Contact: C. Scott Shasteen
July 27, 2016
Heading into his second season as the head coach of the Motlow State Community College men's basketball program, J.T. Burton is putting together his first full recruiting class after being hired in May 2015. With just over three weeks remaining until the start of the fall semester, that class is beginning to take shape.
"I am really excited about our team," said Burton. "My assistants (Arthur Latham, Zach Holt) have done a great job of recruiting players that fit our system. We have a completely new roster after graduating eight sophomores last year, all of which signed to continue at four-year schools. The Bucks will be very young but I'm eager to get started."
Among the headliners that Burton has signed to a national letter of intent is 6-10 post Aleksandar Zecevic from Serbia, who played his final prep season at Broadfording Christian Academy in Hagarstown, Md. Zecevic is multi-dimensional as he can play with his back to the basket and can spot up from outside and hit the three pointer.
For the second year in a row, Burton has reached into the Virgin Islands to snare the area's top player. Last year it was Stephaun Adams, who is now a member of the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. This year, Burton has signed Leonardo Castillo, Jr. from St. Croix Central High School. Castillo fills up the stat book as he can score, rebound, and distribute, in addition to having the quickness to play great defense.
Burton hit the recruiting road hard to find 6-1 point guard Jalen Bell, who played his high school basketball at Franklin Central in Indianapolis, Ind. Bell led his team in both scoring and rebounding before suffering an injury near the end of his senior season.
The Bucks of 2016-17 will be bigger and stronger overall than last year's first Burton team. Both Chad Emmons from Green County High School in Greensburg, Ky., and Rashawn Fredericks from Chamberlain High School in Tampa, Fla., are over 6-6 and can play multiple positions.
Tennessee has also provided Burton with a trio of prize products. Former LaVergne High School player Javel Gillespie transfers to Motlow after averaging seven points and a pair of rebounds per game at Cleveland State Community College last season. Also from Rutherford County is former Blackman standout Isaiah Hart.
Reaching into the fertile recruiting ground that is Memphis, Burton has signed guard Javion Hamlet from Whitehaven High School. Hamlet was ranked as one of the top point guards in Memphis for the 2016 graduating class.
Burton's first Bucks team, which featured first-team All-American and Tennessee Community College Athletic Association player of the year Jaylen Barford, finished the 2015-16 season with a 25-7 record and a runner-up finish in the Region VII tournament.