rated third best player in the state of Mississippi by the Mississippi Hoop Report ... Rated second best player in Mississippi by ESPN ... Was named to the Clarion Ledger's "Dandy Dozen" which names the 12 best players state-wide ... Earned all-state and all-district honors after averaging 11 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks as a junior ... Played alongside Xavian Stapleton to lead Jaguars to 25-9 record and the class 6A state championship ... Registered 14 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the finals ... Played AAU for the Jackson Tigers.
Personal: Full name is Joniah White ... Son of Nora and Thomas White ... Born Feb. 1, 1996 in Grenada, Miss. ... Chose Louisiana Tech over Southern Miss, Middle Tennessee and Tulane.
Xavian Stapleton - 6'6" 190 lbs.
High School: Letters for Madison Central, coached by Raheem Lockhart, who is currently ranked #7 in the state by the Clarion Ledger ... Was named to the Clarion Ledger's "Dandy Dozen" which names the 12 best players state-wide ... Rated second best player in the state of Mississippi by the Mississippi Hoop Report ... Earned all-state and all-district honors after averaging 12 points, four rebounds and five assists as a junior ... Shot 45 percent from three-point range ... Played alongside Joniah White to lead Jaguars to 25-9 record and the class 6A state championship ... Scored a team-high 15 points in the finals ... Played AAU for the Jackson Tigers.
Personal: Full name is Xavian Stapleton ... Son of Yolanda and Davon Davis ... Born Jan. 24, 1996 in Jackson, Miss. ... Chose Louisiana Tech over Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss, Florida Gulf Coast and Tulane.
Jacobi Boykins - 6'5" 160 lbs.
High School: Ranked 20th best player in state of Florida for 2014 by Source Hoops ... Three-star recruit per Rivals ... Averaged 17 points and seven rebounds per game for Lakewood HS his sophomore year, earning all-county honors ... Missed most of his junior year due to a neck injury ... Participated in the 2013 Reebok Breakout Classic that hosted 120 of the nation's top high school basketball players ...
Personal: Full name is Jacobi Boykins ... Nickname is `Cobi' ... Son of Yolanda Ivey ... One sister, Precious ... Born Feb. 11, 1995 in St. Petersburg, Fla. ... Chose Louisiana Tech over Florida Gulf Coast and Jacksonville.
Dayon Griffin - 6'5" 188 lbs.
High School: Ranked 25th best player in state of Florida for 2014 by Source Hoops ... First team All-Pinella County by Tampa Bay Times in 2012-13 lettering for St. Petersburg HS and coach Christopher Blackwell ... Led the Green Devils to the class 8A regional finals ... Also named team MVP and offensive player of the year after averaging 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals as a junior year ... District champions and state final four runner-ups his sophomore year.
Personal: Full name is Dayon Griffin ... Son of April Manning ... Three siblings, Darius, Kelly and Shawn ... Born Dec. 21, 1995 in St. Petersburg, Fla. ... Chose Louisiana Tech over South Florida, Florida Atlantic and FIU.
Branden Sheppard - 6'8" 220 lbs.
High School: Letters at Huntington HS for coach Mack Brown ... Averaged 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks his junior year ... Led the Raiders to back-to-back district titles ... Ranked 10th in the NOLA Times-Picayune Super 16 of 2014 ... Played AAU for Louisiana Select.
Personal: Full name is Brandon Sheppard ... Nickname is `B' ... Son of Barbara Harvey ... One brother, Xavier ... Born March 5, 1996 in Shreveport, La. ... Chose Louisiana Tech over UL-Lafayette, Texas State and Tulane