Winthrop coach Randy Peele has wrapped up a six-player recruiting class for the 2007-08 basketball season, signing 5-10 point guard Justin Burton of Durham, N.C.
Burton led Riverside High School to the semifinals of the Class 4A state tournament this season and was the PAC-6 Conference player of the year. He averaged 18 points and four assists in leading the Pirates to a 28-4 record and the regular season and conference tournament championships.
Peele said Burton is a lot like Chris Gaynor, the Eagles' three-year starter at the point guard. At 160 pounds, Burton is about the same size as Gaynor, with perhaps a little more quickness.
"He's a pure point guard, he's smart and he's a winner," Peele said. "He has a great basketball IQ, just like Chris."
Burton, a three-time all-conference pick, will play for the East in North Carolina's East-West High School All-Star Game July 16th in Greensboro.
"He's a great kid, great person," Riverside coach Tim Ross said, "but he can play some ball. He shoots it well from the perimeter, but he can go by you and penetrate."
Burton fills the scholarship that came open after the death of De'Andre Adams, and the hope is that Burton can, in some way, fill the role Adams played coming off the bench.
Adams, with his quickness, hustle and energy, could change the tempo of a game. Ross says that's what Burton can do.
"He can hit you hard," Ross said. "You've got to pay attention to him on the perimeter, but he can go by you, too. He's very versatile and was a defensive spark for us. Plus, he could go on a 10-point run by himself. And he's good at the free throw line."
Peele likes Burton's ability to "change gears" and the way he can penetrate and find the open man "at the right time."
"He doesn't have blazing speed like De'Andre," Peele said, "but he can get by you, get in the lane and make something happen."
Burton, who set a Riverside record with more than 1,300 career points, was also recruited by UNC Wilmington, Appalachian State, UNC Greensboro, Robert Morris, NCAA Division II National Champion Barton College and East Tennessee. N.C. State also showed some interest.
Burton and Marc-David Vil, who signed last November, add depth to a backcourt that already includes veterans Gaynor and Michael Jenkins and redshirt freshman Byron Faison.
Peele also signed forwards George Valentine (6-8, 223), Chris Malcolm (6-7, 203) and Charles Corbin (6-7, 226) and 6-9, 235-pound center Andy Buechert to give the Eagles the most well-rounded recruiting class in the Big South Conference. Peele added a player capable of adding depth at every position except small forward, but he has Antwon Harris, Mantoris Robinson and redshirt freshman Rainer Blickle, plus senior Taj McCullough, capable of playing that spot.
The only other team in the league to sign as many players was VMI.
"We had specific needs we felt like we had to recruit to," Peele said, "and I think we did that.
"Our biggest need was getting a center who could rebound and defend against big men outside our league, and we think Andy can do that. But what I wanted to do was recruit to create competition. Looking at our roster, I think we can be deeper than we were last year one through 13.
"It's way too soon to call this a great class, because you have to see how they develop. But I'm really excited about this group."
Winthrop Signees for 2007-08