ATLANTA - Georgia State first-year men's basketball coach Ron Hunter announced the signing of four highly-touted standouts to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday afternoon. The group includes three high school stars, including Hunter's only son R.J., and one junior college standout.
The class includes two local products, including Buford's T.J. Shipes and junior college transfer Cameron Solomon, who played at nearby Lovejoy High School. Hunter's son R.J. is finishing his high school career in Indianapolis at Pike High School before moving to Atlanta to join his father. Rounding out the class is point guard David Travers from La Costa Canyon HS in Carlsbad, Calif.
Solomon becomes Hunter's first junior college transfer and is currently enrolled at Brevard Community College this season after a year at High Point University.
This marks the first full signing class for Hunter who was introduced as Georgia State's newest coach last March. The class will be the first part of replacing six seniors who will graduate after the 2011-12 season.
"I am so pleased with our first class," commented Hunter. "Our coaching staff did a great job of finding some of the most talented players in the country who have bought in to our style of play and will be able to help make an immediate impact at Georgia State.
"It was important for us to make an impression on the city, the southeast and the country with this class," continued Hunter. "The Colonial Athletic Association is one of the best basketball conferences in the country and we want to compete every night and win conference championships. We feel as though these four outstanding young men will help us continue toward those goals."
Here is a look at each signee:
Hunter is a 6-6, 175-pound shooting guard with tremendous range and very good ball handling skills. He has very good leaping ability and has shown the ability to defend players at multiple positions.
"I am thrilled at the opportunity to coach R.J.," said Hunter. "I have never had the chance to coach my son and I am truly honored that he decided to come play for me. He is a talented player with tremendous upside and will be a great addition to our program."
As a junior at Pike, Hunter averaged 14.2 points and shot 39 percent from behind the three-point arc, helping his team to a sectional title and the Marion County Championship. He teamed up with Marquis Teague, a Kentucky commit and brother of Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague to lead Pike to one of its most successful seasons in recent memory, finishing 21-5.
He chose Georgia State over Wake Forest, Iowa and Virginia Tech.
Travers is a 6-1, 165-pound point guard with tremendous quickness, improving range and a very good ball handler.
As a junior, the Carlsbad, Calif., native averaged 12 points, seven assistants and three steals per game. He helped lead La Costa Canyon High School to the CIF San Diego Section Championship and the second round of the state playoffs, finishing the year ranked 17th in the state of California.
"To be successful in a conference like the CAA, you must have a great point guard," commented Hunter. "I think David is that type of player. I was impressed with both him and his family from the minute that I met them and I am convinced he is the type of player that will fit perfectly into our system."
Travers chose Georgia State over UC Davis and Denver.
Shipes, a power forward at nearby Buford High School in Gwinnett County, measures at 6-8, 220 pounds. He can run the floor well and uses his body well around the basket.
Last season, he led Buford to the Class AA State Championship Game after scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds per game. He earned all-state and Gwinnett Tip-off Club team of the year honors.
"T.J. is the exact type of low post presence that we needed to sign," commented Hunter. "He has all of the attributes that I look for in a big-man and I know that he is going to be able to do some great things at Georgia State.
T.J. chose Georgia State over Utah, Tennessee, Northwestern, Charlotte, UAB and CAA foe Old Dominion.
A native of nearby Hampton, Ga., Cameron is a 6-4, 175-pound shooting guard with tremendous range who played locally at Lovejoy High School. He was one of Metro Atlanta's most electric scorers during his senior year, averaging 24 points, four rebounds and five assists per game. He can handle the ball and plays taller than his frame with very long arms.
"Cameron is a true scorer," commented Hunter. "He has no problem taking the ball to the basket, hitting the mid-range jumper or knocking down a long-range three-pointer. I really like his upside and the talents he can bring to the court."
Last year, he played nine games at High Point University, averaging 1.9 points and hitting 50 percent of his field goals before an injury sidelined him for the rest of the year. He scored eight points and had three rebounds in his first collegiate game against Ferrum.
Following his senior year of high school, he was named Clayton County Player of the Year and earned all-region, all-state and all-metro honors. Solomon was a McDonald's All-American nominee and finalist for Georgia Class AAAA Player of the Year honors. He finished his high school career with 1,091 points and scored 20 or more points 12 times as a senior, including performances of 36, 41 and 42 points.
During his senior year, he led Lovejoy to the state playoffs for the first time since 2004.
GSU has six seniors on this year's roster.
Next year, GSU will also add to the active roster Manny Atkins, a 6-foot-7 transfer from Virginia Tech and Tucker HS, who is practicing this season with the Panthers.
Georgia State begins its 2011-12 regular season on Saturday night. The Panthers travel to Seattle, Wash. to face Washington at 5 p.m. in Alaska Airlines Arena for the first game of the World Vision Classic.