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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Hoops Recruiting Report
Monday, February 2, 2009

By Thad Mumau

'Meaner' Straughn in the making

By Thad Mumau
All Rights Reserved.

For Erin Straughn, it was love at first sight.
Coaches from other basketball programs were very interested in the 6-foot-6 wing player, but East Carolina swept him off his feet.

What was it about the Pirates that Straughn liked so much?

“Basically, everything,” he said. “I fell in love with East Carolina when I visited. I really connected to the players, and I felt it was the place for me.”

Straughn, whose trip to Greenville was in September, visited Florida International later in the month, but his mind was already made up to be a Pirate.

“I wanted something to compare East Carolina to,” he explained, “but I knew where I wanted to go. I like the coaches there, and they told me I could get immediate playing time.”

Jacksonville, Georgia Southern and Tulane also offered scholarships.

“East Carolina made me a priority,” he said. “I was their first in-home visit. They offered me (a scholarship) the end of July.”

Straughn is averaging more than 20 points and 15 rebounds per game this season for Pensacola (FL) High School. He strung together five successive 20-20 performances.

As a junior, he averaged 16.6 points, seven boards and four assists for a 25-4 team which lost by two points in the regional playoffs. He threw in a career-high 45 points against Panama City Bay, adding 13 assists and nine rebounds in a spectacular showing.

“East Carolina is getting a class human being and a good basketball player,” said Pensacola coach Bob Stinnett, who knows what it takes to play Division I hoops. He was an assistant under Dale Brown for three years at LSU and also served a year on the staff of the University of New Orleans.

“He is going to be a very good player for East Carolina, but he isn’t going to come in his freshman year and set the world on fire. I see him getting 12 or 13 points one game and maybe four the next. He will have a learning curve, and he may learn fast, but he is going to have to make adjustments.

“He will have to go out on the wing and get a lot of his points, then pick his spots to go inside. And he will be able to do that. He isn’t the type who can score outside and not inside or the other way around.

“Erin has got to finish more plays,” Stinnett said, “and he is getting better at that. It’s not that he’s weak or afraid of contact or anything; he just finesses too much. Last year, he double- and triple-clutched a lot, and he still does too many finger rolls. But he is playing with more authority. He just needs to go up and dunk the ball when he can. I told him he has to get meaner and tougher.

“He plays all five positions for us, but will be a three/two (small forward/wing guard) in college. He passes the ball extremely well, and he handles the ball fairly well. He can shoot it, and he plays much better than average defense. For us, he has to guard big guys inside. He will be better against 6-6 and 6-7 guys, but will have trouble against the 6-5 super-quick kids.

“Erin has long arms, so he plays taller than his 6-6 height, and he has a nose for the ball. He gets up and down quickly; he’s a quick jumper.

“He is smart in the classroom (an honor student in the international baccalaureate program), and he learns fast. He’s very observant, very coachable. He is a quiet kid who listens to everything you say, and he answers when spoken to, but doesn’t say a whole lot more. He is very polite and pleasant. He has great parents.”

Straughn liked what East Carolina coaches had to say to him.

“They said if I would come in and work hard, I would have a chance to win a starting position," Straughn said.

“I feel I can shoot the ball. I know I will have to work on getting to the hole and finishing stronger; I need to play more aggressively. A lot of times, I could and should have dunked the ball, and now I see that. I have to have that frame of mind.

“I use the pump fake to get mid-range shots. I’m working on that a lot because there are a whole lot of open shots in that area.”

Straughn, who signed a letter of intent with ECU in November, can’t wait to begin working out as a Pirate.

“I need to lift more to prepare for college basketball,” he said, “and I will get on the weights hard when our season is over. I will be in the second session of summer school at East Carolina so I can get a head start on my studies.

“I will have to work on my defense, and I will have to be in better condition because the games are longer. And I know the games will be a lot faster-paced, so I’ll have to play smarter.

“I am really ready; I’m eager to get there. I love Conference USA and look forward to playing against Memphis and teams like that. Playing in that conference and playing for East Carolina will be good challenges.”

Stinnett feels it is a nice fit for Straughn.

“I think East Carolina is the perfect level for Erin,” he said. “They are getting a great kid and a great player.”

Dig into Thad Mumau's archives.

02/02/2009 02:53:32 AM


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