College coaches always are looking for elite players, even basketball coaches with nine seniors returning. So Tennessee Temple's Brac Brady was delighted Friday to add four players from the Rome Elite AAU program.
Two of those, point guard Deandre "D.J." Hunter Jr. and swing man Matthew Scott, played for Rome High School. Darrius Fugh came from Pepperell but played with Hunter and Scott at Rome Middle School, and Darien Smith is from Coosa High.
West Georgia Tech was a common denominator for other recruiting interest, although Scott had conversations also with NCAA Division II programs Shorter and North Greenville (S.C.). He averaged 13 points and about six rebounds a game for Rome, which got nine points, six assists and three steals from Hunter.
"D.J. handles the ball well. He's well-rounded in passing and handlling the ball," Brady said. "And when he came up for a tryout, we were able to communicate with him what we wanted and he was able to go out and do it. I think he's got the potential to develop as a leader.
"Matt Scott's got the ability to handle the ball, too. He played some post in addition to wing for Rome, but [at 6-foot-1] he's not going to be a post for us. In fact, down the road I think he's got the potential to be a point guard. We like his versatility."
Fugh at 6-4 "played everything" for Pepperell. Also a football and track standout, he averaged about 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the basketball team as a senior but still has capacity for polishing, Brady said.
"He's one of those guys who does the dirty work. He sets good screens; he rebounds; he goes hard after loose balls," Brady said. "I'm eager to get him in here and work on his skills and get them equal to his aggressiveness."
Fugh lived in Chattanooga when he was younger, and his mother just moved back here, so coming to Temple was like coming home, he said.
"I like the city and the atmosphere at the school," Fugh said, echoing what the other Elite recruits said.
"I like the community and the coaches, and I think they will help me strive to be the best," Hunter said. "I think this is the right place for me."
For Smith, "It's a good place and it's something new for me. I'm looking forward to learning new things away from home."
The 6-2 Smith was known for shot-blocking and had 20 points and 16 rebounds in one of Coosa's games. He averaged about 10 points a game.
"He jumps well and he's a phenomenal athlete," Brady said. "He's kind of raw now, but we look forward to seeing what we can get out of him. With nine seniors coming back, we have the luxury of taking some young kids and seeing if we can develop them next year so they can really contribute the year after that."
Michael Atwater, who heads the Rome Elite program, accompanied the four to TTU for their signings.
"All four of these guys are athletic and have high IQs for the game, and they're excellent people and excellent students," Atwater said. "And they're still babies in basketball. There's a lot more they can do."