Canisius College men's basketball coach Tom Parrotta announced today that a total of seven players have agreed to join the Golden Griffins men's basketball program. Five of those individuals will be eligible for the 2011-12 season, while transfers Freddy Asprilla (Villavicencio, Columbia) and Isaac Sosa (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) will sit out next season in accordance with NCAA transfer regulations, and both student-athletes will have one year of eligibility, starting with the 2012-13 campaign.
The five members of the recruiting class that will be on the Blue and Gold's active roster next season include Jose Agosto (Gatlinburg, Tenn.), Kevin Bleeker (Alkmaar, Netherlands), Josiah Heath (Rochester, N.Y.), Franklin Milian (La Vega, Dominican Republic) and Harold Washington (Brandywine, Md.).
"I am excited about this class on a number of levels," Parrotta said. "This group builds on the solid foundation we've established at Canisius and the potential this group holds is extremely exciting. I think we've also addressed needs that are very important for success in this conference. Size, shooting and depth are some of the things we zeroed in on through this recruiting process and I think we've satisfied those areas."
Asprilla, who played in 16 games at Kansas State during the 2010-11 campaign, will sit out one year in accordance with NCAA transfer rules. The 6-foot-10, 280-pound center averaged 4.9 points and 4.9 rebounds for the Wildcats, while shooting 50 percent from the field to go with 10 assists, 17 blocked shots and seven steals. In 2008-09, he played in 23 games for Florida International, where he averaged 13.7 points per game and shot 53.2 percent from the field en route to being named the Sun Belt Conference Rookie of the Year. He was also named third-team All-Sun Belt Conference in his true freshman season after he posted 17.3 points and 11.4 rebounds per game for the Panthers in conference play.
Agosto is a 6-foot-6, 215-pound forward that helped lead the Gatlinburg-Pittman High School Highlanders to a 24-5 overall record last season and a No. 2 ranking in the Associated Press Tennessee High School basketball poll. He averaged 16 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in his senior campaign and closed out the year shooting 62 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point land and 79 percent from the free-throw line. Considered a tough rebounder at both ends of the floor, Agosto is strong and skilled on the block and can knock down the mid-range jump shot.
Bleeker is a 6-foot-10 center from Alkmaar, Netherlands that plays for BV Noordkop. A member of the Dutch Under-18 team, Bleeker recently took part in the 16th annual Holland Nordic Basketball Tournament April 22-25.
Heath joins the Golden Griffins after he averaged 21.7 points and 16.6 rebounds per game during his senior season at Irondequoit High School. The 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward was named the Greater Rochester Player of the Year by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle after he helped lead the Eagles to the school's first Section V championship in 66 years. In the sectional championship game against Greece-Athena High School, Heath scored 27 points and pulled down 27 rebounds to earn Section V MVP honors.
Milian led Our Savior New American School in scoring and rebounding last season after he posted 18 points and eight rebounds per game. A 6-foot-4 guard with a good handle and strong rebounding ability, Milian comes from the same high school program that produced current Canisius center Marial Dhal.
Sosa will join the Canisius program after playing the last three years at Central Florida. During the 2010-11 campaign, he played in 33 contests and ranked third on the roster with eight points per game, while ranking sixth in Conference USA play by hitting 39.2 percent of his attempts from behind the 3-point arc. A two-time Conference USA All-Academic Team honoree, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard leaves the Central Florida program with 190 career 3-point field goals, which ranks fourth in the school's record book.
Washington averaged 13 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game last season while shooting 49 percent from the field and 34 percent from behind the 3-point line at Cecil College in North East, Md. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard helped lead the Seahawks to a sixth-place finish at the NJCAA National Tournament in March after he was named a Junior College Division II First-Team All-American following the 2009-10 season.
"Realizing that we are losing a lot of experience, we've added some very talented transfer student-athletes," Parrotta said. "Asprilla and Sosa both have produced at high levels and will further deepen our roster when they become eligible in 2012-13. We are looking forward to working with all these new faces and getting them to compete at a high level. Although it has taken some time, we are now in a position to attract some very good talent to Canisius College."
Parrotta also announced that junior forward Rokas Gricius and freshman guard Ashton Khan will not return to the roster next season. Gricius played in 25 career games for the Griffs and holds the honor of being the first Lithuanian-born player in school history to score a point for the Blue and Gold. He will graduate from the College this spring and is currently pursuing his master's degree in sport administration at Canisius. Khan played in 15 games during his freshman campaign.
"Rokas is currently pursuing some opportunities presented to him in the professional work world, and I'm very proud of the effort he gave to this program, both on and off the court. Ashton and I mutually agreed that he should pursue other options. We're helping him in his search to find a school that will give him an opportunity to continue his education and play a more pivotal role on the court. I wish both of those guys nothing but the best as they move forward."