McPherson College head men's basketball coach Tim Swartzendruber has announced the signing of six incoming freshman for the 2018-2019 season.
The list is highlighted by local products from Buhler and Sedgwick High Schools but also includes another Kansan, two players from the Oklahoma City area and one from Texas.
Grant Owens, C, 6-8, Hutchinson, Kan. / Buhler HS
A solid post player, Owens earned two letters while playing for head coach Ryan Swanson at Buhler High School. He averaged a double-double with 11.9 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 63.5 percent from the field en route to back-to-back All-AVCTL Division III First Team honors. Owens, who averaged 2.1 blocks per game, was named the Hutchinson News Reno County Player of the Year in 2018 and was named to the All-Tournament Team at the 2018 Salina Invitational. He is a member of National Honor Society, an Honors Scholar (top 10 percent of graduating class) and a member of the high honor roll (4.0 or better GPA) all four years. Owens is the son of Harold and Jessica Owens and is planning on majoring in mechanical engineering.
In my tenure, we have never signed a post player with Grant's ability,” Swartzendruber said. “Not only is he a very talented big man, but he is outstanding in the classroom and has extremely high character. To land someone from a quality program like Buhler with his potential is outstanding for us. I can't say enough about how excited we are to have Grant in a Bulldog uniform. He is someone people will want to come watch."
Neal Bever, SG, 6-0, 165, Colwich, Kan. / Sedgwick HS
A shooting guard, Bever lettered twice while playing for head coach Darren Crumrine — a 1993 McPherson College graduate — at Sedgwick High School. He averaged 18.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game as a senior while shooting 52.5 percent from the field, 41.4 percent from behind the arc and 77.7 percent at the free throw line. As a junior, Bever averaged 16.3 points per game and shot 49.4 percent from the field, 36.1 percent from 3-point range and 75.3 percent at the stripe.
He was a two-time All-Heart of America League First Team pick, earned 2018 Class 3A All-State honors from Sports In Kansas (Second Team) and the Topeka Capital Journal (Third Team), and was named to the honor roll. Bever is the son of Jeff Bever and Donna Bever and anticipates majoring in sport management at McPherson.
"Neal is one of the best all-around athletes in this part of the state,” Swartzendruber said. “He excelled in football and baseball along with basketball. He can play point guard or the shooting guard spot. He has shown he can make big shots under pressure and we love his court demeanor. His HS coach, Darren Crumrine, does an excellent job and we are excited to have Neal on board."
Byron Searls, F, 6-5, 180, Edmond, Okla. / Edmond North HS
Searls, a forward, played for head coach Terry Evans at Edmond North High School and also played club ball for Chris Myers and the Oklahoma Impact program. He was inducted into National Honor Society. Searls is the son of David Searls and Samantha Searls and anticipates majoring in biology at McPherson.
“[Byron] was also a key player on the AAU Oklahoma Impact squad and made an impression on us last summer,” Swartzendruber said. “He is an excellent student and can play multiple positions. We love his toughness and ability to play several spots. His AAU Coach, Chris Myers, pushes his players and we believe Byron will be ready to adjust to college basketball."
Elliot Mehrens, SF, 6-1, 170, Topeka, Kan. / Topeka West HS
Mehrens, a small forward, was a multiple-time letterwinner for head coach Rick Bloomquist at Topeka West High School. A 2018 All-City honorable mention, he averaged 6.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.4 blocks per game for the Chargers. Mehrens, who also earned an academic letter and was on the honor roll for four years, is the son of Allison and Andre Mehrens and plans to pursue a degree in physical therapy. He also participated in the Topeka Rush club program under the direction of Curtis Landis.
"I am thrilled to sign someone from Topeka West High School,” Swartzendruber said. “I have known Coach Bloomquist for a long time and he runs a first-class program. Elliott has been taught the right way, he is tough, and will be coachable. He is a high character person who will work hard every day. Those are the kind of players who are successful in our program. He will have a great career at McPherson College."
Andrew Malveaux, SG, 5-8, 135, Houston, Texas / Strake Jesuit College Preparatory
Malveaux, a 2017-18 second team all-district selection, earned three letters while playing for head coach Dominic Amorosa's Crusaders. He drained 115 3-pointers for Strake and also participated in the Sanni Hoops club program under the direction of Jarvis Sanni. Malveaux is the son of Andrew Malveaux.
"We learned about Andrew through a connection in Houston,” Swartzendruber said. “He played an extremely high level of basketball at Strake Jesuit and when he visited, we were very impressed with his character and competitiveness. He is an outstanding shooter and he also showed he can be great defensively. Andrew will have a great career at McPherson College."
Josh (J.R.) Rivers, PG, 5-9, 145, Oklahoma City, Okla. / Midwest City HS
Rivers, a point guard, was a four-year player for head coach Dewayne Bradley at Midwest City High School. He averaged 7.4 points per game and hit at a 40-percent clip from behind the arc as a junior. Rivers also plays club ball with the OKC Primetime program. He is the son of Clay Rivers and Tonya Rivers and anticipates in majoring in business at McPherson.
"We couldn't be more pleased to sign another player from Midwest City,” Swartzendruber said. “Not only does Josh come from a great program, he is one of the top point guards in Oklahoma. He is extremely competitive and makes people around him better. Coach Bradley is well respected in Oklahoma and will have Josh prepared for college basketball. This is a great addition for us."