Quinnipiac targets their backcourt of the future in the 2012 class

Quinnipiac Bobcats, 18-14 (10-8 NEC), Lost Semifinals of NEC Tournament to LIU

Players Lost:
G James Johnson –16.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.3 spg, All-NEC 2nd Team Selection
G Kevin Tarca – 6 games played
F Alex Jackson (transfer) – 1.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg
G Terrace Bobb-Jones (transfer) – 9 games played, 0.9 ppg, 0.9 rpg
G Nate Gause (transfer) – 3.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg

Incoming Recruits:
Tariq Carey, 6’2” G – St. Anthony High (NJ)
Kendrick Ray
, 6’0” PG – Middletown High (NY)
James Ford
, 6’4” G – Quality Education Academy (NC)
Shaquille Shannon, 6’3” G – Conners State Junior College (OK)

The 2011-12 season for the Quinnipiac Bobcats played out much like every other season under head coach Tom Moore. Quinnipiac once again led the NEC in rebounding, played stout defense, and found themselves with a realistic chance to capture their first ever NEC tournament title.  But as was the case for the past few years, Quinnipiac lacked the offensive firepower late in critical games to push them over the top.  To exacerbate the problem, the Bobcats will have to move on this offseason without their leading scorer and captain, James Johnson.  With this in mind, Moore recruited an impressive haul of guards, which should help temper the loss of Johnson and improve their offensive efficiency in the long run.

Perhaps the best-known recruit out of the group is 6-foot-2 guard Tariq Carey.  Carey chose Quinnipiac thanks to the persistence of Moore, despite receiving interest from Auburn, Clemson, and Boston University, just to name a few.  Carey makes his living penetrating into the lane and finishing around the rim.  The 180-pound Carey isn’t afraid of contact, although he’ll definitely need to add bulk and be a bit more cautious when facing stronger collegiate competition.  In addition, his ball control and passing skills are above average, which sets Carey up as a combo guard in year one for the Bobcats.  The outside shot is something the Carey needs to work on, but for now he could serve as a valuable contributor off the bench.  With more opportunity, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if he lands in the starting lineup and on the All-NEC Rookie Team at season’s end.

Another recruit who should see meaningful minutes in the Bobcat backcourt is point guard Kendrick Ray, who committed to Quinnipiac last September.  Kendrick, the younger brother of the former Villanova standout Allen Ray, is known to facilitate and create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates, thanks to his excellent court vision and tight handle.  Ray can also push the ball well in transition – an attribute that should come in handy for a team that rebounds the ball exceptionally well on the defensive end.  Ray projects as the Bobcat’s future floor general, but for now, he’ll gain valuable experience as senior Dave Johnson’s back-up.

After signing Carey and Ray, Quinnipiac had filled all their available scholarships until two more opened up with the transfers of Alex Jackson and Terrace Bobb-Jones.  As a result, Moore used the opportunity to further solidify his backcourt of the future, by recently signing under-the-radar prospects James Ford and Shaquille Shannon.

Ford possesses good athleticism and can score a variety of ways, but it may be his outstanding range that’s his best skill.  Ford’s ability to drain it from downtown should help a Quinnipiac club that finished in the bottom half of the NEC in three-point percentage last season.  With James Johnson’s departure, only Zaid Hearst, Dave Johnson, and Garvey Young remain as Quinnipiac’s competent long-range shooters, therefore Ford has an opportunity to play the niche role of a reliable shooter off the bench in his freshman season.

Little is currently known about Shannon, as the only junior college recruit in the group.  What is known is Shannon (besides having an awesome name) has the potential to be lock-down defender, which is quite the asset considering the many talented wing players that reside in the NEC.  It’s unknown how much he’ll contribute right away, and with the Bobcat’s deep rotation, it may make sense if Moore redshirts Shannon for a season before donning the blue and gold.

Overall, Tom Moore has to be pleased with his latest recruiting class.  Obviously, Quinnipiac wants to compete for a Northeast Conference title now, and will, but the 2013-14 season may serve as the Bobcat’s best chance to capture that elusive championship.  By then, veterans Ike Azotam, Ousmane Drame, and Zaid Hearst supplemented with the upside of this 2012 recruiting class may have Quinnipiac fans celebrating in Hamden, some day soon.

Ryan Peters covers Sacred Heart and Northeast Conference men’s basketball on Pioneer Pride and Big Apple Buckets.  You can follow Ryan on Twitter here.

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