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Trio signs with Division-I programs

Trio signs with Division-I programs

By Mike Pilosof

Garden City, KS-Three Broncbuster men's basketball players signed national letters of intent on Wednesday.

Kendale Hampton inked with Youngstown State, point guard Pierre Johnson is headed to the University of New Orleans and post Jett Otchere signed with Stoney Brook.

"For me, it just seemed like the right fit," said Hampton, who hit a program-defining shot when his 3-pointer splashed through the net at the buzzer to beat Cowley in the Region VI Quarterfinals.

The transfer from Ranger College was one of the best 3-point shooters in the conference, hitting at a 42-percent clip. He nailed 81 triples during the season and averaged 14 points per game.

"We wanted Kendale a while ago," Head Coach Brady Trenkle said. "He chose to play for Billy Gillispie at Ranger. But we eventually got him, and he is only going to get better."

Hampton's most defining game was in a loss at Hutchinson on Feb. 7 where the sophomore drilled 7-of-14 from long range on his way to a season-best 30 points in 36 minutes. He added a 23-point showing against Pratt and averaged 19 points per contest in the postseason.

It was no secret how talented Johnson was.

Coming out of Washington D.C., Trenkle recruited Johnson before he ever stepped on a college campus. Instead, he landed at Seward and was one of the top point guard in the conference as a freshman. But after a coaching change, Johnson and assistant Patrick Nee found themselves looking for a new home. In stepped Trenkle.

"As soon as all of that went down, Coach Nee asked me if I wanted Pierre," he said. "I said I want him. It was a done deal after that."

And it was no coincidence that the move paved the way for the Broncbusters best postseason finish in nearly a decade.

The sophomore was second in the Jayhawk in assists while averaging a league-high 34.2 minutes per game. Three times Johnson dished out 10 or more dimes including a season-best 11 vs. Pratt on Dec. 9.

"New Orleans had been recruiting me since my freshman year," Johnson said. "They stayed persistent, and that's where I wanted to go."

On a roster filled with talented players, Otchere may have been the most dynamic.

The post player arrived on campus as a raw, athletic specimen. He leaves Garden City with an Associate's degree, and a refined defensive game that had Division-I schools all over the country drooling.

The sophomore was named the Region VI Defensive Player of the year. He led the nation in block shots while setting the school record for blocks in a season.

"Jeff changed my mind about recruiting seven-foot guys," Trenkle said. "It changed how this team operated."

Otchere averaged only 14.7 minutes per game. But he managed to swat 124 shots including a season-high eight in a 73-65 victory over Cloud County on Feb. 10.