Mario Stramaglia was sold on East Tennessee State before his senior season of high school basketball even began. He was glad to sign early.
The 6-foot-1 shooting guard from Birmingham, Ala., is now on campus for the second session of summer school, and so far he’s liking everything about ETSU basketball.
“The relationship has been pretty awesome,” Stramaglia said Wednesday after a conditioning workout in the Dome. “I got off to a good start with coach (Thomas) Johnson and coach (Murry) Bartow. When I visited, I loved the campus and the city. Now that I’m here, I’m around a great group of guys. It’s just a really nice environment.”
Stramaglia has been joined by another Alabama freshman, point guard Petey McClain of Mobile. McClain also signed early with the Bucs; they were the only recruits who did.
Stramaglia says it’s been good to have a familiar face around.
“We played a few games together in AAU our sophomore year, and we played a few against each other after that,” said Stramaglia. “We’ve been friends. It’s nice to have him here.”
Stramaglia, who was a fine perimeter shooter at Mountain Brook High School, has shown himself to be strong at 180 pounds and pretty explosive around the basket in early workouts at ETSU. Like most freshmen, he’s trying to get a handle on the college game.
“Faster, bigger, stronger,” he said. “Everyone is just as good an athlete as you. I’ve learned you have to work hard every day in everything you do — listening, sleeping, eating, conditioning. It’s a different game.”
If you want to see some of the old Bucs on the floor together again, you might have a chance this fall. A “Classic Game” is currently being organized for Oct. 20 at Carver Recreation Center.
According to a press release by bonafideevents.com, players who have already committed to play include Marty Story, Major Geer, Alvin West, Darrell Jones, Eric Palmer, Trazel Silvers, Robert Doggett, Loren Riddick, Justin McClellan, Damien Hodge, Tim Smith, Michael Woods, Yvette Grainger, Trennille McClellan and Jessica Lonon. Celebrity coaches will be Mister Jennings and DeShawne Blocker.
Shooting competitions from the 3-point arc and halfcourt will be part of the festivities, along with an autograph/photo session with players and coaches.
For more information, contact Karla Woods-Stephens at email@example.com or 480-619-9276.
Ed DeChellis seems to be working on seven-year plans.
He guided ETSU to the NCAA basketball tournament in his seventh season as coach, and he did the same thing at Penn State. He left both schools soon thereafter.
Now preparing for his second season at the Naval Academy, DeChellis faces his biggest challenge yet. Seven years may not be enough to get the Midshipmen into the postseason.
DeChellis’s first team at Navy went 3-26, and there won’t be a lot of new faces in uniform this fall.
“We were horrible last year, but we knew it was going to be bad,” DeChellis said Monday from Annapolis, Md. “We only had one senior, and we have no seniors this year. It’s just an interesting lack of class structure. They lost 11 guys in a two-year period, which is why we only had one senior.
“It’s not like you can just go get a juco and plug him into the program.”
The coach knew, of course, that outstanding basketball players generally don’t flock to the service academies. Outstanding young men do.
“Once you get kids here on campus and they see how beautiful the place is and you explain what it’s all about, the interest grows for a lot of them,” said DeChellis. “If you stay four years here, you’re going to be set for life. But early on, it’s sink or swim. This is the cream of the crop academically.”
DeChellis, 53, is working on a five-year contract.
Clinton Freeman is enjoying quite a summer of baseball in Alaska.
Playing for the Matsu Miners, ETSU’s junior first baseman leads the Alaska Baseball League in hits (47) and doubles (13), and he’s third in batting average (.385). He has hit safely in 27 of the Miners’ 32 games.
The season ends July 31.
Freeman, a David Crockett product, hit a team-high .365 as a sophomore for the Bucs -- 58 points higher than his nearest teammate. He also led the team in RBIs and doubles.
Former ETSU first baseman Paul Hoilman is hitting .256 for the Peoria Chiefs of the Class A Midwest League.
The 19th-round pick of the Chicago Cubs last June has 30 doubles, seven homers and five triples among his team-high 89 hits and has driven in 58 runs. He has struck out 129 times in 348 at-bats.
The 30 doubles leads the league, and Hoilman is fifth in RBIs.
The women’s soccer team will be first to report to camp this summer. Players come in next Tuesday, followed a week later by volleyball and men’s soccer.