Moving forward after a season cut short, John Brown University head men's basketball coach Jason Beschta announced the signing of eight newcomers to the Golden Eagles on Wednesday afternoon, landing seven prep student-athletes and one transfer.
Ranked ninth in the nation at the time the NAIA canceled its winter championships, the Golden Eagles enter the new season having pieced together not only consecutive 20-win seasons, but JBU's final record of 28-5 tied the program's single-season win record.
The eight incomers include Amos Adeyemo (McKinney, Texas), Caleb Ceasar (Houston, Texas), Nehemiah Connor (Fort Worth, Texas), transfer D.J. Ellis (North Aurora, Ill.), Cade Schroeder (Mustang, Okla.), Noah Taylor (Dallas, Texas) and twin brothers Wesley Verduin and William Verduin (Wiley, Texas).
"What a special recruiting class we have for 2020," Beschta said. "We found players who fit exactly what we need and young men who perfectly fit our team culture. While we return the majority of our players from a very successful 2019-20 season, our new class is so talented that they will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact for us."
Adeyemo joins the Golden Eagles after spending a year under head coach Darryl Craft at McKinney North High School, where the 6-foot-2 guard helped the Bulldogs to a district finalist position. The squad's defensive player of the year notched a single-game career high of 22 points as a junior and spent a season on McKinney North's track and field team.
"Amos is a player who can be effective on or off the ball, and he can really shoot it!" Beschta said.
A two-year letterwinner at Rosehill Christian School, Ceasar paced the Eagles to district and regional titles as a senior before helping the squad to a TAPPS 3A state finalist finish. The 6-foot-5 utility player posted a single-game career high of 44 points against Aggieland County School, en route to an All-State first team selection in his final season. Ceasar also garnered Academic All-State and All-District first team accolades before the 2019-20 season came to a close.
"Caleb is a long guard who can handle the ball and has a sweet stroke from behind the arc," Beschta said. "His size will cause problems for opponents because his versatility allows him to play multiple positions."
Connor spent his final two seasons of prep play under head coach Steve Turner at Covenant Christian Academy. The two-sport athlete, also competing on the track squad, helped the Cougars to back-to-back district titles before regional and conference titles as a senior. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 14 points, five boards and five assists per game in 2019-20 as the team captain finished in the MaxPreps top 200 three-point shooters in the nation. Connor landed the TAPPS Most Improved Player of the Year honors while leading his squad to a second-place finish in the state tournament.
"Nemo is a proven scorer," Beschta said. "He will have a chance to make a strong impact throughout his time at JBU."
Ellis, the lone transfer of the 2020 signing class, comes to Siloam Springs by way of Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, Ill. Spending one season with the Chiefs under head coach Lance Robinson, Ellis averaged 15.8 points, 7.9 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game, including a career-best 29 point outing against College of Lake County. The 6-foot guard's outstanding season was honored with All-Conference and All-Region first team selections and was capped off with a top-five national finish in average assists per game in NJCAA II.
"D.J. is coming off of an incredible season where he has proven his ability to lead a team," Beschta said. "He can play on or off the ball, creating or scoring. He will help us push our pace to get out into the open floor more in transition."
Hailing from Mustang, Okla., Schroeder spent a trio of seasons under head coach Scott Hodges at Mustang High School. A 6-foot-3 forward, Schroeder earned back-to-back All-Conference honorable mention accolades and finished the 2019-20 season in the 6A top-10 in rebounding and steals and averaged top-15 numbers in scoring and free-throw percentage. The All-City honorable mention selection posted a single-game best 22 points and 13 rebounds.
"Cade provides us with another scorer who can knock down shots from deep or score at the rim," Beschta said.
Taylor finished off his prep career with two seasons at Coram Deo Academy under head coach Fonzo Martinez. As a junior, the 5-foot-10 guard led the Lions to the best season in program history as the squad finished as regional qualifiers in TAPPS 4A. Behind Taylor, the Lions again broke the single-season wins total by sealing an appearance in the TAPPS 4A state semifinals. Taylor, MaxPrep's top three-point shooter in the nation (189 triples), finished his career as the top Dallas-area product and Texan in single-season triples, while also posting the 11th-most points in the nation (MaxPreps). The back-to-back All-District selection finished his prep career by earning consecutive All-State first team honors in addition to an All-State Tournament team selection. Taylor joins the Golden Eagles securing his spot in Coram Deo history, graduating as the program's all-time leading scorer.
"Noah is an incredible shooter with nearly unlimited range," Beschta said. "He provides another ball-handler and scorer, and he will prove to be one of our leaders throughout his career."
Wesley and William Verduin
Wesley Verduin, a four-year letter winner under head coach Antanas Kavaliauskas of the homeschool program Dallas Thunder, is the twin of William. Wesley Verduin, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward, is a three-time All-Region first team selection and garnered All-American honors in his junior campaign. Hitting 8-of-11 from behind the arc, Wesley Verduin's best single-game performance came as a junior where he poured in 34 points and pulled down eight rebounds. For his efforts in the 2018-19 season, he was named to the conference's Sharp Shooter award.
William Verduin joins his twin brother in Siloam Springs after spending the previous four years on the same Dallas Thunder squad. Helping the team to a regional title, William Verduin, conference Defensive Player of the Year, landed three straight conference Post Player of the Year honors and reeled in four consecutive All-Region first team honors. The 6-foot-7 guard/forward finished his prep career with an All-America selection as a senior.
"Will and Wes are going to make quite the combo during their time at JBU," Beschta said. "Their size and skill-set allow them to play and guard multiple positions. I am excited to watch these two develop."