6-5 British product adds to Blazers versatilty
Versatility has become a big thing in basketball. To play one position well is coveted, but if a player can line up at two or three spots, creating mismatches because of size or quickness advantages, that's even better.
Defending NJCAA champion Vincennes University has focused on that trait in its 2019 recruiting class and added to it Friday with the signing of 6-5 Milo Sigmund-Gordon.
Sigmund-Gordon, from Nottingham, England, is rated the 11th-best, under-19 player in England by Hoops Rank. The 200-pound lefty showed an all-around game for Canterbury High School, averaging 17.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.3 blocks this past season.
He was selected the Most Improved Player in the Elite Academy Basketball League, the premier league for U-19 competition in the United Kingdom. Sigmund-Gordon was invited to former NBA player Luol Deng's camp last summer, which takes the top 50 players from England. He made the all-star game, which picked the top 20 players from camp, and received the attitude award for his hustle, effort and competitiveness.
"Milo checks all the boxes. We're excited about him and think he can be a good player for us," Trailblazers coach Todd Franklin said. "A lot of the characteristic traits that he has are ones that we value. We watched a ton of film on Milo, and everything we watched we liked. Everybody we talked to about Milo loved his game and the way he played. We never heard a (negative) word about him.
"He's exploded the last couple of years over there and rocketed up the rankings," he said. "He looks like a guy from Central Casting for what we're wanting."
Gordon is the third wing player in VU's recruiting class that has grown to five, joining 6-5 Christian Wells and 6-6 John Ukomadu. Franklin said those three, along with 6-6 returning starter Kevin Osawe, have the ability to play more than one position.
"Milo definitely has wing skills, but he also has post skills too. He's skilled enough to play (at off guard) and has handled the ball a lot. His 3-point shot is a little funky, but he makes his share of them," Franklin said. "Milo has a toughness about him. He plays hard, is physical and is a team energy kind of guy.
"We feel like now we have four guys who can legitimately plays two positions, go back and forth between a '3' and a '4'. It looks good on paper, but three of those are brand new guys too," he said.
When VU captured last year's tournament, it went with a true power forward, 6-5 George Dixon. He played just one position and did it well, often creating second chances for his team with terrific offensive rebounding.
But Franklin noticed Dixon didn't have a player similar to him to guard at the NJCAA Finals.
"George wasn't matched up with a power guy very often, he was having to match up with a smaller guy a lot of the time," Franklin said. "We're still wanting to pound it inside, but we hope to do it with multiple guys. Being a little smaller, you need multiple guys because you can be prone to picking up fouls battling for position.
"But we want to make it hard for guys to figure out how to go against us."
The three wing players join the most-recent signee prior to Sigmund-Gordon in 6-7 post-player Matija Ilic and 6-0 point-guard Patrick Fisher. Two spots remain, and Franklin said he wanted another post player. Generally those are the players who are toughest to find, and the coach said he didn't want to push it just to sign one.
"Right now we have a good group, a group I think we can win with," Franklin said. "I'd like to add a couple more good pieces. I'd like to get a big body, but if a couple of can't-miss guards come along, I don't think we're going to pass on that either."