AUM men's basketball adds six

The Auburn University at Montgomery men's basketball team and head coach Larry Chapman announced the signing of six newcomers to the program for the 2011-12 academic year on Monday.

Justin Zachary (G, 5-11, 160, Calhoun, Ga./Sonoraville HS), Cameron Pridemore (G, 6-0, 170, Knoxville, Tenn./Grace Christian Academy/Lee University), Hunter Anderson (G, 6-1, 175, Kinston, Ala./Kinston HS), Michael Willis (G, 6-4, 190, Auburn, Ala./Auburn HS), Da'Keidres Wade (F, 6-8, 215, Cairo, Ga./Cairo HS) and Marquis Williams (G, 5-8, 160, Bainbridge, Ga./Bainbridge HS/Chattahoochee Valley CC) will suit up for the Senators beginning for the 2011-12 season after signing scholarship papers with the program.

Zachary enjoyed a highly-decorated prep career at Sonoraville High School in Calhoun, Ga., where he currently holds 12 game, season or career records. As a senior, he averaged 20.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game, including a 17-point, 10 assist effort in his final home game. During his career, Zachary scored more than 1,300 career points and helped the Phoenix to consecutive winning seasons in just their fifth season of existence.

Following his senior campaign, Zachary was named the Sonoraville High School Player of the Year by the Northwest Georgia Tip-off Club and to the all-area first team.  He was also chosen to play in the 9th Annual Georgia-Tennessee Boys' All-Star Basketball Classic, where he set a new game record with nine assists to go with his 11 points, four rebounds, and two steals. He was also a standout member of the track and field team where he placed second in the region in the long jump and sixth in the state as a junior.

"Justin is a good, young player who can grow into a nice perimeter player for us," Chapman said. "He is very athletic and is passionate about the game of basketball. He also excels in the classroom."

Pridemore, who signed with Lee University following a standout high school career at Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville, Tenn. During his career with the Rams, he scored 1,346 points, shooting 59 percent from the floor and making 113 3-pointers.

During his senior season at GCA, Pridemore averaged 21.0 points, 3.8 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.4 rebounds per game, while scoring in double figures 22 times, including 30 or more four times. He was the District 3-A and region most valuable player and was selected to the Class A Tennessee Sports Writers Association all-state team as both a junior and senior. As a junior, Pridemore averaged 19.5 points, 4.4 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game, while averaging 17.4 points, 3.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per contest during his sophomore campaign.

"Cameron brings maturity and leadership to our team, plus his academic aspirations are high," Chapman said. "He originally signed with Lee University and spent last year focusing me on academics and helping coach his high school team. He is a very talented player that we are excited about having in our program."

The Pea River Valley Conference Player of the Year as a senior, Anderson joins the Senators after scoring 1,734 career points at Kinston High School in Kinston, Ala. During his senior season, he averaged 16.2 points, 6.1 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 4.6 steals per game, while helping the Bulldogs to a 22-10 record and their first South Regional tournament appearance since 1996. A three-sport star at KHS, Anderson was an all-state safety after leading the area in interceptions as a senior, as well as the starting centerfielder for the baseball team.

"Hunter is another guard who brings outside skill and shooting ability to our team," Chapman said of Anderson. "Last season, we struggled to make shots, so we hope Hunter will be able to come in and help us with that."

A second-team all-area selection as a senior, Willis helped Auburn High School to a 19-13 record in his final season by averaging 15.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest. As a junior, he averaged 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals per contest for head coach Frank Tolbert.

"Michael Willis should bring a real quality to our AUM men's basketball program," Chapman said. "He is a big wing player, who possesses the skills which I believe will assure him of a successful four-year career. Perhaps the most important credential is academic, where he has spent a year at Auburn University studying mechanical engineering. We here in the AUM basketball program are delighted to welcome Michael and his family to the AUM family.

Wade will join the AUM frontcourt following a strong prep career at Cairo High School in Cairo, Ga. During his final season, Wade was a four-time CHS Player of the week and averaged 14.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and 2.3 assists per contest. He enjoyed his best game of the season against Crisp County High School, when he scored a season-best 27 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked four shots. As a junior, he averaged 8.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, while helping the Syrupmakers to a 16-8 record.

"Dak has very good hands and runs the floor well," Chapman said. "His passion for the game of basketball reminds me a lot of that of Nate Thomas, a guy who was a really good player at AUM. He is a young man of great character and I think will have a fine four-year career here."

The final member of the signing class is Williams, a junior college guard who joins the Senators from Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City, Ala. Last season, he averaged 8.8 points, 6.4 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, while shooting 35.2 percent from behind the arc. Williams finished the season ranked third nationally in assists per game and scored in doubles figures 10 times. He tallied six games with 10 or more assists, including a season-high 13 against Faulkner State.

As a freshman, Williams attended Jefferson Davis Community College in Brewton, Ala. In his season with the Warhawks, he averaged 9.5 points, 4.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game, while posting a season-high 23 points and 12 assists against Wallace-Selma.

Prior to joining the college ranks, Williams was a three-sport athlete at Bainbridge High School in Bainbridge, Ga., where he was an all-state cornerback in football, an all-state point guard in basketball and ran the 100 and 200-yard dashes and was on the Bearcats' 4-by-100 and 4-by-400-yard relay teams.

"Marquis has all the traits of a true point guard and tremendous leadership qualities," Chapman said. "He comes highly recommended by his junior college and high school coaches and definitely fills a need on our team with his experience and maturity."

Chapman and the Senators will open the 2011-12 season on Monday, Oct. 31, when they host Martin Methodist at the AUM Physical Education Complex at 7 p.m.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Auburn Montgomery Athletics