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Rockets add size, depth with latest recruiting class

Sports Editor

Published: Monday, April 16, 2012

Updated: Monday, April 16, 2012 07:04

Head coach Tod Kowalczyk welcomed three new Rockets to his program Wednesday when they signed their National Letters of Intent.

Point guard Josh Lemons from La Salle High School in Cincinnati, power forward Aubrey Williams of IMG Academy of Bradenton, Fla. and center Nathan Boothe from Warren in Gurnee, Ill. will continue their basketball careers at Toledo.

“The best thing about them is that they’re representative of a lot of needs that we had in our program,” Kowalczyk said.

After winning just four games in 2010-11, UT finished this year with a 19-17 record and showed tremendous improvement. One weakness, however, was a lack of size up front. Williams and Boothe will be asked to bolster that unit.

Lemons, a 6-1 guard and all-state selection, will provide some depth at the point and back-up sophomore-to-be Juice Brown.

Lemons’ Cincinnati La Salle squad won the 2011 Division-I State Championship. In his final high school season, he tallied 18 points, 2.4 assists, and three steals per game.

“[Lemons] is a very physical defensive player,” Kowalczyk said. “He has a chance to really help us going forward and adds a lot of toughness to the program.”

Williams, who just turned 17, graduated from St. Vincent Palloti near Baltimore at 16, skipping the third and seventh grades. He then transferred to IMG where he’s played at for the previous two years.

The 6-6, 215-pounder averaged a double-double this past season with 18 points and 11 boards per contest.

“The best thing about him, basketball-wise, is his untapped potential,” Kowalczyk said. “He has a seven-foot wing span and has a chance to be a very good player.”

The third member of Kowalczyk’s second recruiting class as Rocket head coach is also the biggest, at least in size. Boothe stands 6-9 and weighs in at 250 pounds.

“We needed some size on the front line and added some depth there with Nathan,” Kowalczyk said.

Boothe averaged 14.1 points and 7.1 rebounds a game, shot 57 percent from the field, and swatted 77 shots during his senior season at Warren, located outside of Chicago. He was a third-team all state selection and named to the all-area and all-conference teams. Boothe’s coach, Chuck Ramsey said Boothe is a great kid who improved every year.

Boothe gave his verbal commitment to UT back in November (recruits can’t officially sign until signing day), but Williams and Lemons didn’t give theirs until early March.

Toledo was the fourth youngest team in America last season, having no seniors on the team. With only eight scholarship players on the roster in 2011-12, the door could be open for either of the three players to see some early playing time.

“I’d like to think all three of them have a chance to play right away, that’s why we recruited them,” Kowalczyk said. “It adds depth to our program, it adds competition, it adds a lot of things.”

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