Benford Signs Pair Of State Top 40 Hoops Recruits For 2015-16
7-Footer Brice Joins All-State Guard Brown As Mean Green Basketball Signees
DENTON - North Texas head coach Tony Benford signed two of Texas' top 40 high school players - Rickey Brice of Arlington's Pantego Christian and Ja'Michael Brown of Pro-Vision Academy in San Antonio - to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.
Brice and Brown are the 10th and 11th signees in the Benford era (since 2012-13) to either hail from the Lone Star state or to have played their previous season in the state of Texas. Brice represents the fourth student-athlete from the Metroplex to sign with Benford and the Mean Green.
The signings also give North Texas, which will have two additional scholarships to fill before the 2015-16 season, a strong classification balance. On top of Brice and Brown, NT will have three sophomores, one junior and five seniors on next year's roster.
"We couldn't be more excited to have Rickey and Ja'Michael on board," Benford said. "These are two quality players, but more importantly they are quality people. They fit the exact mold of the type of individuals we want at North Texas: great character, hard workers, wonderful families and well coached."
Rickey Brice - 7-0, 260, Center, Pantego Christian HS, Arlington, Texas
Brice becomes the first 7-footer to sign with North Texas since Sean Riley in Nov. of 1994. After averaging 15.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, TexasHoops.com ranked Brice No. 23 among all Texas players in the class of 2015. Hoop Scoop referenced his footwork, good hand and incredible wing span when naming him the No. 221 player in the country, up from No. 232 following his sophomore season.
He was also a TAPPS 1-4A All-District selection, and Rivals.com rates the big man as a three-star recruit after garnering attention from college programs across the country. Brice was coached on the AAU circuit by Gregory "Jazzy" Hartwell at Urban DFW Elite.
"One of the goals I had when I took the job here at North Texas was to win with local players. Rickey could have played at a lot of places, and I'm glad he chose us. It's rare to sign a 7-footer with the type of skillset that Rickey has. He might be the biggest sleeper in the entire state of Texas because of his ability to score from anywhere on the court - inside or out. He's a great defender and shot blocker, and because he's only 17 years old he has a very high ceiling for growth. He can have an immediate impact at North Texas and we're very fortunate to have him join our program. I'd like to commend Rob Evans for his diligent work in recruiting Rickey."
Ja'Michael Brown - 6-1, 195, Point Guard, Pro-Vision Academy, San Antonio, Texas
Brown, a Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC) 5A All-State Team selection last season, was honored by the San Antonio Express-News as a selection to their Boys Basketball Super Team and 5A All-Area team. In fact, he was one of two runner-ups for the paper's All-Area Player of the Year award. He was also named an All-District 26-5A honoree, and had Madison High School on the verge of the UIL State Tournament before falling to Converse Judson in the Region IV title game.
Brown averaged 18.9 points and 4.0 assists per game as a junior last year. Those figures helped him rank No. 37 among all Texas seniors by TexasHoops.com, and Future-150 rates Brown a three-star recruit.
A versatile athlete, Brown was named a first-team All-District 26-5A football player as a return specialist, and a second-team wide receiver. He will attend Pro-Vision Academy for his senior season, and play AAU ball for Ky O'Dell and Raymond Briggs at Two Ten Jayhawks.
"Simply put, Ja'Michael is very explosive, and I can't wait until he can suits up for us next season," Benford said. "He has the ability to play both the point and shooting guard positions, and had college offers from all over the region. He can get into the paint on just about anyone, but at the same time, can keep just about anyone out of the paint defensively. Ja'Michael is an outstanding defender, but is still a great shooter and distributor with the ball. I can't speak enough to his explosiveness and toughness, and I feel like he's exactly the type of player we need to win here at North Texas. I'd like to thank my assistant coach David Anwar for such a great job throughout the recruiting process with Ja'Michael."