Hill adds 6-10 forward to next year's roster
By ZACH BOND
GREELEY – Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill wasn't quite done making additions to his roster, announcing Wednesday that Arizona prep player Jeremy Verhagen has signed an aid contract and will be joining the Bears next season as an incoming freshman.
"He's a guy that has a great understanding of where he's at and where he needs to be to be an impact player at this level," Hill said. "He's going to give us something we haven't had here at Northern Colorado when you talk about his combination of size, athleticism and skillset."
Verhagen possesses the rare combination of size and skill and will provide plenty of versatility down the road for the Bears. At 6-10, Verhagen led all Arizona high school players in blocks and rebounds, but also possesses an impressive array of athleticism and touch from outside.
The center played his high school basketball at Florence High School where he averaged 17.6 points and 14.8 rebounds per game during his senior season. He also displayed a propensity for protecting the rim by leading the state with 7.2 blocks per contest. His contributions helped lead Florence to a 28-7 record and a trip to the quarterfinals of the Division III Arizona State Tournament.
"Rebounding has always been my biggest stat as a coach," Hill said. "To get another guy in this program who likes to chase it, rebound outside his area is very exciting. Blocking shots hasn't ever been something we emphasize here, but he's obviously going to be a guy who brings that into the mix with his length, timing and feet on the defensive end. It's going to be fun for Bear fans to watch.
"He's what we would call sneaky athletic. He's kind of deceiving and that comes from his thin upper body, but his lower body he does have a good base to build on. That's what's pretty special for a guy his size is he does have the ability in his lower body to make plays. That's going to do nothing but get better once he gets going on our weight-training program. I think you're going to see the guy just skyrocket in terms of his growth in the next year to year-and-a-half."
It's rare indeed for a school in the Big Sky to get a player with the skillset and size of Verhagen and Hill sees some similarities between him and former Montana forward and All-Big Sky performer Derek Selvig.
"We haven't had anybody like him since I've been at Northern Colorado when you take in the 6-10 frame and his ability to stretch the floor by shooting the ball from outside," Hill said. "There have been some guys in the league – Derek Selvig at Montana. There are some similarities, although I think Derek's body was ahead of Jeremy's, even as a freshman.
"Jeremy is a guy who is willing to do what's necessary for him to have an impact at this level. He knows there needs to be a lot of work done before that happens. His willingness to do that and take the time, not try to cheat the process, is very exciting."
As a junior, Verhagen averaged 17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game. He helped Florence to a 22-10 record and an appearance in the second round of the Division III Arizona State Tournament.
Verhagen will join Casper College transfers Corey Spence and Dominique Lee and Los Angeles prep player Jordan Wilson as the four new faces on next year's roster.