Sept. 15, 2009

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore men's basketball team enters the 2009-2010 season with tremendous enthusiasm for the year ahead.

After an outstanding effort on the recruiting trail by head coach Frankie Allen and his coaching staff, five impressive newcomers join the Hawks following standout collegiate and prep careers. This new group has a distinct Mid-Atlantic feel to it as all five new players hail from, or played for, schools in Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.

This new unit is very balanced, boasting two guards and three front court players to round out the UMES roster. More importantly, this class brings with it a great track record of high performance and team success that will help to ensure the upcoming year will be a strong one for the men's basketball program.

"I really like the group that we have coming in," said Allen. "They have all demonstrated a tremendous desire to be a part of what we are building here, and are high caliber young men both on and off the court that this university can be proud to call their own."

Starting in the backcourt, the Hawks added two junior college standouts in Kevin White and Jamal Edwards.

White, a 6'0" point guard, comes to UMES after two years at Technical Career Institutes in Brooklyn, N.Y. A Brooklyn native, White is known for his excellent playmaking ability and has a knack for getting others around him easy baskets. A former Grady High School standout, White proved to be one of the top assist men in the country last season. White averaged 18 points and a blistering 9.5 assists per outing, good for #2 in the nation, while helping TCI to a 22-9 record.

"Kevin is a young man that we targeted early in our recruiting process. All great teams have strong point guard play. Kevin has demonstrated his ability to make unselfish plays for his teammates and be a great leader," said Allen.



Edwards, a 6'2" combo guard, joins the Hawks program after leading Lamar Community College in Colorado to a Region IX NJCAA championship and its first ever appearance in the NJCAA Division I National Tournament last season. Hailing from Mays Landing, N.J., Edwards averaged 9.1 points per game and helped the Runnin' Lopes to a 5th place finish at the National Tournament.

"Jamal caught our eye because of his tremendous postseason run," said Allen. "We want players that have been a part of championship programs and know what kind of effort and resolve it takes to win a title. He has good size and versatility for a backcourt player, and is an excellent perimeter shooter."

Three new frontcourt players will give the Hawks some additional help inside. Junior college standout center Lyvann "Freddy" Obame Obame will mix with prep stars Sean Berry and James Cotton to help UMES control play on the backboards and in the paint.

Standing 6'6" and 240 pounds, Obame Obame is a physical low post presence. A proud native of Libreville, Gabon, Obame Obame played his last two years at Monroe College in New Rochelle, N.Y. and helped lead his team to back to back Region XV NJCAA championships. Monroe finished the past season with a 30-3 record and the #9 ranking in the final NJCAA National Poll, the school's highest ever national ranking.

"Freddy is an extremely strong presence in the paint. He is a tremendous defender with a stellar work ethic. Having played on past championship teams, he realizes the kind of day in and day out effort it takes to be successful," said Allen.

Another player from the Garden State, Berry joins the Hawks following the completion of a standout prep career at NIA Prep and Irvington High School. Hailing from Irvington, N.J., Berry averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots per game to lead NIA to a 29-7 record and the #11 ranking in the nation in the final US Prep Basketball poll. Berry was named 1st Team All-Prep by the New Jersey Star-Ledger and was MVP of the Regional Prep Championship.

"Sean is a big man with a great combination of size and skill. He has can score the ball in a variety of ways both inside and away from the basket. He will be a great asset to us as he adjusts to the college game," said Allen.

Cotton, a local product out of Pocomoke, Md., brings the program a tremendous amount of length and athleticism. An athletic forward, Cotton spent a postgraduate year at Rise Academy in Pennsylvania following a stellar career at Pocomoke High School. As a junior, Cotton helped lead Pocomoke to the Maryland 1A East Regional Championship and an appearance in the Maryland 1A State Championship game.

"James is an outstanding athlete. He gives great effort and relentless intensity on the floor, which is something that we value in all of our players. As his skills continue to develop, he will be a very effective player at the collegiate level," said Allen.

This five man recruiting class adds a great deal to a solid nucleus that returns from last season's squad, Allen's first as head coach. All-MEAC 2nd team selection forward Neal Pitt returns for his senior season, and guards Hillary Haley and Tim Burns, along with swingman Mark Robertson, are now eligible for competition following last season's NCAA redshirt year.

"This new group of guys has me very excited for our future," said Allen. "There's a great mix of size, skill, and athleticism that will help to propel us forward with our goals. They will blend in well with the players we have returning as our program continues to make great strides in the MEAC."

Allen and his squad hit the practice court on Friday, Oct. 16 during Hawk Hysteria and kick off their season with an exhibition game at 7:00 p.m. against Stevenson on Saturday, Nov. 7 at the W.P. Hytche Athletic Center.

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