Cronin: "Best Class Ever"

CINCINNATI – The University of Cincinnati men's basketball team signed four players to national letters of intent for the 2011-12 season, head coach Mick Cronin announced today (Nov. 11). Joining the Bearcats will be Shaquille Thomas (Paterson, N.J./NIA Prep School), Jermaine Sanders (Far Rockaway, N.Y./Rice), Octavius Ellis (Memphis, Tenn./Whitehaven), and Ge'Lawn Guyn (Georgetown, Ky./Scott County).

"This is the best class we have signed in the early period to date and we are not done," said Cronin. "My staff has worked together as a team to recruit these young men and I am as excited as I have ever been as a head coach about the future of this program.  We have great young players and have just added four more to the group."

Thomas, a 6-foot-7, 195-pound wing with long arms and explosive athleticism, is one of the nation's top players coming out of school this according to Ranked the No. 92 player in the country, he spent last year at NIA Prep in Newark, N.J., where he averaged 28 points and eight assists a game. Thomas, who participated in the 2009 NBA Top 100 Camp, has his own ties to professional basketball as his uncle is long-time NBA veteran Tim Thomas and his sister is Essence Carson, a forward/guard for the WNBA's New York Liberty.

Sanders is the second Bearcats recruit to come out of the Empire State, hailing from Far Rockaway Queens. Sanders played his high school basketball at Rice, the same high school as former UC basketball star Kenny Satterfield. A 6-foot-5 left-handed wing, Sanders is considered one of the Top 50 players at his position by several publications.

A 6-foot-8, 190-pound forward from Memphis, Tenn., Ellis averaged 16.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 2.1 assists at Whitehaven High School last season. Ellis is a preseason all-conference selection who is an athletic big man with a 7-foot-2 wingspan.

The fourth player to sign with Cincinnati is Guyn who is from nearby Georgetown, Ky. A 6-foot-3, 175-pound point guard, Guyn is spending the upcoming season at South Kent School after a high school career at Scott County High School in Georgetown where he was a two-time all-state selection. Guyn led the Cardinals to the semifinals of the Kentucky Sweet 16 as a senior averaging 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game.

Cronin's Comments on the Class of 2011-12:

Jermaine Sanders

"Jermaine Sanders is the guy we had to get.  He can do it all as a player but most importantly he does it as a teammate.  Jermaine can score in bunches, yet he is a great passer.  He has a gift of feel for the game that cannot be taught, and that makes him special.  'Maine' is also a Rice Raider, home of Kenny Satterfield and many other great players that won big in high school as part of one of the great basketball programs at any level.  Jermaine also led his New Heights AAU team to many championships, he is a big time get for Cincinnati basketball."

Shaquille Thomas

"Shaq Thomas has unbelievable upside as a basketball player.  At 6-foot-8, he has the ball-handling skills of a guard as well as shooting ability from the perimeter.  Shaq is one of the best athletes in the country who can jump out of the gym.  He has to develop his strength and conditioning, and we have the best strength coach in the country for that in Dave Andrews.  Shaq is just a tremendous talent and we are very excited he is a Bearcat."

Octavius Ellis

"Octavius Ellis is a skilled big man.  He can shoot, handle and pass and he is not done growing.  He and Shaq have great upside as players with skill and athleticism.   'Te' can also rebound and block shots and is a very competitive young man with a desire to improve and be great.  I love his potential as a basketball player as he has size and skill which are hard to find."

Ge'Lawn Guyn

"Gee is a competitor flat out.  In recruiting you find every now and then a player that you believe in as a coach that is going to personify winning and for me that is Gee.  He is a tough guard with great speed with the ball, but his work ethic is his biggest asset.  Gee is a true Bearcats basketball player as he just outworks his opponent each and every day.  Gee can play and he is already the leader of one of the best prep teams in the country at South Kent."