The Ferris State University men's basketball program has bolstered its 2008-09 lineup with the recent addition of four transfer players in an announcement made by seventh-year FSU head coach Bill Sall.
The four student-athletes, who all enrolled in classes prior to the start of the fall term, include forward Verdell Billingsley (Cleveland, Ohio/Lakewood), guard Josh Young (Ypsilanti), guard/forward Austin Randel (Lake City/McBain) and guard Jon Yeazel (Middleville/Thornapple-Kellogg).
The 6-6 Billingsley graduated in 2004 from Lakewood (Ohio) High School where he was an All-Lake Erie League First Team pick in addition to being an All-Northeast Ohio selection after averaging 15.3 points per game as a prep senior. As a sophomore last year at Owens Community College in Toledo, Billingsley averaged 11.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in 25 contests under head coach Kevin Skaggs. He previously played at Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College during the 2004-05 season. Owens CC finished last season with a 10-19 overall record as an Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) member. He was one of three Express players from last year to move onto the NCAA Division II level.
The Bulldogs' recent transfer additions include former Central Michigan guard Jon Yeazel (Photo Courtesy CMU)
"Verdell is coming off a good year at Owens and will provide us with a good interior presence," Sall said. "He's a versatile player and a good back to the basket option who has his best basketball ahead of him."
The 6-4 Randel, who played prep basketball at McBain High School, transferred to FSU from NCAA-II member North Greenville in Tigerville, S.C. Last season, Randel averaged a team-high 20.7 points while starting all 27 contests for the Crusaders. He sank 83 of 197 (.421) three-point attempts and shot 78.9% (105-133) at the free throw stripe in addition to averaging 5.6 rebounds a game as North Greenville compiled a 7-20 overall record. He was the team's leading scorer in all but five games last season and scored 30 points or more in four outings, including a 35-point effort in a 90-64 season finale (Feb. 27) home win over Carver Bible College. Randel scored in double-figures in all but three games in the 2007-08 season.
In his freshman season (2006-07) at North Greenville, Randel tallied 11.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest while helping the squad to a 16-13 overall record under head coach Chad Lister. The Lake City native averaged 24 points and seven rebounds per game as a prep senior in 2005-06 at McBain en route to leading the Ramblers to a 21-3 overall record and a district championship. Randel garnered all-state, all-region, all-conference and all-area awards as both a junior and a senior.
"Austin is a good outside shooter and improved parts of his game over the summer," said Sall. "He posted good numbers down at North Greenville and has added strength over the summer so we're looking for him to come in and play a significant role."
The 6-2 Young previously played at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek. He was a second team All-Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) Western Conference pick for the Bruins in 2006-07. Young, who prepped at Ypsilanti High School, helped Kellogg CC to the MCCAA Western Conference Championship two years ago. He earned Detroit News Class A Sixth Team all-state accolades in 2005.
"Josh is a good athlete who will help us defensively," Sall said. "He has the ability to get up and down the floor and is a versatile player who can play a couple of different spots."
The 6-2 Yeazel, who is expected to redshirt this season and have one year of eligibility remaining at FSU, played for NCAA Division I Central Michigan during both the 2005-06 and 2007-08 campaigns. He played in all 28 games and made two starts as a freshman in 2005-06, but did not see game action last season. He averaged 2.3 points and 1.2 rebounds in his initial season with the Chippewas, including two double-figure scoring efforts. Yeazel competed at Schoolcraft Community College the year between his two CMU stints (2006-07) and totaled 13.1 points along with 7.9 rebounds per contest.
Yeazel played prep basketball at Thornapple-Kellogg High School in Middleville and earned third team Class B All-State laurels from both the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News as well as honorable mention honors from the Associated Press. He was a second team Grand Rapids Press All-Area selection and ranked 21st in the state by the Free Press prior to his senior campaign. The three-time all-conference honoree averaged 19.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game as a prep senior.
"Jon is a strong player and a year of adjustment will really help him," said Sall. "He'll still be a critical part of our team this year as he pushes our other guys in practice and steps into a leadership role."
The Ferris men's basketball team posted a 10-19 overall record with nine freshmen in the program last campaign and return four starters along with eight letterwinners this season. Ferris previously advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament in both 2004-05 and 2005-06 after claiming back-to-back league titles in 2003-04 and 2004-05 under Sall's direction.