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Campus News

July 4th, 2023

Laker hoop grads 'bat a thousand'

All four GC men's basketball graduates moving to next level


AJ Crosby


Kamau Mitchell


Kory Mitchum


Nyrek Wheeler

The phrase "batting a thousand" is generally associated with baseball. In this case, however, it perfectly describes the graduating cohort of Garrett College men's basketball players.

All four of this year's graduating sophomores will be transferring to four-year universities to continue their academic and athletic careers. Nyrek Wheeler, AJ Crosby, and Kamau Mitchell are all moving on to Virginia State University. Korey Mitchum will be attending Waynesburg University.

"I think that placing players at four-year schools is what being a JUCO head coach is all about," said GC head coach Matt McCullough. "For all four to get the types of opportunities they are getting speaks volumes about the program and these young men."

Wheeler scored 13.3 points per game and blocked 1.3 shots per contest while leading the Lakers in rebounding (10.8) and assists (4.0) per game.

"Nyrek is a guy who checks off all of the boxes coaches look for, on and off the court," said McCullough. " He impacted the game in so many ways for us, and his energy and motor were infectious. Virginia State will be getting a guy who is going to bring it every single time he steps on the court."

McCullough said Wheeler is "one of the best overall players I have ever coached, and I look forward to following him next year."

"It's a nice atmosphere," Wheeler said of the Virginia State campus. "Everyone is friendly and the athletic facilities are great. I also feel the coaches there can further develop me both as a player and as a man.

"The crazy thing is that there are some players there already that I played against in high school and at my other junior college in Alabama," added Wheeler, who is from Danville, VA. "Then with Kamau and AJ also going to Virginia State, there should be a lot of good chemistry."

Crosby (Woodbridge, VA) scored 12.1 points and hauled in 8.8 rebounds while blocking a team-high 1.6 shots per contest.

"AJ improved so much in his time at Garrett, academically and athletically," said McCullough. "AJ went from being academically ineligible in the spring semester my first year coaching him to earning an all-conference academic award this past season."

Crosby said VSU "checked off everything that I was looking for in a school. It's close to home, has the major that I want, and can help get my game to the next level."

"AJ has elite athleticism, and his offensive game really came a long way this year," continued McCullough. "Virginia State is getting a guy who still has a lot of untapped potential. He is going to thrive at VSU."

Mitchell, a Thomas Stone High (Waldorf, MD) graduate who was the last recruit McCullough signed for the 2022-23 season, scored a team-high 20.2 points per contest.

"Kamau scores efficiently and aggressively at all three levels," said McCullough. "He was leading the conference in scoring prior to a knee injury in late November. Kamau is a highly talented player who has a game that translates very well to the next level."

McCullough said Virginia State, which went 16-11 last season, will provide the trio with impressive opportunities.

"Virginia State is a great university with tremendous athletic programs, facilities, and staff," said McCullough. "Virginia State plays in the CIAA [Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association] and is one of the top Division II schools in the country."

McCullough said VSU head coach Lonnie Blow, the 2016 CIAA Coach of the Year, "does a great job leading the VSU program."

"He's praised by everyone who I've spoken to who knows him," said McCullough. "Virginia State competes for conference titles and national tournament berths year in and year out."

McCullough said the trio's signing is strong evidence of how well GC prepares its student athletes in the classroom and on the court.

"I don't know how often a JuCo sends three players to the same university, especially to a powerhouse like Virginia State, but it can't be too often," said McCullough. "I think it speaks to the opportunity that Garrett College can provide athletes both on and off the court. The dedication of the employees, the support, the facilities, and resources are what makes it possible for these success stories to happen."

McCullough said Mitchum, a Southern Garrett High graduate who was second on the team in assists per game, "is going to have a very good career at Waynesburg because of his passion and work ethic."

"Korey is a great student of the game," said McCullough, himself a Southern Garrett High grad. "He's a leader, both vocal and by example, that people follow. We see a lot of things the same way because of our similar backgrounds. This proved very valuable to our team this year, and I think he will be able to bring a lot of that with him to Waynesburg."

Mitchum said Waynesburg's early and consistent interest in signing him played a key role in his decision to accept a full academic scholarship to go to Waynesburg.

"They [the Waynesburg coaching staff] came early in the process,'" said Mitchum. "They really communicated with me the entire time from that point on. It was just a genuine connection. There's also another Southern kid up there, Bryson Wilt, who is one of their top returning players."

Tim Fusina, who also serves as the Yellow Jackets' athletic director, is entering his sixth year as Waynesburg's head coach.

"I've known Tim for a number of years now," said McCullough. "He's building a really good program and Korey will fit in well. Waynesburg has attracted a number of local standouts, including DJ Ritchie [current GC assistant coach] and all-area guard Bryson Wilt, who I coached at Southern High and is entering his senior year at Waynesburg."