Rock Hill, SC August 18, 2008
After his first season, Donald Payton is delighted by his incoming freshmen, transfers, and the development of a few of his red-shirt players from last season. “Last season, we had absolutely no young men on our team from the state of South Carolina. It was a priority to get involved with the area high schools.” Payton’s first signee was Fort Mill High standout wing Torell Priest. “Torell is a winner, he works out almost daily to improve his game. He comes from winning a state championship as a junior and his senior year his team won 20 plus games, he simply knows what it takes to win”. Another recruit from the Palmetto state (Georgetown HS, Georgetown, SC) is Dante Simmons.
“It makes a huge difference when a young man has the basketball IQ that Dante has”. “I am going to enjoy seeing him out on the floor making my job a little bit easier, added Payton”. Jarrett Swinger (Woodmont HS, Piedmont, SC) signed late and actually caught the eye of Roderick Woods the athletic director and women’s basketball coach. “Coach Woods told me about Jarrett and how good of a shooter he is, and he couldn’t be more accurate of his assessment”. In addition, Payton also signed Terrance Morgan (Dayton, OH, Stivers HS) a transfer point guard from Southwestern Community College in Creston, IA. “Terrance is a great on ball defender and will add much needed depth in the backcourt”, added Payton.
The front court will have much needed size to go along with experience. James Shambley (Tallwood HS, Virginia Beach, VA) gained valuable experience after prepping last season after his senior season of high school. “James wanted to come to Clinton right after high school, but decided to gain experience in Prep school which has proved to be a good decision, as far as, his overall skill development”, Payton stated. A familiar face around the campus and the program will be that of William Smith (New Brunswick, NJ, Saint Peter’s HS) after red-shirting last season Smith will provide a defensive and rebounding presence for the Golden Bears. A surprise signee was Michael Bland (Charlotte, NC, Vance HS) a 6’8” 250 lb. Center who will provide a boost in the front court for Clinton. Another red-shirt product is Devon Leisher (Johannesburg, South Africa, Glendvista HS) “At 6’9” 220 lbs, Devon has drastically improved his game, he’s definitely a big man with a European game”. Detravious “Tray” Woolridge (Greenwood, SC, Emerald HS) a 6’10” 200 Power Forward who will add depth in the front court as well. Armand Darby (Trotwood, OH, Trotwood, HS) a 6’3” 210 lb wing guard is a transfer from Clark State Community College in Springfield, OH. “If Darby plays to his highest potential at all times, he’ll definitely help us down the stretch”.