The New Southern California Basketball
SoCalHoops Prep & High School News Report

Long Beach State: Sometimes,
No News
Is No News--(April 12,1998)

So who is signing with Long Beach State? So far no one except those who signed in the fall early signing period. And while they're no slouches, they're not enough to resurrect the troubled program. So who's on board for next year?

Ugonna Onyekwe (6'-8" Sr. F) from Nigeria by way of Crydon, England, and Mercersburg Prep Academy in Pennsylvania, signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Long Beach State last fall. Onyekwe (pronounced oh-NEE-kway) and guard Charles O’Neal were the 49ers’ only signees during the fall signing period. Onyekwe is a highly regarded basketball recruit who should make an immediate impact for the 49ers upon his arrival for the 1998-1999 season. “He’s very athletic,” says his Mercersburg coach, Tony Tucker. “I can’t imagine there being a more athletic player at his size in high school this season.”

Charles O’Neal (6'-4" So. G) Florida CC, signed with the 49ers a year ago; but he didn't enroll at Long Beach during the fall, requiring second year head coach Wayne Morgan to sign him again in the fall. O'Neal, from Jacksonville, Florida, led FCC to the title game in the 1997 Florida State JC Tournament. He's been described as a true point guard, and during the time he played at FCC, was seventh in the state in assists (5.6 apg), and fourth in steals, at 3.0 per game.

Finally, Long Beach has Ramel “Rock” Lloyd (6'-4" Jr. SG), who at 225 lbs., transferred to Long Beach from Syracuse University (we hope not in anticipation of Tony Bland's arrival this fall). He was one of the nation’s top recruits coming out of Cardinal Hayes High School in 1996, Lloyd averaged 4.6 ppg and 11.8 minutes as a freshman. He could very well be one of the top performers in the Big West when he debuts during the 1998-99 season.

So who should the 49'ers be looking for? Somebody really tall, and really good. They're losing Andrew Betts (7'-1" Sr. C), Clayton Flemister (6'-4" Sr. F) and Quincy Nuckles (6'-3" Sr. G) from this year's team.

Betts, who is from Ibstock, England was named to the All-Big West First team, and had petitioned the NCAA for another year of eligibility, but was turned down. The decision, announced March 17, 1998, means Betts’ playing career, which began at Division II Long Island University-C.W. Post, and continued this season at Long Beach State, is over. Nuckles also had a frustrating year, missing most of the year with a broken thumb.

But the balance of the team is very young, and with players like Antrone Lee (6'-7" So. G/F), D'Cean Bryant (6'-6" Jr. F), Ardis Curtis (5'-10" Fr. G), Marcus Gradney (6'-7" Fr. F), Grant Stone (6'-8" Fr. F), Jermel Bradley (6'-4" Jr. G), David Egans (6'-4" Fr. G), Derek Emery (6'-10" Fr. C/F), Jared Frey (6'-5" Jr. F), and Ian Milley (6'-10" Fr. C/F), this is a pretty good team, at least on paper. But they really need to sign that one superstar player who can take them to where Utah went from the Big West next season.

We'll keep our eyes peeled for who Long Beach State may be looking at; we're guessing right now that it'll be another JC transfer to help give a team full of freshmen some experience and leadership.

The Swish Award
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