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Sanders and Baird Sign with Liberty

November 18, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Head coach Dale Layer has announced that John Caleb Sanders and Stephen Baird will join the 2010-11 roster.

Head coach Dale Layer has announced that John Caleb Sanders and Stephen Baird will join the 2010-11 roster.

Liberty Men's Basketball Head Coach Dale Layer has announced two additions to his team's 2010-11 roster. John Caleb Sanders and Stephen Baird have signed national letters of intent to attend Liberty University for the 2010-11 academic year.

"The signing of these two players is another very positive step in laying the foundation of our program, Layer said. "Both bring outstanding talent and character to Liberty Basketball and will be expected to contribute immediately. They are winners and come from great families. They will fit in well and very quickly."

John Caleb Sanders, G, 6-0, 170, Houston, Texas
Sanders is the younger brother of current Flames point guard Jesse Sanders. Much like Liberty's floor general, Sanders has spent his high school career in the Home School Christian Youth Association (HCYA), matching up with the top 5A and prep schools in the Houston area. Recently, he was honored as Preseason First Team All Greater Houston and is currently on pace to be the all-time leading scorer in HCYA Warrior history.

During his junior year, he was named to the All Greater Houston third team, averaging 28 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game and 4.7 assists per game. That season, he was also named MVP of the Victoria Memorial Tournament despite his team not winning the tourney.

In his freshman and sophomore campaigns, Sanders was one of the top Texas scorers within his class. The homeschooled guard, who was also recruited by Rice, Air Force, Alabama, and Oklahoma, is a three-time All-American and winner of the Maravich Award and the Sullivan Award for excellence, an honor given to one player each year.

"It seems like John Caleb has been part of our program for a while, since we have seen him play and have known him through Jesse for the past three years," Layer noted. "He is an outstanding scorer, with the ability to put the ball in the hole in multiple ways. He can play both guard positions and has the same toughness and competitiveness that Jesse has demonstrated over the past two seasons at Liberty."

"It has been a privilege and an honor to coach John Caleb," said Sander's father and HCYA head coach. "His career with the HCYA Warriors has been remarkable. His perseverance, excellence and creativity on the court have been recognized by those who know basketball. He has received multiple individual awards and has consistently played at a championship level as a member of many national championship teams."

"John Caleb was named MVP as a sophomore, and is one of the most complete and cerebral guards in the state," said Jim Hicks of RCS Sports. "He's added 12 pounds of muscle and was selected to the Preseason All Greater Houston team heading into the season."

Stephen Baird, F, 6-8, 190, San Antonio, Texas
Baird travelled three hours to play alongside Sanders as a member of the HCYA Warriors this season. Before making the move, he helped his AAU team finish second in nationals.

In his junior year at James Madison High School in San Antonio, he was instrumental in helping his team win the championship game at the McDonald's Invitational Tournament against Duncanville, the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. He also helped his team achieve a No. 5 national ranking by ESPN for four consecutive weeks, finishing the year with a 35-2 record. During his sophomore year at James Madison, he led his team to the final four of the Texas 5A public schools tournament.

Recently, Baird was tabbed by Tex Preps Basketball as one of the top players in the Lone Star State. He was also selected first team all-state, consistently leading his teams in rebounds, free throws and assists with numerous double-doubles. Baird was also recruited by teams around the state and nationwide including Texas, Texas A&M, Kentucky, TCU, SMU, Stanford, LSU, Utah and Marquette.

"Stephen is a face-up forward with an outstanding shooting touch," Layer noted, when asked about Baird's on-court abilities. "He has the size, speed and skills to play multiple positions. He was on the recruiting radar of programs across the country for four years and had lots of options. We are thrilled to have him part of our immediate and long-term plans."

"Stephen Baird is a great shooter," Martin Fox, the Adidas Grass Roots Director of Houston said. "When he goes to college and becomes a little stronger he will be a tough player to stop offensively."

Baird is long, strong, shoots well from either corner and can play three positions productively," Hicks said. "Consider this the "Texas two-step," and even better is the fact that no player can bring out the best in Sanders better than his older sibling, current Flames starter Jesse Sanders. The two have a unmatched work ethic, and guided HCYA to three consecutive national championships."