Monarchs Add Recruits From Australia & Pennsylvania

April 11, 2002
By ODU Athletics

April 11, 2002

NORFOLK, VA. - Old Dominion University head basketball coach Blaine Taylor announced the signing of two-time first team All-State guard John Morris (Camp Hill, PA.) and 6-9 Australian under-18 School Boy MVP Alex Loughton (Perth, Australia) to national letters of intent. This brings the total to four newcomers for the 2002-03 basketball season. In November, the Monarchs inked Isaiah Hunter, a 6-2 guard from Charlotte, NC., and 6-10 center Janko Mrksic from Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada.

"In Morris, we have a savvy, skilled and tough player who it seems has always found a way to win. His striking feature, is his ability to shoot the ball with great range," says Taylor. "Alex has a real good nose for the ball. He is very comfortable with it in his hands and takes well to a physical game. Alex has nice perimeter skills, excellent passing instincts, and shooting touch for a youngster his size."

Morris averaged 27.2 points, 6.1 assists and 5.2 steals per game for Trinity High School. The 6-2 guard led Trinity to a 59-3 record over two years, winning the Pennsylvania AA State Championship in 2001 and reaching the state semi-finals in 2002. Morris shot .934 from the free throw line this past season and scored 37 points in the state semi-finals. Morris, who is one of only four 2,000 career point scorers in Pennsylvania history has also been selected to play in the Pennsylvania-Maryland All-Star shootout. The son of John and Sue Morris, John plans to major in business at Old Dominion.

"I was very impressed with the coaching staff and the family atmosphere at Old Dominion. Being part of the first class to play in the new convocation center is special. I knew this is where I wanted to go for my college experience."

The Camp Hill/Middleton, PA. area produced two former Monarch standouts in two-time All-American, and former NBA player, assistant coach and General Manager, Dave Twardzik ('72), and 6-10 Jay Roundtree('75), starter and member of the ODU 1975 Division II National Championship team.

Alex Loughton, a 6-9, 235-pound forward averaged 17.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game for the Australian under-20 team this past season. He helped lead his under-18 team to the Australian school boy National Championships in 1999 and 2000. Loughton was named Most Valuable Player in the 2000 Championship game, after scoring 19 points and hauling down 28 rebounds. Loughton plans to major in business while at Old Dominion. He is the son of Ken and Loraine Loughton.

"Old Dominion is a fantastic new opportunity for me, " said Loughton. The new business building and convocation center made this a solid choice. I am looking forward to working with this impressive coaching staff and improving my overall game."

Yanko Mrksic led Bishop Ryan High School to the City Championship with a 24-8 record. He averaged 14.5 points 3.4 blocks, and 14.7 rebounds per game. Mrksic scored 18 points and hauled in 17 rebounds in the City Championship game. Janko was selected to the City All-Star team and first team All-Star REB Invitational Tournament where he averaged 22 points, and 20 rebounds in three games. Last year, while playing for the provincial team Grass Roots Canada, Yanko helped lead them to the semi-finals of the NIKE tournament in Orlando. He scored 16 points in that semi-final game against Tallahassee. He also helped lead the Canadian Junior National Team to the finals of the World Championships, losing to the USA by one point in France.

Isaiah Hunter led his Independence High team to a 22-9 record advancing to the North Carolina State High School quarterfinals. Hunter average 21.6 points, 2.6 assists, 2.3 steals. He hit .897 from the free throw line and earned first team All-MECCA8 as well as first team All-Conference and the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER'S First team All-Mecklenberg County squad. Hunter scored 31 points against West Charlotte in the conference finals and 25 against Cabarrus High School in the sectional finals. Hunter was an AAU All-American last year. As a junior, he averaged 18.3 points per game and was a member of the Charlotte Royal AAU 17-under team which finished third at the AAU Nationals.

" Overall, we are very pleased with our recruiting this year, and I think these four young men will compliment each other in our schemes and various lineups, " said Taylor. "We wanted to not only stabilize the program, but give us a sense of optimism for next year and beyond."

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