Basketball Bears Get Commitments from Three Prep Standouts

Nov. 14, 2012

SPRINGFIELD - Missouri State men's basketball coach Paul Lusk has received National Letters of Intent from three players for the 2013-14 season he announced Wednesday (Nov. 14), the first day of the early NLI signing period.

In Lusk's second Missouri State recruiting class are: Tyler McCullough (6-10, 230, C, Fayetteville, Ark., Fayetteville High), Austin Ruder (6-3, 185, SG, Nixa, Mo., Nixa High), and Devon Thomas (5-11, 170, PG, Baltimore, Md., Kimball Union Academy).

"You win championships with good players and good people," said Lusk. "With this class, I think we've got the complete package - players who will make a difference on and off the floor. Continuing to get the right guys at the right spots will help us continue progressing to being contenders in the Missouri Valley."

McCullough was a 2012 Arkansas Class 7A All-State performer who helped Coach Kyle Adams' Bulldogs to a 21-7 finish and state runner-up finish last season. He averaged 11.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game his junior season while earning all-conference distinction the last two years. He's also an accurate shooter and proficient shot blocker with a field goal percentage of greater than 60 percent and an average of 2.9 blocked shots per contest.

"He's a true post with great hands," Lusk said. "He's a skilled big man who embraces physical contact and runs the floor. I feel that he can be a force on the blocks. He was the first player to commit to us a year ago. He wants to be here, and we're excited and grateful to have him as a Bear."

Ruder enters his senior season after a helping Coach Jay Osborne's Eagles to a 30-2 ledger and Missouri Class 4 runner-up finish in 2012. He knocked down a school-record 82 3-pointers, averaged 17.8 points and posted 3.0 assists per game as a junior. He was a consensus Missouri all-state pick, a two-time all-conference selection and enters his senior season with 1,172 career points.

" ranked Austin as one of the top 10 shooters in the country, but I think he's more than that," said Lusk of the local product. "He has the ability to stretch the defense with his stroke. He is a complete player who can put it on the deck, shoot the pull-up jumper and already has a college shot with his range and release."

Thomas averaged 11.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.2 assists his junior year for Coach Mike Olson's Kimball Union Academy team in Meriden, N.H.  He has helped the Wildcats to a 38-15 total record the last two season with the 2011-12 season culminating in the NEPSAC Class AA tournament quarterfinals. As a junior, he earned All-New England second-team honors while recording KUA's first-ever triple double on Feb. 4, 2012. He was voted team captain for 2012-13, and Coach Olson describes his style as playing with "attitude, flair and an unbridled charisma."

"Devon is a quintessential point guard," Lusk explained. "He has great speed and quickness and is good with the ball in his hands. He has good vision, a great motor and is a natural leader. He can really play this position at a high level."

Lusk also noted that all three of his 2013-14 commitments are excellent classroom performers as well and exude confidence and leadership qualities he seeks for the future of the MSU program.

The Bears, who are 1-0 on the young season, resume play this Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at JQH Arena against No. 23 San Diego State.



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