April 12, 2006
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville men's basketball team signed three players to a national letter of intent on Wednesday, giving the program five new players for next season.
The three freshmen signing with the Dolphins are Derek Duggins (6-4, 215, Tampa Freedom H.S.), Ben Smith (5-10, 165, Dublin (Ga.) H.S.) and Lehmon Colbert (6-6, 202, Crawford County (Ga.) H.S.).
Cliff Warren's second recruiting class is loaded with talent and potential, with each player adding much-needed depth to the roster.
"I think we've got commitments from three solid young men, three solid students and three fine basketball players," Warren said. "Their knowledge of the game, their drive to compete and their willingness to get better has me excited about our program's future."
Duggins comes to JU after a stellar career at Tampa Freedom High School under head coach Randy Grenon. Duggins averaged 18.4 points per game as a junior playing at the small forward. During his senior year, Duggins averaged 18.7 points per game as a shooting guard, with five 30-plus point games. Over the last 10 games of his prep career, Duggins averaged more than 28 points per game.
"From a physical standpoint, I think he can come in and play right away," Warren said. "He played a number of positions for his high school coach. He's still learning the game and developing as a player."
Because of his age, Duggins had the option of going to prep school and big-name schools such as Louisville, LSU and Boston College had previously come to watch him play.
"Derek is a good student and a good kid who can fill it up," Grenon said. "He's only been playing basketball for four years and is still growing. When he started, we had him playing as a power forward and moved him out each year. While the adjustment was tough, especially this year, he was able to adjust his game and get better each time out."
Colbert joins the Dolphins after an exceptional senior year at Crawford County High School, averaging 25 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks per game.
"He has the ability at the power forward position to step behind the 3-point line and extend defenses," Warren said. "He's a power forward who can bang inside, get rebounds, but has a good shooting touch from outside. He'll complement our other post players well."
While facing double teams throughout his senior year, Colbert was able to handle the extra defender, raising his assist total. He was named second team all-state in Class 2A in Georgia.
"His work ethic is great," said Clyde Zachary, Colbert's coach at Crawford County. "He is willing to listen and learn and works hard at everything that he gets involved. He is a tremendous young man."
Rounding out the trio of signees is Smith, a point guard from Dublin High School. As a senior, he led Dublin to the Class 2A state championship and was named Middle Georgia "Player of the Year" after leading Dublin to a 30-2 record. He was also named first team all-state by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"The epitome of a point guard," Warren said. "He has a high basketball IQ and is an extremely hard worker. He makes his team better and knows how to win, as evident by his team winning the state championship and the individual honors he received."
A winner at every level, Smith averaged 22.7 points and six assists per game. In the state championship game against Thomasville, he scored 28 points, dished out eight assists and had five steals.
"He's a baby-faced assassin," said Gary Graham, Smith AAU coach. "He's an old-school point guard. He's a coach on the floor and just finds a way to get things done. Against the best competition in the country over the past two years, nobody has pressed us and that is a credit to him. He is plays very smart and is as tough as nails."
These three signees join Szymon Lukasiak and Tyrone Curnell, who signed with JU early, as part of the Dolphins' 2005-06 recruiting class.
2005-06 JU Recruiting Class
Lehmon Colbert, 6-6, 202, Crawford County (Ga.) H.S.
* Tyrone Curnell, 6-6, 225, West Orange H.S.
Derek Duggins, 6-4, 215, Tampa Freedom H.S.
* Szymon Lukasiak, 6-9, 235, Montverde Academy
Ben Smith, 5-10, 165, Dublin (Ga.) H.S.
* - signed in the early signing period
Head coach Cliff Warren's has hauled in a ton of talent in his second recruiting class