The Hood College Men's Basketball team targeted the state of Virginia hard with their incoming recruiting class, and it paid off, as the Blazers welcome five incoming freshmen from the Commonwealth State. Hood will also bring in two transfers, who will both have two years of athletic eligibility remaining.
Blazer head coach Chad Dickman is happy with the incoming class, stating "As a coaching staff, we were very adamant this year about recruiting guys who fit our culture and care about team success more than individual goals. I think the seven guys that we have coming in are not only very good players but great people. I am extremely excited to get started with this group."
Hood kicked off the 2018 recruiting class with a commitment from Dom Peterson, 6-0 shooting guard from Virginia prep power Loudoun Valley High School. Peterson averaged 12 points per game and was selected first team all-region and first team all-district this past season. Peterson, a two-year captain, was a staple in Loudoun Valley's dominance the past three years, helping the Vikings to an 81-5 record and the 2017 Virginia 4A State Championship.
"Dom is just a winner," Dickman said. "He comes from an outstanding high school program and is the type of kid that will elevate our program from day one whether he's getting minutes or not. He's ultra-competitive, he works hard, and his winning mentality will be a contagious addition to our team. Dom shoots the ball well and plays extremely hard. Plus, he does all the little things that help teams win."
Chris Smalls, a 6-3 combo guard from Washington, D.C., comes to Hood after spending a year at national power Massanutten Military Academy. The Raiders finished the year 32-4 and boasted several NCAA Division I players on the roster. Prior to Massanutten, Smalls was a three-year starter at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School (Va.). He averaged 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists as a senior and was ranked as a Top 100 player in the entire region by DMVelite.
"Chris has a chance to be really good. He's got great size for a guard. He's long and athletic, and he shoots the ball well. He's pretty versatile offensively and we expect him to evolve into a great defender for us, as well," said Dickman.
The Blazer added another off-guard in Ian Pugh, a 6-2 wing who played a key role at Virginia Academy. As a junior, he was named Northern Virginia Daily's Boys Basketball Player of the Year while at Central High School (Va.). He averaged 13 ppg, five assists, three steals, shot 42 percent from 3-point range and 78 percent from the free throw line.
"Ian is another guy who will move the program forward with his mentality and the way he plays," Dickman noted. "He has good size and he's a hard-nosed kid that hates to lose. I think his defensive energy will be a big asset to our program, but he also has a solid offensive game."
Hood picked up some much-needed size with their next two recruits, Nick Woods and Nolan Ivey.
Woods, a 6-6, 215-lb forward from Courtland High School in Richmond, Virginia, averaged 12 points and seven rebounds while shooting a blistering 66 percent from the field. He was named First Team All-Battlefield District, Second Team All-Region 4B, and team MVP.
Dickman is high on Woods' potential, saying "Nick's not the biggest forward, but he has a good frame, he's physical, he's athletic, and he has a knack for finding ways to score in traffic and against contact. He's long and he's a good rebounder, plus he handles it and passes it fairly well for a big. We think he has a bigtime ceiling if he continues to work on his outside shot and perimeter game."
Ivey, a 6-5, 215-lb small forward from Virginia power Middleburg Academy, averaged 12 points, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals as a senior. The three-sport athlete (lacrosse, soccer) started every game for Middleburg and led the team in free throw percentage, shooting 89 percent from the foul line.
"Nolan is just a skilled, solid player - nothing flashy about him, but he's extremely productive," said Dickman. "He's a strong, undersized forward that can score inside, but he's very comfortable on the perimeter. Nolan's not the most explosive kid, but he has a good feel for how to use his body for rebounding and scoring in the paint. He's a very good foul shooter and knocks down open 3s, as well. I think he's going to have a really nice career at Hood."
The final two recruits of the 2018 class are transfers Keith Claiborne Jr. and Alex Ischiropoulos.
Claiborne, a local product of Winters Mill High School and Frederick Community College, is a 5-11 point guard who, despite being a new face, will be one of the most experienced players on the roster. After a decorated career at Winters Mill, Claiborne played for former Hood assistant coach Tay Hill at FCC. As a sophomore, he averaged 10 points, three assists, and two rebounds for the Cougars.
"We actually recruited Keith out of high school, so I have known him for a while," said Dickman. "I've always been a fan of his game because he knows what he does well and doesn't try to do too much. He's a very steady point guard that makes good decisions and will give us a valuable additional ballhandler in the backcourt. Plus, he already has successful experience playing against college players, so it should be a quick transition for him."
The final newcomer is Alex Ischiropoulos, a transfer from Elmira College (N.Y.). Ischiropoulos played his high school ball near Philadelphia at Strath Haven High School, where he averaged 12 points, five rebounds, and three assists. As a sophomore at Elmira, the 6-2 205-lb guard averaged eight points per game and shot 39 percent from 3-point range.
"Alex is a skilled, big-bodied guard that can really shoot the basketball. He has a high basketball IQ and sees the floor well, so he should fit well into how we play," said Dickman.
The seven incoming recruits join nine returning Blazers from last year's squad. Dickman believes the newcomers are serious about moving the program forward and being successful in all aspects at Hood.
"We will definitely have a new look this year, but I'm very eager to work with this group," Dickman said. "We lost a very productive senior in Luke Casey, but we have the right people coming back and seven new guys who will mesh very well with the returners. I think we will have great team chemistry next year and have a lot more fun, and hopefully success, on the court. I'm excited to see these new guys grow and succeed at Hood College."