Will Wade is building the future of Chattanooga basketball piece by piece.
Wade, who took over the program only last May, gained another essential building block on Tuesday when 6-foot-6 forward Anthony "Duke" Ethridge committed. Ethridge, a sophomore at South Georgia Tech, averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and 1.9 blocks and shot 52.5 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range last season while earning freshman-of-the-year honors in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association. Ethridge was ranked among the National Junior College Athletic Association leaders in six statistics.
But statistics alone don't tell Ethridge's story. By all accounts, he's a rugged competitor who hates to lose.
Ethridge will essentially step in for departing senior Z. Mason at, in the parlance of Wade's system, the "mismatch" position. That means he can overcome a lack of height with the ability to out-quick taller players or take them out on the perimeter. And if he finds himself guarded by an opposing team's two or three man, he'll be able to take him to the basket.
Ethridge has been compared favorably to another South Georgia Tech player, Jae Crowder, who went on to play for Marquette and is now with the Dallas Mavericks.
“Right now, [Ethridge] might even be a little better than Jae at this stage in his career,” South Georgia Tech coach Steven Wright told the Albany Herald. ... "“It’s really not a basketball thing, but the biggest similarity between them is that they have some dog in them. It doesn’t have anything to do with basketball. If they went into a card game, I’m sure the same thing would come out in them. That’s the one thing that they have, and not every kid has that. When it’s time to make a play, they go make a play for you.”
Ethridge fits in with a strong recruiting class that also includes Justin Tuoyo, a 6-10 transfer from VCU who has three years of eligibility remaining. He's considered an upper-major level shot blocker. The Mocs have also received commitments from guards Shaquille Preston, a 6-3, 175-pounder from East Jefferson High School in Metairie, La. and 6-1 Brandon Maxwell, who recently transferred from Lake Howell (Fla.) to Orlando Christian Prep.
Preston, known as a top defensive player, was getting attention from several upper-level Division I programs, including Alabama, Cincinnati, Clemson, VCU, West Virginia and Wichita State before committing to the Mocs. He was rated the No. 11 prospect in the NOLA.com/Times-Picayune Super 16.
NOLA.com wrote that Preston “has an uncanny ability to take over the game when his team needs him most, especially in the fourth quarter.”
Maxwell, a deadly 3-point shooter and tough on-ball defender, is the son of former Florida star Vernon Maxwell, who played in the NBA for for 13 seasons. The younger Maxwell averaged 20.7 points as a junior.
Chattanooga will also gain the services of 6-4 sophomore Tre McLean, who followed UTC assistant Wes Long from Queens University in Charlotte, where Long was the head coach. With a seven-foot wingspan, McLean is perfect for Wade’s system.
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