By DRAKE LOHSE
If there’s any phase of the offseason that excites Drake Bulldog die-hards, it’s recruiting. Just saying the word is enough to conjure up memories of a year ago, when brand-new coach Darian DeVries assembled one of the most daunting recruiting classes in a short amount of time.
Late last week, Coach DeVries and the Bulldogs officially welcomed two new recruits to their already potent 2019 recruiting class.
Guard Jonah Jackson, a transfer from John A. Logan College, officially signed on as a Bulldog April 17. Jackson is a Merrillville, Indiana native, where he played alongside current Drake guard D.J. Wilkins. Jackson also played against guard Roman Penn and the Murphy Twins during his high school career.
“Drake felt like home,” Jackson said. “[The Murphys, Wilkins and Penn] are guys I looked up to and it’s an honor to play with them.”
At 6’3”, Jackson is an able-bodied guard with a consistent stroke from the perimeter. At John A. Logan, he averaged 12.4 points-per-game last season, and hit 46 percent from beyond the arch. Jackson transfers to Drake as a junior, and is expected to fill the three-point void sharpshooting Brady Ellingson leaves behind.
Ellingson’s marksmanship won’t be the only hole Darian DeVries looks to fill. The program also loses MVC Defensive Player of the Year and crowd-favorite Nick McGlynn. At 6’10”, transfer Brady Ernst may just be a suitable candidate.
The Clinton native announced his intention to transfer to Drake in early April. Ernst began his career at Iowa State, before complications from a high-school ACL tear sidelined him for the remainder of his first season. After only six games as a Cyclone, Ernst transferred to Indian Hills, before eventually transferring to Florida Gulf Coast University. At Indian Hills, Ernst averaged 9.4 points-per-contest and 6.5 rebounds.
“[Drake’s] a great basketball program that’s going in the right direction and has great people leading it,” Ernst told the Register. “I’m excited to be a part of resurgence of Drake basketball, because the city of Des Moines deserves it.”
Aside from transfers, Drake’s coaching staff is also keeping it’s eye on the next generation of Bulldogs. Back in November, Darian DeVries and his staff officially welcomed aboard three freshmen.
On his very first signing day, DeVries managed to nab Nate Ferguson, Issa Samake and Joseph Yesufu.
Both Ferguson and Yesufu hail from Illinois. Ferguson is a 6’7” forward, and Yesufu is a six-foot guard. Yesufu averaged 14 points in his senior season at Bolingbrook High School, which has become a division one production factory over the years. Ferguson averaged 15.5 points and six rebounds in his final season at Lemont High School.
Issa Samake is perhaps the most exciting prospect in this year’s recruiting class. A local talent, the 6’7” forward led Grand View Christian to a Class 1A championship earlier this year.
“We love Issa,” DeVries said. “He is a terrific young man, who is just scratching the surface of his basketball abilities. He is a local guy that our community will enjoy watching grow over the years within our program. Issa is the definition of a ‘flip-up’ guy. As a guard, you can flip the ball up anywhere close to the rim and he will be able to get it and throw it down. He will be able to add much excitement to our offense with his athleticism and help improve our defense as well.”
Samake’s “flip-up” abilities are sure to create more exciting reels for the fast-paced Bulldogs. Anthony and Tremell Murphy, D.J. Wilkins and Noah Thomas all return as starters. Transfer Roman Penn, who sat out the entire 2018-2019 season, is also expected to have a large role in the offense this season. The team also welcomes back Davenport-native Liam Robbins, who saw experimental minutes behind Nick McGlynn last season, and scored 14 points in the final game against Southern Utah.
Photo courtesy of Dylan Heuer