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McKay Inks Highly Anticipated Recruiting Class

November 15, 2007
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Ritchie McKay signs six recruits for the 2008-09 academic year.

Ritchie McKay signs six recruits for the 2008-09 academic year.

In his first recruiting class at Liberty, head men's basketball coach Ritchie McKay and staff have signed Seth Curry, Brolin Floyd, Sammy Jackson, Mike Lewis, Carter McMasters and Austin Smith to national letters of intent for the 2008-09 academic year.

"I can't remember ever having a class like the one we were able to attract our first year at Liberty," said McKay, who has been a head coach in the Pac-10, Mountain West, Western Athletic and Big Sky Conferences.

"Typically it takes a little bit of time to establish yourself in an unfamiliar region of the country," added McKay. "What Liberty University offers a student-athlete is really reflected in the caliber of the individual and the caliber of the player we were able to sign."

Curry is the son of one of the NBA's most prolific three-point shooters, Dell Curry. A 6-0 combo guard from Charlotte, N.C., Curry has been a huge piece to Charlotte Christian's success over the past few years. As a junior, Curry averaged 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game for a team that had four starters in double figures in scoring. Last season, Curry shot 50 percent from the field, earning CISAA all-conference honors. In his three years on the varsity squad, Charlotte Christian has amassed an 83-15 record, reaching the state final in 2006.

"Seth is a great kid and will make a great impact at Liberty as a freshman under the leadership and guidance of Coach McKay," stated Charlotte Christian head coach Shonn Brown. "Liberty is getting someone special."

Curry chose Liberty over his father's alma mater, Virginia Tech, and Davidson, where his older brother Stephen currently is playing, earning an All-American honors.

"I would have recruited Seth at any level," said McKay. "He is a versatile guard who has a tremendous future ahead of him. Without question, he will make an immediate impact on our team and program."

Floyd hails from Ocala, Fla., and plays for Shores Christian School. As a junior, the 6-5, 210- pound guard, averaged 17.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.2 steals, leading Shores Christian to the NACA National Championship game.

Floyd, a McDonald's All-America nominee, was MVP of his AAU Florida Elite team, while also playing for Nike Team Florida during the summer of 2007. In the summer of 2006, Floyd was the MVP of Running Rattlers AAU squad, which won the State Championship.

"I am excited about him going to Liberty," said Shores Christian head coach Danny Smith. "He loves the family atmosphere at Liberty and he loves the relationship he has developed with Coach McKay."

Floyd chose the Flames over Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Western Kentucky, among others.

"When you talk about finding a diamond in the rough, you can put a picture next to Brolin's name," stated McKay. "Dale Layer came across Brolin out of obscurity in talent laden Central Florida.

"I can't tell you how excited I am that Brolin will be in a Liberty Flames uniform. He has a great body, size, strength and athleticism and a desire to be great. Along with a few other freshmen, I anticipate Brolin to have a major immediate impact on our team and program."

Jackson is a 6-5 forward out of Jacksonville Junior College in Jacksonville, Texas. The Arlington, Texas native is currently playing his second year of junior college ball, after prepping at Bowie High School.

As a freshman last season, Jackson averaged 9.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 52 percent from the floor and 53 percent from three-point range. Starting 27 games for Jacksonville, Jackson earned honorable mention all-region honors. Through the first five game of this season, Jackson is averaging 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

"Sammy is a tremendous young man with high character and work ethic," said Jacksonville Junior College head coach Greg Young. "He is competitive, tough and I enjoy being around him. Liberty is a great fit for Sammy and both he and his family are excited about the blessing of playing for Coach McKay and his staff."

"Sammy is an undersized forward who has the skill of a guard, but the toughness of a center, creating one of those match-up nightmares," said McKay. "Sammy is the only JC player we recruited, because we wanted to build our program with youth. But we could not pass up on his maturity, leadership ability and the uniqueness in regards to his attributes. We expect him to make an immediate contribution."

Lewis signs with the Flames out of Charis Prep in Goldsboro, N.C., the same prep school Where Liberty's Armon Jones spent the 2006 season. Lewis, a 5-7 guard from Upper Marlboro, Md., was a four-year starter at Suitland, averaging 18.4 points, 7.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game as a senior. Lewis led Suitland to a 22-5 record as a senior, falling in the regional championship game to Eleanor Roosevelt, 55-53.

Last season at Charis Prep, Lewis averaged 14.0 points per game, while his assist to turnover ratio was 3-1.

"I am very pleased Mike is going to continue his academic endeavors at Liberty and his athletic career under Coach McKay," said Charis Prep head coach Carlos Peralta. "I know Mike will benefit greatly from both. Mike is a very good point guard and he will have a great career at Liberty, helping continue its success on the court."

"Mike reminds of one those spark plugs on the court," said McKay. "I couldn't pass up on him. Mike is tough, has the ability to shoot, find open guys and stretch the defense. Mike will become a fan favorite, because his perceived size limitation will be overcome by the size of his heart and abilities."
McMasters hails from Chattanooga, Tenn., where he will be a 2008 graduate of Grace Academy. The 6-11 forward averaged 14.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game as a junior at Grace, helping his team to the regional finals. McMasters is also a McDonalds All-American nominee. The all-state honoree alters the game, evident by his 20 shots redirected last season.

"Carter alters the game," said Grace Academy head coach Jon Mattheiss. "Teams would stop shooting around him. Liberty has themselves a high-quality player, one who will be even better at the collegiate level than he has in high school."

McMasters picked Liberty over Auburn, Chattanooga, Clemson, Kentucky, Michigan, Purdue, Virginia and Virginia Tech, among other programs.

"When we first got to Liberty, we were told by many that you couldn't shoot for the stars," said McKay. "We felt with our system and the immediate need at Carter's position, we would hit a home run by signing him. Carter is a tremendous offensively skilled player with great passing ability, who can stretch a defense. He is a good shot blocker with great timing. We are elated to have someone of his caliber be a part of our family, as we help carry this program forward and establish a tradition."

Smith, a 6-9 forward from Tucson, Ariz., transferred to Ironwood Ridge from Mountain View. While at Mountain View as junior, Smith averaged 11.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

Smith picked Liberty after being pursued by Pepperdine, Richmond, San Francisco and Washington State.

"I have known Austin for a few years and I really trust him," said McKay. "He has natural ability and athleticism that our fans will really like. He is skilled, can shoot the ball, has a great work ethic and the fact we can attract Austin from Tucson to Lynchburg, speaks to Liberty University and all it has to offer."

"In all my years of coaching, God's sovereignty allowed us to get student-athletes to help our program advance, but also allowed us to help develop these individuals as students, players and men," commented McKay.