Wittenberg’s Matt Croci announces nine-man 2020 recruiting class

Wittenberg huddles around coach Matt Croci before a game against Denison on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, at Livingston Gymnasium in Granville. David Jablonski/Staff
Wittenberg huddles around coach Matt Croci before a game against Denison on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, at Livingston Gymnasium in Granville. David Jablonski/Staff

Players join that finished 28-2 last season

A year ago, Matt Croci announced the smallest Wittenberg men's basketball recruiting class of his first three years. He and his staff put together a nine-man recruiting class in their first season and an eight-man class in 2018. Last year, the class numbered three.

The 2020 class, with nine players, is a more typical size.

“This group is more about quantity,” Croci said. “They’re all really solid good players. We got a lot of what we were looking for. The biggest thing for me — what we’re always looking for — is just guys that are winners, that are used to working hard and are really competitive people, that like to win and work toward winning. I feel like all nine guys have been around winning and bring that to the table. That will help them fit in.”

Wittenberg is 97-20 in Croci’s first four seasons. The Tigers have won two North Coast Athletic Conference regular-season championships and two NCAC tournament titles and have played in the NCAA tournament three times, reaching the Sweet 16 in March before the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the rest of the tournament.

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After losing only one senior starter in 2018 (Chad Roy) and 2019 (Mitch Balser), the Tigers lose three key seniors from a team that finished 28-2 in 2020: Connor Seipel, Jake Bertemes and Jordan Pumroy.

However, a strong junior class including three players — James Johnson, Landon Marton and Rashaad Ali-Shakir — who have played major roles since their careers began meas Wittenberg will contend in the NCAC again next season.

That doesn’t mean the freshmen won’t have a chance to contribute.

“We needed some size inside,” Croci said. “We needed some size on the perimeter. We needed a couple of guards that can play with the ball in their hands. I think we’ve hit all three of those. I’m really, really excited about this class.”

There are six players from Ohio in the class and three from Indiana.

“The Indiana thing has really increased the last couple years,” Croci said. “Where we are in Springfield, it is much closer and easier to get to Indianapolis than it is to get to Cleveland and Akron and go that direction. It’s quicker and closer to get Indy than it is to go to Toledo. We’re still trying to live in Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. That triangle is still always going to kind of be home for us in recruiting.”

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Here’s the complete list of 2020 recruits:

Daniel Asher, 6-7, F, Roncalli (Ind.): He averaged 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds and earned an honorable mention on the Indianapolis Star Super Team.

Jared Baldock, 5-10, G, Cincinnati Purcell Marian: He averaged 11.2 points, while shooting 43.1 percent (62 of 144) from 3-point range.

Tanner Cooley, 6-5, F, Bluffton (Ind.): He averaged 12.1 points and 9.3 rebounds and earned an all-state honorable mention.

Jayvin Landers, 6-4, G, Antwerp: He was a two-time first-team all-Green Meadows Conference selection who helped lead his team to a 25-1 record last season.

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Brody Ley, 6-4, G, Granville: He averaged 11.9 points and made the Division II Central District third team.

Joe Martin, 6-3, G, University School (Ind.): He averaged 14.5 points, 2.9 assists and 3.0 rebounds for a team that finished 21-5.

Jeff Queen Jr., 6-3, G, Cincinnati La Salle: He averaged 9.6 points and made the Greater Catholic League South second team.

Colby Swain, 6-0, G, Chillicothe Zane Trace: He ranked second in the Scioto Valley Conference with 4.2 assists per game.

Garret White, 6-9, F, Maumee: He was a third-team all-conference selection in the Northern Lakes League.