Posted: May 30, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Head coach Billy Taylor has announced the signing of five student-athletes that will join the Mountain Hawks program in the fall of 2007. This newest class, which is the largest in Taylor’s tenure, consists of three guards, one forward and one center, including Rob Keefer (North Wales, Pa.), Prentice Small (North Babylon, N.Y.), Michael Ojo (Santa Monica, Calif.), Brian Hunter (Allentown, Pa.) and David Safstrom (Everett, Wash.). “After graduating four players from last year’s team who were instrumental to our program, it was important to bring in a class that could help us in a number of areas, including on the perimeter, in the post and in terms of depth,” Taylor explained. “We are excited about this newest group of student-athletes coming to Lehigh and feel like they will make a significant and positive impact on our program, both on and off of the floor.”
Rob Keefer arrives in South Bethlehem from Abington Friends in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania where he played under head coach Steve Chadwin. A 6-2 shooting guard who averaged 17 points, four rebounds and four assists as a senior, Keefer served as team captain, helping lead Abington Friends to the Friends School League Championship. Keefer also garnered First Team All-League honors as well as a spot on the Montgomery County Super 10 team. A recipient of the Markward Award, Keefer has had success on the camp circuit as well, earning a spot on the Eastern invitational All-Star Team.
“Rob is a gifted scoring guard with a very mature game,” explained Taylor. “He has excelled versus terrific high school competition and has been taught the game extremely well.” He continues, “Rob has a great knack for reading screens to set up his jump shot. He also has the ability to put the ball on the floor for his mid-range skills. Rob has a nice level of confidence in his abilities and has a chance to be an excellent player in our program.”
Prentice Small is a speedy point guard who played his high school basketball at St. John the Baptist in West Islip, New York for Charlie Peck. Standing 5-8, he averaged 26 points per game as a senior, including 33 per game during his team’s playoff run, to go along with nine assists and three steals, as he helped lead his high school to a regular season Class A Long Island Championship. Small garnered First-Team All-Long Island accolades after each of the past two seasons and was named the MVP of the NSCHSAA as well as LongIslandBasketball.com’s Player of the Year. He was also a 2007 All-Long Island Boys Basketball selection by Newsday and a First-Team All-New York State Class A honoree.
“Prentice is a tremendous leader and proven winner that has been very dedicated and committed to improving his game, “Taylor said. “He’s continued to prove people wrong and stepped up to the challenges placed in front of him. Prentice will help our team a great deal with his speed and ability to pressure the basketball along with his playmaking skills.” Taylor continues, “We have a great need for the skill sets that Prentice brings to the table with his talents as a scorer and distributor.”
A three-time All-League selection out of California, Michael Ojo arrives at Lehigh from highly regarded Crossroads School in Santa Monica where he played for Kevin Brown. A 6-4 swing forward, Ojo averaged 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists per game as a senior, garnering team MVP honors and an All-American nomination. A two-time captain, Ojo is from the same high school that produced current NBA talents Baron Davis (Golden State Warriors) and Austin Croshere (Dallas Mavericks).
“Michael is a very talented athlete and a proven scorer at the high school level,” explained Taylor. “He has the ability to slash to the rim, hit the mid-range jump shot, and brings versatility and depth to our wing position.” He continues, “With good length and speed, Michael has a chance to become a tremendous defender for us. If he can pick up our system early on, Michael has a chance to get a good start on what could be a very successful career.”
Coming to Lehigh from nearby Emmaus High School is Brian Hunter, a 6-2 guard. Hunter played his high school basketball for Andy Stephens and helped lead the Green Hornets to the Lehigh Valley Conference Championship while averaging 22 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals per game. Hunter was named the Morning Call Player of the Year as well as the East Penn News Male Athlete of the Season, while garnering Lehigh Valley Conference MVP honors. He is a two-time All-Area and All-Conference selection, having scored nearly 1,400 points during his career.
“Brian had an outstanding senior year, helping lead Emmaus to terrific success and brings smart and intelligent savvy to the game,” Taylor said. “He is a competitive and driven young man who can get the best out of his teammates. As evidenced this past season, he has great scoring ability, which includes good range on his jump shot and the ability to dribble penetrate.”
The final member of Lehigh’s class of 2011 is David Safstrom, a 7-0 center out of Everett High School in Washington, the same school as former Mountain Hawks standout Zlatko Savovic ‘03. Safstrom, who played for Aaron Nations, averaged ten points, eight rebounds and four blocks as a senior as he earned team MVP honors as well as a spot on the All-Wesco North Second-Team. A member of the National Honor Society, Safstrom carries a 3.75 grade point average in the classroom.
“David has very nice post skills, soft hands and good size,” Taylor explains. “He was a late bloomer in terms of his basketball productivity and we think his best days are ahead of him.” Taylor adds, “David is a bright young man and should be an excellent fit within our campus community.”
Along with the five new additions to the program, Lehigh returns seven letterwinners from last year’s team, including four starters.