Kampe’s windfall class

By Web Master

By BRAD SLAZINSKI

Contributing Reporter

The Oakland University men’s basketball team posted a respectable 17-14 overall record last season, made it to the second round of the Summit League tournament and did not lose any players from their starting lineup. Despite these facts, head coach Greg Kampe has hit the road with a fury this summer, gathering what may be the strongest recruiting class in the team’s history.

Kampe recruited players from all over Michigan, Washington D.C. and Serbia. In expanding his scope outside of the Great Lakes state, Kampe believes that he has enough newcomers with qualifications to make Summit League opponents stand up and take notice.

“On paper, it’s their accomplishments that make them great. We’ve never had players with these types of credentials before,” Kampe said. “We also have a nice nucleus of young and experienced players, and a guy at every position.”

Kampe’s most recognizable recruit may also be his biggest, literally. Serbian center Ilija Milutinovic stands 7 feet tall, weighs 255 pounds and was heavily recruited by Oregon State before Kampe swooped in with an offer to play for the Golden Grizzlies.

“One of my assistants was told about [Milutinovic]. He spent time coaching in Serbia and gained contacts over there,” Kampe said. “He is very skilled and is a good rebounder.”  

Milutinovic made a name for himself in the National Christian Athletic Association varsity division championship game, where he obtained 14 points and 22 rebounds. Milutinovic also competed in the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Germany as a member of Serbia and Montenegro’s national team, helping lead them to a third-place finish with a 17 point, eight rebound average.

Milutinovic appears to immediately fill the need for a backup center after the graduation of Pat McCloskey. However, Kampe said that he and the rest of his class would play themselves into roles as the season went on.

Another notable player is Washington D.C. native Matt Samuels. The 6-foot point guard averaged 22 points and five assists per game as a senior at Coastal Christian Academy in Virginia Beach, Va. Like Milutinovic, Samuels had several suitors.

At one point, he had signed a letter of intent to play at Wyoming but a coaching change made him reconsider. Samuels hopes to assist current point guard Jonathon Jones in the Grizzlies’ back court.

Rounding out the Grizzlies’ summer is the addition of 6-foot-2-inch, 172 pound guard Larry Wright. Wright, an incoming junior from Saginaw, transferred from St. John’s where he ranked third on the team in scoring last season. Wright started in 10 out of the 29 games he played for the Red Storm last season, averaging 9.1 points per game and shooting 40 percent from three-point range.

While Wright won’t be eligible to play until the 2009-2010 season due to the conditions of his transfer, he should help out the Grizzlies’ bench considerably as a three-point bomber when he is eligible.

These three players join incoming freshmen Blake Cushingberry, Johnny Thames and Drew Maynard to comprise the 2008 OU men’s basketball recruiting class. The previously recruited incoming freshmen, who joined together to sign letters of intent on Nov. 21, 2007, ranked in the Top-10 of Bankhoops.com’s basketball recruiting rankings for the state of Michigan.

Maynard, a 6-foot-7 forward from Lake Onion, is a three-time selection for all-state, all-county, all-area and Oakland County Dream team.

He was described by Kampe in a January 2008 issue of the Oakland Post as “a Pat McCloskey that can shoot better.”

Cushingberry, a 6-foot-4 guard, led his Romeo Bulldogs to three consecutive MAC Red championships and two straight district championships.

“He’s a kid that we think has a chance to be one of the best players in the Summit League before he’s done,” said Kampe of Cushingberry. “He is strong and physical and with a body like that can go deep and shoot it.”

Thames, a 6-foot-9 forward from Port Huron Northern, reached all-state level as a junior and a senior and was named team MVP on two consecutive occasions.