ACU men's basketball head coach Joe Golding on Tuesday announced three additions to the 2014-15 Wildcat roster, including a pair of junior college transfers.
Joining the Wildcat roster are junior college point guard Jalen LIttle, junior college forward Duran Porter, and prep school guard Isaiah Tripp. All three will be immediately eligible for the Wildcats and join fall signees Drake Green (shooting guard from Clear Lakes High School in Houston) and K.J. Maura (point guard from Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla.).
"We're looking for the right guys who fit ACU and who want to be here," said Golding, who is entering his fourth season as the head coach in 2014-15. "We're trying to build a program that is full of guys like that, as well as guys that are tough and are willing to accept their role, no matter what they're asked to do. We believe all three of these guys – as well as the two guys we signed in the fall – fit that mode, and I think we'll have a great mix between these five new players and the guys we have returning."
The Wildcats return eight players from last year's team: sophomore forward Riley Payne, senior guard LaDarrien Williams, junior shooting guard Parker Wentz, sophomore forward Michael Grant, sophomore guard Chris Blakeley, senior guard Harrison Hawkins, junior forward Austin Cooke, and redshirt freshman post Christian Albright.
Little joins ACU from Otero Junior College where he played last season as a sophomore and was among the top assist men in junior college basketball. Little averaged 6.7 assists per game to go along with 11.4 points per game for Otero and had season highs of 28 points against Missouri State West Plains and 15 assists against North Iowa Community College.
Little began his collegiate career at Alaksa-Anchorage as a freshman in 2012-13, and he led the Seawolves and ranked No. 9 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with 3.4 assists per game. As a senior at Sierra High School he averaged 11.6 points, 6.2 assists, 3.7 steals, 3.1 rebounds and a 4-to-1 assist-turnover ratio, helping the Stallions to a 26-2 record and runner-up finish at Class 4A State Tournament.
"Jalen is an impact point guard who led our team well," Otero head coach Houston Reed said. "He has a knack for getting the ball to his teammates in a timely fashion and always seems to be on time and on target in his passing skill set."
Porter – a 6-7, 225-pounder – joins the Wildcats from Tallahassee Community College where he averaged 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game while shooting 64.7 percent from the field. He was a Panhandle Conference honorable mention selection after the 2013-14 season.
"I chose ACU because the feeling of being needed and not just wanted," Porter said. "I wasn't seen as just another recruit, but rather as a missing piece in the puzzle of the program. The coaching staff made me feel like a member of the family, and that made my family very comfortable with me being so far from home."
Porter is a native of Macon, Ga., where he played at Westside High School.
"I'm very happy for Duran," Tallahassee head coach Eddie Barnes said. "He's a kid who does whatever he's asked to do, he's very coachable and he works hard. ACU is getting a blue-collar worker who works hard on and off the court. It's been a pleasure coaching him the last two years."
Tripp – a native of Baltimore – joins ACU after one season at Future College Preparatory School in California. A 6-2, 180-pound shooting guard, Tripp averaged 11 points, six assists and four rebounds in 2013-14. As a senior at Edmonson High School in Baltimore, he was a second team Baltimore Sun all-Metro selection and helped lead his team to the Class 2A state championship.
Tripp chose ACU over Loyola Marymount, Tennessee-Martin, James Madison, Cal-State Fullerton, Cal-State Northridge and Providence.
"There are many things that went into my decision to choose ACU," Tripp said. "I'm a Christian, so that was an added bonus. But I enjoyed the campus and the people that I met while on my visit. The campus and basketball program definitely has a family atmosphere, and that was one of the qualities I was looking for in a university.
"The coaches showed their interest in me the entire year, so I knew that they really wanted me, and I think that's important when choosing a university," he said. "I believe if a coach really wants you, then you have a better chance at succeeding. The playing style at ACU suits me and the opportunity to come in right away and play was another key to my decision."
Information for this story provided by ACU Athletics.