Cal Poly Men’s Basketball concluded their seven-man recruiting class for the upcoming 2020-21 season after adding Ryan Evans as a preferred walk-on on Apr. 22. This season, the Mustangs recruited players with a “little bit of everything,” according to assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Justin Downer.
Evans joins five other high school recruits and one graduate transfer for next season’s roster. The group of players is the first recruiting class in which second-year head coach John Smith had a full season to recruit.
“I really am excited about the recruiting class that we are bringing in,” Smith said. “It is always great to project out and visualize how you want your program to look.”
THE FUTURE IS NOW! 🔥
Mustang nation! Now that you’ve seen our class and read about them, it’s time to get a glimpse of what you’ll have Mott rocking for!@rtillery20 @Dyson_Koehler @Brantlyy @KobeSanders3 @aidanprukop @Killercam2121 @RyanEvans2020 #RideHigh #RideTogether 🐎 pic.twitter.com/qLQvylRUgU
— Cal Poly Basketball (@calpolymbb) April 23, 2020
In this year’s recruiting class, Smith said he found players that fit his “four-out, one-in” style of play with the ability of one player to play multiple positions.
“Anyone who saw us play this year saw us play a lot of guys at a lot of different positions,” Downer said. “What you see in our recruiting class is that.”
With the Mustangs losing six players from last season’s roster due to graduation and transferring, there will be added competition for playing time for the incoming players. Alongside Evans, players who will be battling for a spot on the court are point guard Camren Pierce, shooting guard Brantly Stevenson, shooting guard Aidan Prukop, combo guard Kobe Sanders, small forward Dyson Koehler and graduate forward Riley Till.
“I expect every single player to come in and compete for minutes right away and that is why we brought them in,” Downer said.
Although there will be early competition for playing time, the incoming recruits are already familiarized with one another. Five of the seven players come from Southern California high schools. In addition, there are two pairs of former high school teammates as Evans and Prukop played together at Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Ca.) while Pierce and Stevenson were teammates at Etiwanda High School (Rancho Cucamonga, Ca.).
“There are a lot of highs and lows in freshman year, but when you got a guy you have already been going to war with for four years, I think it makes [the transition] that much easier,” Downer said.
Along with a sense of familiarity within the players, they also have one thing in common — winning. At Mater Dei, Evans and Prukop helped lead the Monarchs to a 25-8 overall record while capturing the Trinity League title. Over the past two seasons, Pierce and Stevenson led Etiwanda to reach a combined 58-10 overall record and two league titles.
In addition, Sanders led Christian High School (San Diego, Ca.) to a 21-7 record while Koehler was an All-Utah first-team selection at Jordan High School (Sandy, Ut.), leading the Beetdiggers to a 19-9 record.
“Getting guys with a winning mentality is huge,” Downer said. “They do not know any other way. They are coming in confident that we are going to get to work right away and win a lot of games.”
To go along with the young recruiting class, the Mustangs added experience and maturity to the roster with Till. At Iowa, Till made a career-high 19 appearances last season while helping the Hawkeyes reach a 20-11 overall record and a No. 25 ranking in the final editions of the AP Top-25. However, what sticks out to the Cal Poly coaching staff about Till is not what he has accomplished on the court, but who he is as a person and leader.
“His leadership ability is one thing that popped off the charts with talking to him and the assistant coaches,” Smith said. “He is just someone who cares about what is doing what is best for the team.”
Although this will be their first year as Mustangs for seven of the 15 players on the roster, there is a reason for optimism about the upcoming season. The Mustangs return over 70 percent of their offensive production, according to Downer, for a team that narrowly missed out on the Big West Tournament last season.
“To mesh [this year’s recruiting class] with the eight returners that we have coming back, I think you can only be optimistic with what we have,” Smith said.
“We return a lot of experience and to bring these young guys in here who know how to win,” Downer said. “I think it is the perfect combination.”