With their latest recruitment class Dunk Mountain have made it absolutely clear they aren’t afraid to recruit against bigger schools at the division one level, and with their recent track record why would they?
Banner Elk, North Carolina- Tucked away in the Mountains of a modest town in North Carolina, Banner Elk boasts one of the top division two hoops programs in the state and they love their basketball. Last season was full of career highs for Lees McRae, the Bobcats really made waves throughout the hoop state and recruits certainly took notice.
A year in review (Lees McRae)
- Won 23 games last season (school record)
- Went to D2 NCAA tournament (first time in school history)
- Won Conference Carolinas (first time in school history)
- Had 10 Seniors last year
- Freshman of the year (Quay Kimble)
- 3 players all conference
- Coach Hardin- Coach of the Year
It was a season full of firsts for Coach Hardin and this zealous program, after graduating 10 seniors from that talented group the Bobcats (3-7,0-2), are expected to face some growing pains with fourteen underclassmen. One thing is apparent though as this program attempts to regroup from a three game losing skid and defend their conference title this season, the future is extremely bright. The staff is already excited about the young core presently on campus, and the star studded freshmen class set to join Dunk Mountain next season.
I caught up with Associate Head Coach Mark Polsgrove to discuss their most recent signings, and also how this group should fit in with pieces currently in place down the road.
“We are extremely excited about Sidney Dollar. He was someone who we targeted going into his junior year of high school. He obviously exceeded expectations on the court, and as we got to know him as a person off of the floor we knew he was a perfect fit for our program and the Banner Elk community. Our future is extremely bright and adding an elite shooter like Jackson Gabriel to go alongside Sidney in this class to space the floor is huge for us. Then you throw in the guys we already have here like the reigning Freshman of the Year in our conference in Quay Kimble and former North Forsyth standout Anthony Hicks.” Coach Polsgrove told Phenom Hoops
“On top of those two are guys who will be seniors next season to help show the way and our culture to our younger players, like Jason Saintizaire, Kamil Williams, and Jerick Haynes. We feel like with all of these guys and how we have been able to recruit has set us up for great success both now and the future.”
Hicks is currently a freshman for the Bobcats at 6’5 he can play the one-three on the perimeter, Hicks size and ball skills offer up a lot of upside for this backcourt, coming out of the 2018 NC cycle Hicks was slotted in as our 55th overall prospect. Hicks is already carving out a role in year one, currently he’s averaging 7.7 ppg, 2.7 rebs, and 1.8 ast, per game for LMC.
Gabriel has a chance to go down as arguably the best three point shooter in the states history period and the numbers do not lie. Gabriel has expanded his offensive arsenal over the years, but from day one Gabriel’s shooting will translate at the next level. Gabriel has a quick trigger and a short memory two things crucial for true snipers. Gabriel a former high school teammate of Bobcats freshman forward London England, will bring in a winning pedigree as a state champion.
Hicks had division one looks and opted for Lees McRae instead, Dollar (38th), and Gabriel (63rd), respectively in our 2019 NC cycle followed suit. Dollar is a guy whose stock absolutely exploded over the summer, after some breakout performances over tier one competition. Many eyebrows raised after this particular signing broke and the staff was equally excited about landing a priority recruit in Dollar.
“We really like to recruit guys who can play multiple positions and are extremely athletic in order to surround them around top-skilled players. Sidney is a guy that can play four positions for us and he obviously fits the athletic build. He is someone who can help defensively by playing our style, which is both full court man-to-man, man run and jump trap, as well as, a match-up zone, which having length and athleticism like Sidney helps us tremendously. Offensively, he can get to the rim, pass extremely well, and shoot it. He will be able to start our break or run the wing for us depending on matchups.”
Some say these guys went under recruited by bigger in state schools, which could be plausible, but Coach Polsgrove has another theory.
“North Carolina has a goldmine of talent, and lately we have had a lot of success recruiting in state kids. Our whole staff has taken recruiting at Lees-McRae to the next level, and a kid that is receiving lots of Division I interest doesn’t scare us off. I am not sure that it is about kids being overlooked by Division I programs (our class last season had a combined 23 Division I offers) as it is targeting and being relentless recruiters of kids that fit this program and who can come in and have an immediate impact and a phenomenal career both on and off the floor. In saying this, I think most of the credit goes to our school. They have made an investment in athletics.
“We have a brand new film room, weight room (including strength coach position), rehab center, and locker room, to go on top of a recently renovated gym. On the academic side we have some really good programs and a recently renovated library. What I think also is a huge factor is that we are a small community, but it is such a tight knit family feeling around all of campus and around the Banner Elk community.”