The class includes two Georgia players, including T.J. Shipes from Buford High School and Cameron Solomon, who played at Lovejoy High School and comes to Georgia State from Brevard Community College. Out-of-state members of the class are Coach Hunter's son R.J., who is finishing his high school career in Indiana at Pike High School before moving to Atlanta to join his father, and David Travers from La Costa Canyon HS in Carlsbad, Calif.
"I am so pleased with our first class," said Hunter. "Our coaching staff did a great job of finding some of the most talented players in the country who have bought in to our style of play and will be able to help make an immediate impact at Georgia State. "It was important for us to make an impression on the city, the southeast and the country with this class," Hunter continued. "The Colonial Athletic Association is one of the best basketball conferences in the country and we want to compete every night and win conference championships. We feel as though these four outstanding young men will help us continue toward those goals."
Here is an in-depth look at each signee:
Shipes is a PF prospect from Buford High School in Buford, Georgia, whose mother played basketball at the University of Kentucky. At 6-8, 220 pounds, he moves well for his size (important in Coach Hunter’s system), and shows good athleticism. In September, T.J. told Brian Smith of insidetheutes.com, “I like to finish above the rim. I work hard, and I play hard. I like to win.”
As a sophomore in 2009-10, Shipes averaged over 14 points per game, 11 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. Last season he earned all-state and Gwinnett Tip-off Club team of the year honors, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds per game while leading Buford to a 24-7 record, but losing the Class AA State Championship Game.
"T.J. is the exact type of low post presence that we needed to sign," Hunter commented. "He has all of the attributes that I look for in a big-man and I know that he is going to be able to do some great things at Georgia State."
In September, Shipes had already received scholarship offers from “Rice, App State, Murray State, Cal Poly, Georgia Southern, Western Carolina, and a few more.” T.J. eventually chose Georgia State over Utah, Tennessee, Northwestern, Charlotte, UAB and CAA foe Old Dominion.
A native of Hampton, Georgia, Cameron is a 6-4, 175-pound shooting guard who as a senior in high school led Lovejoy to the state playoffs for the first time since 2004 by averaging 24 points, four rebounds and five assists per game, and scoring 20 or more points 12 times, including performances of 36, 41 and 42 points. This performance earned him recognition as Clayton County Player of the Year in addition to all-region, all-state and all-metro honors. Solomon was also a McDonald's All-American nominee, and was a finalist for 4-A player of the year.
"Cameron is a true scorer," said Hunter. "He has no problem taking the ball to the basket, hitting the mid-range jumper or knocking down a long-range three-pointer. I really like his upside and the talents he can bring to the court."
Solomon pledged to High Point University during the 2010 Final Four and played nine games there last year, averaging 1.9 points and hitting 50 percent of his field goals before an injury sidelined him for the rest of the year.
Ranked as a Scout 3-star player, R.J. is a 6-6, 175-pound shooting guard with an excellent long-range shot and is known as a smart player with a good feel for the game. This is probably traced to the fact that he is Coach Hunter’s son, even though both claim that never once has the son been coached by his father.
“No, he has never coached me one second,” R.J. told Scout last May when he committed to Georgia State. “It is going to be awkward at first but I think it will be good.”
Coach Hunter echoed this yesterday, "I am thrilled at the opportunity to coach R.J.," he said. "I have never had the chance to coach my son and I am truly honored that he decided to come play for me. He is a talented player with tremendous upside and will be a great addition to our program.”
As a junior at Pike High School in Indianapolis, Hunter averaged 14.2 points and shot 39 percent from three-point range, helping his team to a sectional title and the Marion County Championship. He and teammate Marquis Teague, the brother of Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague, led Pike to one of its most successful seasons in recent memory, finishing 21-5.
R.J. chose Georgia State after being recruited by Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt and Iowa.
Travers is a 6-1, 175-pound point guard out of Carlsbad, California with a 3.6 GPA. As a junior, David averaged 12 points, seven assistants and three steals per game, helping lead La Costa Canyon High School to the CIF San Diego Section Championship and the second round of the state playoffs, and a year-end rank of 17th in the state of California.
"To be successful in a conference like the CAA, you must have a great point guard," commented Hunter. "I think David is that type of player. I was impressed with both him and his family from the minute that I met them and I am convinced he is the type of player that will fit perfectly into our system."
Travers plans to study business at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.
Going Forward: Georgia State will be replacing six seniors who will graduate after the 2011-12 season, so this class is just the beginning of recruitment for the 2012-13 season. Also, joining the team on the court next year will be Manny Atkins, a 6-foot-7 guard/forward out of Tucker High School, who is practicing this season with the Panthers while sitting out a year after transferring from Virginia Tech.
Georgia State begins its 2011-12 regular season on Saturday night. The Panthers travel to Seattle, Wash. to face Washington at 5 p.m. in Alaska Airlines Arena for the first game of the World Vision Classic.