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Beschta Announces 10 Newcomers for 2015-16 Campaign

SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. -- Returning only four players from a team that finished 16-15 last season, second-year head men's basketball bench boss Jason Beschta announced this morning the signing of ten incoming student-athletes for the 2015-16 campaign at John Brown.

JBU basketball coach BeschtaBeschta coaches his players during a timeout (file photo)Consisting of six freshman and four transfers, Beschta has compiled a list of players from six different states and provinces reaching from the Canadian province of Ontario down to the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The seven guards and three forwards ready to make their debut as a Golden Eagle include Josh Bowling (Detroit, Mich.), Jake Caudle (Bentonville, Ark.), Austin Fox (Springdale, Ark.), Brandon Joseph (Humble, Texas), Miguel Martinez (Chihuahua, Mexico), Luke Moyer (Souderton, Pa.), Joshua Rhodius (Brampton, Ont.), Ricky Roberts (Dallas, Texas), Benjamin Smith (Bentonville, Ark.) and Marquis Waller (Cleveland, Texas). The class averages just over 6-foot-3 in height.

Despite finishing short of the 20-win plateau last season for the first time in 2007, John Brown raced out to a 10-1 start before tackling the always-daunting Sooner Athletic Conference schedule. Additionally, the Golden Eagles faced a pair of perrenial powerhouse programs in Lindsey WIlson (Ky.) and Campbellsville (Ky.) in a late-December tournament in Little Rock. Overall, JBU posted an 8-10 mark in conference play and a 4-7 mark against top-25 opponents. Then-No. 13 Wayland Baptist (Texas) ousted John Brown in the quarterfinals of the SAC tournament on March 5 by an 80-61 final.

"Overall, we couldn’t be happier with this recruiting class," said Beschta. "We have a great combination of freshmen and transfers who will all be fighting for valuable minutes. We will have a much deeper team this year and, we believe, a more talented one overall. Even more than that, we are excited about the caliber of young men we have coming in. Combined with our returners, we have a group that will represent JBU well and uphold the standard of excellence that is synonymous with John Brown University."

Josh Bowling will join the Golden Eagles after a redshirt freshman season at Arkansas State where the Benton, Ark., native spent the 2014-15 season. While at Benton High School, Bowling picked up All-State All-6A South Conference selections in three consecutive years while leading the Panthers to a pair of conference titles. With the two-time All-State Tournament's help, Benton compiled a 50-10 mark over his junior and senior seasons where he averaged 18.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per outing under head coach Dwaine Fishburn. At the end of his senior campaign, the 6-foot-6 forward was named the Most Valuable Player at the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star basketball game.

"Josh is coming to us with a valuable year of experience under his belt at Arkansas State," noted Beschta. "Battling day after day with the caliber of players he faced has helped to prepare him to come right in and make an impact for us. Josh is the type of forward that we really like with a combination of size and skill that allow him to be effective in numerous spots on the floor. He has some great basketball ahead of him, and we’re excited to watch his development over the next four years."

Jake Caudle makes his way to JBU after a two-year stint on the Bentonville High School team that made appearances in back-to-back Arkansas Activities Association 6A state semifinals. Under head coach Jason McMahan, the 6-foot-1 guard helped the Tigers to a pair of 7A/6A-West conference titles. In his senior season, Caudle's 13 points per game helped vault him to All-Conference and All-State honors in addition to a slot on the KURM Dream Team.

"Jake is athletic and physically ready to compete at our level," added Beschta. "He has a work ethic that is second to none and has a lot of good basketball in front of him over the next four years."

After a season at Oklahoma Wesleyan, Austin Fox will join the Golden Eagles as a sophomore in 2015-16. At OKWU, Fox averaged 4.6 points and 1.2 assists per game, making 27 appearances on the season. Prior to his stop in Bartlesville, Okla., Fox prepped for three years at Har-Ber High School in Springdale, Ark. There, the 6-foot-2 guard landed Honorable Mention All-Conference accolades under head coach Scott Bowlin.

"Austin is a crafty guard with the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands and really shoot the ball from deep," Beschta said. "Austin will push to make us better and add even more depth to our guard spots."

Hailing from Humble, Texas, guard Brandon Joseph will begin his John Brown career after leading Humble High School to a historic 31-5 season as a senior. The 5-foot-11 guard helped the Wildcats to three district crowns during his tenure, including a run to the third round of the UIL 5A State Championships. In the second round against Ridge Point High School, Joseph scored 15 of his team's 22 fourth-quarter points, finishing with 25, en route to a 62-61 victory. Nabbing back-to-back All-Area honors as a junior and senior, Joseph also garnered a spot on the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' 5A-3 All-Region team. After leading his team in scoring for two seasons, he was named the District 21-5A Offensive Player of the Year.

"What struck me from the beginning about Brandon is that he is such a fierce competitor," admitted Beschta. "He had a strong drive to excel, coupled with a work ethic to make it happen. Brandon has the ability to playmake for himself and his teammates, and he is a tough defender. We expect Brandon to come in ready to contribute."

Miguel Martinez joins the Golden Eagles after a pair of stops in his collegiate career. Most recently, the 6-foot-7 forward suited up for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M at the junior college level. There, Martinez helped the Golden Norsemen to a 20-11 season and an appearance in the second round of the Region II tournament. A year prior, he played a season for Union (Tenn.) under head coach David Niven. With the Bulldogs, Martinez appeared in 28 games, averaging 2.9 points and 3.5 rebounds a contest while shooting 38-of-74 from the field (51.4 percent). Martinez graduated from the Impact Basketball Academy in Sarasota, Fla., and earned All-State honors in 2011 after spending a trio of seasons back in Mexico attending Monterrey Tech.

