NATCHITOCHES – Two-time All-State guard Devonte Hall, also an Academic All-State selection at Bossier City-Bossier High School, has joined the Northwestern State basketball program along with 6-11 junior college center Deji Adekunle and high-scoring junior college point guard Tony Dobbinson, coach Mike McConathy announced Wednesday.
Hall, a 6-2 guard, averaged 20.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.5 steals as a senior while leading Bossier to the state Class 5A semifinals. As a freshman, Hall played with Demons standout point guard Jalan West on the Bearkats’ 2011 state championship team. West, a Mid-Major All-American in 2013-14, will be a junior in 2014-15.
Dobbinson, like West a 5-10 guard, will provide much-needed depth at point guard while also giving the Demons more explosive backcourt scoring. He ranked eighth among the nation’s junior college players in scoring with his 22.6-point average at McCook (Neb.) Community College, sinking 37 percent on 3-pointers and averaging 3.1 assists per game last season.
Adekunle, a native of London, is a 6-11, 235-pound center who helped Williston (N.D.) State College to a 52-15 record in the past two seasons, making him the winningest player in the program’s history. Among schools that recruited him were Arizona State, Tulsa and Penn State, according to a WSC press release.
They join two early signees, forward Reggie Kissoonal (6-11, 190) of Jacksonville, Fla.-Raines High School, and guard Ta’Jon Welcome (6-3, 190) from Houston-Booker T. Washington and Tyler (Texas) Junior College, in the Demons’ 2014-15 signing class. NSU plans to add one more signee before setting the 2014-15 roster, which will feature returning starters West, 2014 Southland Conference Freshman of the Year Zeek Woodley and senior center Marvin Frazier among 10 returning lettermen.
“We’re tremendously pleased about how our signing class is shaping up,” said Demons’ coach Mike McConathy, who recently wrapped up his 15th season at NSU as the state’s all-time winningest college basketball coach. “We’ve addressed a great deal of our needs from a basketball perspective while adding young men who bring a lot more than basketball ability into our program.”
Hall, who was voted Mr. Bossier High School by his classmates, has helped the Bearkats to four straight Top 28 state tournament appearances under coach Jeremiah Williams.
“We are so excited to sign one of the most accomplished players in the state, who also happens to be right up the road in Bossier City,” said McConathy. “Devonte is a proven winner on and off the court. Being named Mr. Bossier High School along with all his basketball accolades speaks volumes to his current and future success.
“Devonte is known for his toughness and tenacious style of play on the defensive end. Offensively, his strength and savvy allow him to make plays for himself while also creating for his teammates. He has an uncanny ability to get to the basket and make plays in transition,” said McConathy.
Hall has helped Bossier to four straight unbeaten district seasons. He has been named the Bossier Parish Most Valuable Player for the past two seasons and has been All-Bossier Parish, All-City for Shreveport-Bossier, and all-district for the past three years.
“Devonte has been blessed to play for Coach Williams in a program that knows nothing but success. Bossier High School’s full court style of play coincides with Demon basketball,” said McConathy. “Devonte joins a long list of our players who have won high school state championships, which is a great attribute for us.”
Seven players on the 2013-14 Demon squad played for teams that won a combined 12 high school state championships, including 2014 seniors Patrick Robinson and Gary Stewart.
Dobbinson is a native of Stamford, Conn., who helped lead coach Brandon Lenhart’s McCook team to a 22-11 record and a 93-point scoring average that ranked fifth among the nation’s Division I junior colleges. Dobbinson led Region IX with 117 3-point baskets while earning first-team All-Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference and second-team All-Region IX honors. He shot 40.6 percent overall and 75 percent on free throws.
“Tony’s skill set, basketball savvy and athleticism in our style of play makes him an ideal fit. His change of pace and ability to make plays and set up his teammates will make our backcourt very explosive for the next two seasons,” said McConathy. “On the defensive end, his ability to guard the ball in the fullcourt will help our pressing defense.”
Dobbinson averaged 20.4 points and shot 41 percent overall, 37 percent on 3s, while averaging 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists to earn second-team All-NCCAC honors as a freshman. He had five 30-point games, twice scoring 38.
“Playing for Coach Lenhart at McCook has prepared Tony for a smooth transition to our system. He has received tremendous coaching and comes to us with a great understanding of being a student-athlete,” said McConathy.
Adekunle averaged seven rebounds and three blocks, along with five points and 55 percent shooting aim, as a sophomore. Williston posted a 27-6 record in 2013-14 under coach Eric Peterson, going 9-1 in league play to win the Mon-Dak Conference title.
“We feel very fortunate to add Deji to the Demon basketball family. He fits everything our program stands for both on and off the court. He is a very talented player but more importantly a great person and a serious student wanting to major in music business management,” said McConathy.
“Coach Peterson has done a great job preparing him to be a Division I student-athlete. Having won a conference championship this past season, he will fit into the championship culture we have built with so many players having won state championships in high school, and with our veterans contributing to the 2013 Southland Conference Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament appearance,” he said.
The Tetons made a run to the Region XIII championship game in 2013-14 after winning that championship in Adekunle’s freshman season.
“On the court his skill set fits perfectly with his ability to run the floor and score with either hand in the paint. His basketball IQ in relation to setting screens and making basketball plays will allow him to have a tremendous impact immediately. Defensively, his size and length gives us a much-needed interior presence in the paint. Deji’s ability to rebound and block shots will enable us to continue playing Demon basketball at our always fast and exciting pace,” said McConathy.
The new signees join an NSU program which has ranked second nationally in scoring in each of the last two years while winning 40 games, including 23 in the 2012-13 season that culminated in the Demons’ third NCAA Tournament appearance under McConathy.
Northwestern State has also ranked among the nation’s best in steals and blocked shots in the past several years, and had six Top 40 NCAA statistical team rankings this season.
The Demons’ program, which carries the slogan “Championship Basketball with a Purpose,” has graduated almost 90 percent of its senior players in McConathy’s 15 years. NSU is in line to again receive national recognition from the NCAA for its high performance in the Academic Progress Rate annual survey when that is released next month.
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