Ferris men’s basketball inks 4-member recruiting class

Ferris State wing Jaylin McFadden was a member of the 2016 recruiting class. (Photo courtesy of Ferris State Athletics)

BIG RAPIDS — The nationally-ranked Ferris State University men’s basketball squad, which is off to a 5-0 start this year as the defending Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion, has announced the additions of four talented prep recruits who will join FSU next fall.

During the fall signing period, the Bulldogs inked the talented group of wings Ben Davidson (St. Clair), Randy Gilbert (Detroit/Cass Tech) and Nelson McCauley (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills) along with post Mason Pline (Fowler). All four will be freshmen in eligibility starting in the 2018-19 season.

“We’re excited to land these four impressive prep recruits from inside the state of Michigan,” said fifth-year FSU head coach Andy Bronkema. “With the success we’ve had over the last three years, we’ve been able to attract talented players and this group fits the bill. They’ll help us quickly replace what is a great senior class this season.”

The 6-3 Davidson averaged 19 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals per game as a junior last season at St. Clair High School under head coach Shawn Sharrow. He has claimed back-to-back MAC Gold MVP honors and was a Prep Hoops All-State honoree last year. The Blue Water All-Area choice has been tabbed as one of the top 50 players in the state of by Prep Hoops and Inside Prep Sports, which also has him ranked as the state’s ninth-best shooting guard after helping lead his team to a 15-7 mark. He has scored a career-high 37 points in a single game and also played on the AAU level for the Grand Rapids Storm under coach Jason Martin.

“Ben was our earliest commitment ever,” said Bronkema. “We hit it off right away and never looked back. He has a creative style of play and is a player who can play multiple positions on offense for us.”

Gilbert, 6-5, has played on the wing at Detroit Cass Tech where he averaged 13.3 points and 6.6 rebounds last year. While at Cass Tech, he’s played under former college coach Steve Hall along with assistant coach Richard Legreair, a former Bulldog great. As a junior last year, he led Cass Tech to the Detroit City Championship and a district title with a 20-5 record. He earned Bank Hoops Underclassman All-State accolades as a sophomore and has totaled 22 points in a game. Gilbert is one of the state’s top 40 prospects by Prep Hoops and ranked 22nd overall by Inside Prep Sports, which also has him listed as the No. 7 power forward. On the AAU level, he competed for the Super Friends program under Larry Borum.

“Our program’s history with players from Detroit is well known and we are very excited to bring in a member of last year’s City Champs,” Bronkema said. “Randy has a ready made college body and the ability to stretch the floor. His desire to sign early with us is a huge compliment to our program.”

The 6-3 McCauley is a West Michigan product from Grand Rapids’ Ottawa Hills, which posted a 14-7 mark last year under head coach Van Mayfield. He totaled 18 points with seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks per game while garnering All-OK White Conference honors. A Meijer Scholar-Athlete, McCauley totaled 34 points in a game and is ranked No. 32 by Prep Hoops in addition to No. 27 by Inside Prep Sports where he’s listed as the No. 5 small forward. He played on the AAU level with the Michigan Mustangs for coach Norm Oden.

“It is always a priority to pull talent out of Grand Rapids up the street to Big Rapids,” said Bronkema. “Nelson fits our system perfectly and brings versatility and above the rim athleticism to the table.”

Finally, the 6-7 Pline totaled 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists inside last year for Fowler High School where he was coached by Jason George. The All-CMAC selection earned Bank Hoops Underclassman All-State honors as a sophomore and has scored a career-best 28 points in a game. He helped his squad to a 18-7 overall mark last year while winning both district and regional crowns. Presently, he’s ranked 21st in the state by Prep Hoops and in the top 40 overall as one of the state’s top 12 power forwards by Inside Prep Sports. Pline played for the G3 Grind in AAU hoops under Brian Keeton.

“Mason was one of our first offers for the 2018 class and it feels good to have him sign after a long recruitment,” said Bronkema. “We view him as a skilled post player with versatility that will make him a difficult match up.”

Together, the class helps to keep the future bright for the Bulldogs as they continue to build on championship success.

“Two words that come to mind when thinking about our four signees are fit and versatility,” said Bronkema. “Each player fits Ferris State and what the University has to offer very well. Along with that each player comes with multiple tools that project to develop well.

“Coach Jim Lake and our staff continue to identify system guys and we look forward to completing the class in April and progressing with several underclassmen,” he added.

The Bulldogs are the three-time defending Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament Champions and have made three-straight trips to the NCAA Division II Tournament. Last year, FSU won a school-record 28 games and was a consensus top 15 team in virtually every Division II preseason poll this campaign.

Ferris State will next host Ohio Valley on Sunday starting at 1 p.m. inside Wink Arena.

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