Men’s Basketball Inks Three More for 2011-12
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – After wrapping up its final season of transitional play the USC Upstate men's basketball team announced today the addition of three players to its 2011-12 roster.
Mario Blessing, Fred Miller and Adrian Rodgers round out the signing class and the trio will join early signee Ty Greene on campus this fall.
"During the spring signing period we focused on our most pressing need, backcourt players," said head coach Eddie Payne. "I feel that the class that we have signed has enabled us to upgrade our team in both size and athleticism and the addition of these four individuals will go a long way in our effort to improve our team. These individuals will be freshman so there will be times where we have growing pains but down the road we will be better off with these players."
Mario Blessing (6-2, Guard, Schelklingen, Germany) finished his senior campaign averaging 13.3 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. Blessing helped guide Urspring HS to three consecutive national championships (2008-10). In the 2010 championship game, Blessing scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 63-50 win over current Connecticut Husky Nils Giffey's Berlin squad.
Blessing also helped the team claim the German High School Championship in 2009 and the incoming Spartan claimed a pair of European Championships in 2008 (in Bosnia) and 2010 (in Lithuania).
"Urspring will send a proven winner to Upstate," said Urspring head coach Ralph Junge. "In his four years with Urspring High School, Mario became the captain and leader of a championship Team. His work ethic and passion for the game helped Urspring to win four national championships. We wish him the same successful career at Upstate and I know that Coach Payne will gain a great player, student and most important an outstanding person with the addition of Mario."
Fred Miller (6-4, Guard, Ellenwood, Ga.) will arrive in Spartanburg after helping guide Chamblee (Ga.) HS to the state playoffs. The Bulldogs finished with a 15-11 mark overall and were 8-4 in league play.
Miller finished the season ranked in the top-10 in three different statistical categories in DeKalb County. He finished the season fourth in 3-point FG percentage (46.6%; 27-for-58), sixth in assists (4.7 apg) and 10th in scoring (15.3 ppg).
"Upstate is getting a high character kid who I feel will be a major part of the Spartan program," said Chamblee head coach Ceaser Burgess. "Fred has tremendous basketball skills and will work to continue to develop into a great player."
Adrian Rodgers (6-4, Guard, Alpharetta, Ga.) spent a post-graduate season this year at the Maine Central Institute prep school (Pittsville, Maine), following a solid prep career at Centennial (Ga.) HS.
Rodgers finished the 2010-11 campaign averaging 6.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. He connected on 45 percent of his field goal attempts and shot 82 percent at the charity stripe. The incoming Spartan helped lead MCI to the NEPSAC tournament championship and during the tournament he averaged 13.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Rodgers, who hit 62 percent of his shots in the postseason, scored 20 points in the semifinal win over No. 1 Brewster.
Rodgers was a McDonald's All-American Nominee while at Centennial HS and as a senior he averaged 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists per contest.
"Upstate got a steal with the signing of Adrian Rodgers," said MCI head coach Dave "Soupy" Campbell. "Adrian is a very talented player and is an excellent mid-range jump shooter. I feel he will be a great addition to the Spartan program. He is a great kid and he is very coachable, he will do all the right things."