"Miguel is another big addition for us for next year," added Beschta. "He has played at a high level already and been successful during his time, especially at Union. Following in the footsteps on All-American Max Hopfgartner, Miguel will also prove to be a difficult matchup for opposing posts with his ability to score inside and out, rebound the ball and run the floor like a guard. We expect Miguel to be a presence in this league right away."

Like Martinez, John Brown is the third stop for 6-foot-1 transfer guard Luke Moyer. Moyer began his collegiate career with NCAA I University of Richmond before spending the last two seasons with NCAA I Campbell University (N.C.). At Richmond, Moyer appeared in four games in his freshman season, with the Spiders. However, at Campbell, Moyer sprang into a major contributor for the Camels. As a sophomore, he played in 29 games and shot 45.9 percent from the floor (56-of-122) and dished out 33 assists on the season. Moyer also finished at No. 9 in the nation in three-point shooting, dropping 44-of-90 attempts from long range (48.9 percent). He followed that up with a junior season where he saw action in 19 games. Moyer prepped at Souderton Area High School for four years under Dennis Stanton where he averaged 15 points and 3.5 assists per game as a senior and shot 52 percent from long range and 83 percent from the line. Moyer was named first-team Suburban One Conference and first-team All-Intell. He was also crowned as the Philadelphia Daily News' Southeastern Pennsylvania top scorer and three-point leader.

"We have a big void to fill at the point guard spot after Samson Olayemi graduated," Beschta admitted. "Luke provides us with an immediate impact having already been a successful college player. Luke is great with the ball in his hands, an intelligent player, a phenomenal shooter and he has the leadership qualities we are in need of from a senior."

Canadian Joshua Rhodius will begin play with JBU this season after redshirting last year under Beschta. The 6-foot-2 guard graduated in 2014 from Veritas Christian Academy in Arden, N.C., where he was named the Warriors' Most Valuable Player in his senior year of competition for head coach David Rector. Before that, Rhodius spent four years playing for the varsity team of St. Edmund Campion in Brampton, Ontario. Under head coaches Omar Miles and Trip Cogburn, Rhodius helped the Bears win a conference title in his freshman season.

"Joshua is coming off of a great year for us as a redshirt freshman," Beschta said. "He has a college-ready body and is incredibly versatile. We played him at four positions in practices last year, and Josh had the ability to make us better no matter which one he was playing. We are excited at what he will bring to our team this year."

Ricky Roberts, from Dallas, Texas, makes his way to Siloam Springs after a pair of junior college stops for Allen County (Kan.) and Panola (Texas). While at Panola, Roberts averaged 9.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game and shot 47 percent from the floor (95-of-202), while garnering Academic All-Region honors. While with Allen County, the 6-foot-3 guard started 19 of 29 games he played in and averaged 5.1 points and 1.9 assists a contest. Roberts spent four seasons at North Richland Hills High School under head coach Richard Bacon and averaged 14.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game as a senior.

"Ricky is a strong and athletic guard with a very good skill set," admitted Beschta. "Ricky has proven himself to be both a great scorer and playmaker, as well as a lock-down defender. He brings with him experience and maturity, and he will have a chance to make an immediate impact for us at a guard spot."

Another local Northwest Arkansas product, Benjamin Smith, will don the Blue and Gold next season after an incredibly successful high school career at Bentonville High School. The 6-foot-8 forward played three seasons for head coach Jason McMahan and helped guide the Tigers to a trio of deep 7A Arkansas Activities Association state tournament runs. The Tigers made state semifinal appearances in both his sophomore and junior seasons before falling to North Little Rock High School in the state title game of his senior campaign. In the championship game, Smith buried four first-half triples and finished the game with 22 points. As a senior, Smith helped Bentonville to a 21-6 record and was named 7A/6A-West All-Conference as well as landing a spot on the KURM Dream Team. He also holds the program record in most blocks in a single game.

"It was very exciting when Ben to committed to JBU," Beschta noted. "He had such a tremendous senior year at Bentonville, and we had the opportunity to watch him play several times this season. He just continues to get better and better and with his size and mobility together, along with his effort level and ability to shoot the ball, Ben is going to be difficult for opponents to matchup with. I believe he will be a special player here at JBU."

A one-year product of Prime Prep Academy in Dallas, Texas, Marquis Waller joins JBU after leading Prime Prep to a Texas Christian Athletic League 4A state title as senior for head coach Ray Forsett. For three years prior, Waller attended and played for Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Texas, where he was named to the District 22-3A first team as a junior. As a member of the Indians, the 6-foot-4 guard played under head coach Roderick Broussard.

"Marquis was such a good pick up for us at the guard spot," noted Beschta. "He can do a little bit of everything for us from shooting to slashing to rebounding to defending. He is strong and explosive, and you can expect him to make some spectacular plays for us. He has a chance to be a great college basketball player over the next four years and we believe he is going to make us better right away and compete for big minutes as a freshman."

The Golden Eagles open the 2015-16 campaign with the 35th Annual Toilet Paper Game, scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip on Oct. 31 against NCCAA opponent Barclay (Kan.).