TERRE HAUTE —
Dwayne Lathan and Myles Walker got it started. Devonte Brown and Demetrius Moore continued it.
In the last week, the pipeline of talent coming to Indiana State’s men’s basketball program from the South became a torrent.
Two guards from Texas — Charles “Tre” Bennett and Laquarious Paige — made a verbal commitment to sign with the Sycamores on Saturday. Earlier this week, forward Brandon Murphy of Montgomery, Ala., committed to the program.
ISU has always had a glance on the South in its recruiting, but until recently, its energies were focused on mid-southern hunting grounds like Tennessee and Arkansas.
Starting with Lathan, who came to ISU in 2007, the Sycamores turned their attentions further south and the talent has kept coming from Louisiana, Texas, Florida and now, Alabama, ever since.
It’s no coincidence. ISU associate head coach Lou Gudino joined the ISU coaching staff in 2007 and several of the recruits ISU has lured from the region are due to Gudino’s familiarity there after he had been on Louisiana Tech’s staff as well as Frank Phillips College and Howard Junio College.
Paige is another. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound point guard from Orange, Texas, plays at West Orange-Stark High School. He averaged 16 points and four assists last season.
“Coach [Greg] Lansing really knows what he’s doing,” Paige said. “I bonded with him and I bonded with the players. It’s the right place for me.”
Paige, who also was recruited by Rice, Harvard and Sam Houston State, likes his vertical game.
“I’m a jumper. I’m a bouncer. I try to get everyone involved,” Paige said.
Bennett also is from Texas — he played at both Milby and Yates high schools in Houston — but took a longer path to Division I.
After finishing up at nationally ranked Yates, Bennett played at prep school Rise Academy in Philadelphia for a year before he enrolled at Lamar State College, a junior college in Port Arthur, Texas.
The 5-10 point guard averaged 8.8 points and 2.8 assists for the Seahawks last season. He also drained 40.7 percent of his 3-point shots.
Bennett had several looks in high school, including interest from Wichita State, but offers from Sam Houston State and Hawaii didn’t come until he committed to go to prep school.
“It’s been a long road [to play Division I basketball], but that was my dream and I never gave it up,” Bennett said. “The coaches here made me feel at home and I liked them and the players a lot. I got a great welcome from the city too.”
Bennett will have two years of eligibility remaining when he arrives for the 2014-15 season. His style suits what ISU’s coaches want.
“I’m good off the pick-and-roll and I think that’s what attracted the coaches to me,” Bennett said. “I’m pretty athletic. I can knock down an open shot and I can play up-and-down.”
Paige and Bennett crossed pathes on their visits. Everything is big in Texas, including the myriad AAU programs in the Lone Star State, so they didn’t know each other, but they bonded quickly.
“We jelled right away. I’m excited that he committed at the same time I did,” Bennett said.
While Paige and Bennett will patrol the backcourt, Murphy, 6-7, 270 pounds, will give the Sycamores considerable bulk inside.
Murphy plays at Carver High School in Montgomery, one of Alabama’s powerhouse programs. Three of Murphy’s Carver teammates are already committed to Southeastern Conference teams.
Murphy averaged 13 points and 11 rebounds as he helped the Wolverines finish 27-2 last season. Carver won Alabama’s 6A championship in 2012.
“I think it will be good opportunity to go out of state and play,” Murphy told the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser. “I loved my visit and they showed me so much love that I think I can make noise up there.”
All three of the players will join the Sycamores in time for the 2014-15 season. Per NCAA rules, the ISU coaching staff cannot comment on recruits until they sign their Letter Of Intent.