Luke likes promise of Tech’s recruiting class

HOUGHTON – Michigan Tech men’s basketball coach Kevin Luke readily admits he doesn’t see a Ben Stelzer or Austin Armga among his four-man recruiting class completed this week with the addition of 6-foot-5 Canadian Jason Hawke.

With Stelzer and Armga, Luke knew he had an impact player ready to contribute from day one, and both saw major minutes as true freshmen.

Hawke, Dillon Gordon (see Tuesday’s Daily Mining Gazette) and November signees Luke Cordes (Alpena, Mich.) and Quintan Harris (Bellevue, Mich.) haven’t struck the same chord with Luke, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t see top-end talent among his latest recruits.

It will just take a demonstration of more than raw ability to crack the rotation of the reigning GLIAC champions, with the Huskies returning four starters and seven rotational players.

“I like this class, I like it a lot. We are excited about these young men,” Luke said. “But I don’t want to put that pressure on any one of them right now, saying ‘He will be playing from day one.’ I honestly don’t know if one will or all of them will. I think they are really going to be good program guys. They all posses the ability to (play right away), but I don’t want to put that pressure on them.

“I don’t have that (Stelzer/Armga) feeling with these guys, but if they are as good as I think they are it could happen. Does that make sense?”

Hawke, a native of London, Ontario, will have a chance to play right away just because of his position.

A true ‘three’ man – or small forward – Hawke brings the requisite three-point shooting skills to fit in the Tech offense and can create some off the bounce.

Most importantly, if he can adjust to the speed and strength of the game, his 6-foot-5 frame gives the Huskies flexibility at the end of the game to protect the starting guards defensively.

“That is a much-needed position, because now we don’t need ‘two’ guards guarding ‘three’ guys at the end of the game in the post,” Luke said. “He brings proper height to that position that we just haven’t had the last couple of years. now we can at least look the position. It is a needed addition for mismatch situations.

“He has a good basketball I.Q. and he is very skilled and he is a good enough athlete to be effective,” Luke added. “He has good skills. He can penetrate and set his game up through shooting.”

In theme with the upcoming NFL Draft, the Huskies managed to snag their own “high-upside” recruit with the 6-foot-7 Cordes, like well-known Huskies Matt and Kim Cameron, from Alpena High School.

Another ‘three,’ Cordes comes to Tech with explosive athleticism and a made-for-college shooting stroke.

According to Luke, Cordes now just needs to learn how to combine effort and intensity with his bountiful skill each time on the court.

“I’ll tell you what – this kid has skill. Period. He will probably be our most athletic kid on the roster right now,” Luke said. “He can dunk any way you want, he is a very good shooter and a good athlete.

“Let me put it to you this way. When he understands what it takes to play at this level, he could be a (heck) of a player. I just don’t think he has that right now.”

Rounding out the class will be a much-needed center with the 6-foot-8, 260 pound Harris.

Ali Haidar has left 33 minutes a game to be seized and Harris will be in contention with Kyle Stankowski and James Wezensky from day one.

“He is a man,” Luke said. “He is all of 6-foot-8 and the last time we got a weight on him it was 260. He is a big boy. We are expecting big things out of him because he has the ability to be a pretty good player. He is not roaming too far from the hoop, but he is going to be a handful when he learns our systems. He knows what he is doing down there.”