BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb University signed two men’s basketball student-athletes to National Letters of Intent Thursday, adding versatile forwards Onzie Branch and Jerome Hill.
“As we build our program, we are trying to balance these first two classes primarily with high school kids, as well as some transfers,” said Gardner-Webb head coach Chris Holtmann. “I couldn’t be happier about these two additions to our second recruiting class.”
Branch (Topeka, Kan. / Cloud County CC) will have two years of eligibility remaining when he joins the Runnin’ Bulldogs for the 2012-2013 season. The 6-foot-6, 215-pounder can effectively play three positions on the floor, and posted solid all-around numbers as a sophomore this past season.
Branch helped Cloud County to a 25-8 record, averaging 10.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game – becoming the only player on the roster to finish among the top-3 on the team in scoring, rebounding and assists. That versatility earned Branch a spot on the NJCAA All-Region VI honorable mention team.
Branch starred on the high school level at Topeka (Kan.) High, where he earned second-team Class 6A All-State honors as a senior. He averaged 16 points and eight boards per game in his final prep campaign, also earning All-City and All-Conference honors.
Branch chose Gardner-Webb over Wright State, Albany (N.Y.) and Charleston Southern.
“Onzie is a terrific person, student and addition to our program,” said Holtmann. “We recruited him for several months, and we are very excited about his immediate contribution. He is skilled, athletic, versatile and came from a very well coached program at Cloud.”
Hill (Adel, Ga. / Cook County HS) is also a multi-faceted player, recruited as a forward – but capable of playing as many as four positions. An outstanding athlete, the 6-foot-5, 210-pounder served as the primary ball hander for his team at times in 2011-2012 and put up impressive numbers throughout his final season.
Hill earned second-team Class 2A All-State honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after averaging 23 points, 14 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. He added 2.3 steals and 2.5 blocks per game on the defensive end.
The standout forward recently played with a team of U.S. All-Stars during a tour of France over spring break and has been selected to play in the 2012 GACA North/South All-Star Classic later this spring.
Hill chose Gardner-Webb over Jacksonville, Charleston Southern and Georgia Southern, among others.
“Jerome’s best days as a basketball player are ahead of him,” Holtmann said. “He is an athletic forward with a very good motor. We are excited to see his continued growth as a player throughout his career. He is a terrific talent.”
Branch and Hill join a recruiting class that also includes a pair of November signees – 6-foot-2 guard Isaiah Ivey and 6-foot-5 guard Logan Stumpf. The ‘Dogs also welcome 6-foot-1 point guard Jarvis Davis to the fold next season. Davis, a transfer from UCF, sat out last season and will be eligible to play in 2012-2013 as a redshirt sophomore.