Photo by Heather Middleton
From Staff Reports
Throughout his tenure as the men's head basketball coach at Clayton State, Gordon Gibbons has built his teams around one common quality - defense. His latest recruit for the 2011-12 season should fit in perfectly to Gibbons' defensive philosophy.
Gibbons announced on Monday the signing of Waycross College guard Reco Lewis to the Clayton State men's basketball program. He becomes the sixth signee in what is turning into a stellar 2011-12 recruiting class for the Lakers, who are coming off a 19-10 mark in the 2010-11 season. Lewis joins fellow JUCO recruits Tim Budd (Spartanburg Methodist) and Tyrone Black (Iowa Western), plus Division I transfers Anthony Salter (Hawaii), Tony Dukes (USC Upstate) and Teondre Williams (Oregon).
"Reco brings experience, leadership and a winning attitude to our program," said Gibbons, who is 190-109 entering his 11th season at Clayton State. "He is a versatile player who will be productive at several different positions. We are excited to add him to our program."
Lewis, a 6-foot-2, 170-pounder from Nahunta and Brantley County High School, should be familiar with the Clayton State system under Gibbons simply based on his two seasons at Waycross. He was one of the original recruits at Waycross when the program was started in 2009, and his head coach for the Swamp Foxes was former Clayton State player and assistant coach Cory Baldwin.
"I am fired up," Baldwin said in a phone interview. "He has an unbelievable energy level. He is a good shooter, and he can play several positions."
Lewis enjoyed a banner 2010-11 season for Waycross as he helped pace the Swamp Foxes to an amazing 27-9 campaign which included winning the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association championship and advancing to the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. There, Waycross dropped a 75-57 decision to Wabash Valley in the opening round, but rebounded in the consolation with a thrilling 60-59 squeaker over Chattanooga State before falling 65-61 to Western Wyoming.
Waycross just completed its second year, and Baldwin as already the team to 44 wins. The coach has watched 13 of his former players sign letters of intent
Individually, Lewis was a two-year starter as a combo guard for the Swamp Foxes, and defense was truly his specialty. This season, he led both the GCAA and the NJCAA in steals with 135, averaging almost five steals a game. In addition, Lewis averaged 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists a game while shooting 75 percent from the free throw line and 38 percent from 3-point range.
He was selected as the GCAA Defensive Player of the Year, plus earned All-GCAA honors and honorable mention NJCAA All-American honors. In addition, Lewis was runner-up for GCAA Player of the Year honors.
Lewis ranked in the Top 15 in the GCAA in five categories, and recorded double-doubles in seven games. He scored a career-high 31 points against NJCAA nationally-ranked Cape Fear, and is the ninth player off this season's Swamp Foxes' squad to sign a scholarship with a four-year program.
Baldwin says convincing a player like Lewis to sign with alma mater is an easy sell.
"Clayton State has so much to offer," he said. "It's close to Atlanta, its a great university, and there is coach Gibbons. The man has won at every level. At Clayton State, anything less than 20 wins is a bad year."
Baldwin says Lewis has plenty going for him off the court too.
"He was an unbelievable leader for us," Baldwin added.