Justine Gaskamp, Sports Information Director
GOODWELL – Head Men’s Basketball Coach Aaron Coombs has let no grass grow beneath his feet since arriving at Panhandle State in mid-April. Jumping right into recruit mode, Coombs has added six new names to the Aggie roster and is still hot on the trail.
Coombs proclaimed, “In our second year at the NAIA level, our expectations could not be higher. With major improvements to our locker room and Anchor D Arena, OPSU men’s basketball now has some of the best facilities in the Sooner Athletic Conference, which definitely aids in the recruiting of top-quality athletes.”
The Aggie men look to return a number of talented veterans including All-SAC athlete Jaedon Whitfield, and last year’s freshman standout DK Sumo. In addition to the solid foundation and leadership that returners will offer, Coombs is proud to announce six new signees that he feels will bring some much-needed athleticism and length to the program. Five transfers and one freshmen comprise the list of incoming Aggies.
Senior guard Alan Hodge from Mesquite, Texas transfers in from NCAA Division II’s University of Minnesota Crookston, where he averaged 15 points per game and averaged over 40 percent shooting from the field. Coombs offers this of the 6’2 signee, “Alan is a tremendous get for Panhandle State Basketball. His ability to score the basketball is something that will be a welcomed site to our program. Alan is a first-class young man who will bring a high level of leadership and character. I have very high expectations for him as a person and a player.”
Brieman Alexander is another senior entering at the guard position from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. A native of Oklahoma City, the 5’10 athlete tallied over 1,500 points during his three-year career at OWU. Coach Coombs is eager to see what this prolific scorer will bring to the team, “He can shoot from anywhere. Breiman will bring a lot of firepower, speed and competitiveness to our program.”
Two juniors will offer added experience as point guard Khallid Edwards (5’9) and guard/forward Jake Murdock (6’4) are both well-coached, excellent competitors. Edwards hails from Des Moines, Iowa and transfers in from Southwestern Community College (IA). Coach Coombs speaks of his first recruit stating, “Khallid is a winner and a leader, and will be the engine that makes the team go. He can flat-out shoot the basketball from anywhere on the floor and does an exceptional job getting in the paint and creating opportunities for himself and his teammates. Our campus and community are going to fall in love with Khallid Edwards.”
Murdock comes to Panhandle State from Sand Hills Community College in North Carolina. Originally from Fuquay-Varina, N.C., Coombs describes Murdock as a “high-level shooter.” “Jake excels at catching and shooting and can fill it up in a hurry. He will bring some much-needed toughness to our program.”
Coach Coombs’ recruiting reach crossed the proverbial Pond, as they say, in discovering sophomore forward Laimis Gruzdys from London, England. The 6’8 wing player joins the Aggie Crew after a stint in Canada at Crandall University. “Laimis is a very long wing who can shoot the basketball. He is still growing and developing his body, but what he is capable of doing right now brings a smile to my face,” Coombs comments. “He is tough, energetic and wants to be coached hard. He is always finding a way to get in the gym and continue to improve his game. Laimis has a bright future with the Aggies.”
The first freshman to grace the roster is an in-state athlete from Weatherford High School. Garret Hoffman is a 6’3 guard that Coombs feels really has a chance to come in and start producing early on. “Garret is an incoming freshman with a high basketball IQ. He is a high-level shooter, whose toughness and willingness to be coached will make him and extremely valuable addition to our program.”
With the team motto of “Protect the P [logo]” and an amalgamation of veteran experience and fresh talent, Coach Coombs hopes to impart a mindset in both players and fans alike of making Goodwell, Oklahoma “the hardest place to play in the league.”