February 6, 2009

Hawkeyes interested in Chipola duo

In recruiting, connections are always important and the Iowa Hawkeyes are actively recruiting a pair of dynamic basketball players that could have a big impact on the program. Chipola Junior College traditionally produces a bevy of Division One talent and Coach Lickliter and his staff are working hard to land a talented point guard and forward from their program.

Chipola Head Coach Greg Heiar grew up in the state of Iowa and was an all state selection while playing at Dubuque Wahlert High School. After his college career ended, he spent four years early in his coaching career at Loras College working under current Iowa assistant Chad Walthall.

Now in his fifth season as the Head Coach at Chipola, Heiar has his team rated as one of the top teams in the junior college ranks and is loaded with talent. With Iowa in the market for a point guard, the Hawkeyes have made their way to the Florida campus to take a closer look at Malcom Armstead, a 6-foot-1 and 170 pound point guard.

The Florence, Alabama native is a freshman for Chipola, who is expected to be able to transfer to a Division One school as a sophomore and according to Heiar, he would be a great pass first type point guard.

"He doesn't turn the ball over and he is super efficient. He has a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio on the year in league play," Heiar said. "When you have someone like him running your team, it makes life a lot easier because he stays composed and he is always under control. He can shoot the ball, but he is really a pass first point guard. Last night was a perfect example. He has 13 points in the game and in the last five minutes we were down by three and he takes control and scores nine straight points and dishes out a couple of assists."

In his time at Chipola, Heiar has coached some very talented point guards, including Michael Taylor, who spent time at Iowa State, along with several others who went on to play high Division 1 basketball. But, he thinks Armstead is among the best he has had.

"I think he is really a special kid. I have had some really good point guards here, so guys who have gone on to play in college and in the NBA and while he isn't the most talented of those players, he is the best true point guard as far as running the team, being a coach on the floor, and having great poise."

More important for the Hawkeyes, is that they have built a very solid relationship with the talented guard and that will hopefully pay dividends on the recruiting trail.

"He has a great interest in Iowa and the staff for the Hawkeyes has done a wonderful job of recruiting him and building a wonderful relationship with the family, which is really important. I know he is very interested in Iowa," he said.

"I worked for Coach Walthall and got my start in coaching working for him and he has worked really hard to recruit him. When you want the really good players, you have to work hard because it just doesn't happen in one or two trips. Iowa has really put in the time and effort and it says a lot about their work ethic."

The Iowa coaches are also showing interest in another prospect on the Chipola roster, Torye Pelham, a 6-foot-6 and 225 pound forward who is a big time athlete. Pelhman, who is originally from Nashville, TN, is averaging 9 points and 6 rebounds a game while shooting 62% from the field. The sophomore forward also happens to have been a prep school teammate of Armstead's at Central Park Christian in Birmingham, AL.

"They are roommates at Chipola and stayed together at prep school at Central Park Christian. I am sure that they had a vision of playing big time basketball together."

Pelham is one of those special athletes on the basketball floor that is blend of athleticism and emerging basketball talents.

"He is a phenomenal athlete. He can defend four positions. He can make open three's and really finish on the fast break," Heiar said. "He will probably be a top ten athlete next year at the D1 level just as far as his athleticism. He is a really good kid and a hard worker on and off the floor. I think by the time he is a senior, he will be a special player because every day that he has been with us, he has gotten better."

Being a native Iowan, Heiar has watched his share of Hawkeye Basketball under Coach Lickliter and from his vantage point, he sees both players as potentially very good fits for the system that Iowa runs.

"The thing that makes them a good fit for Iowa is that they are very good with ball screens and Coach Lickliter likes to use that quite a bit. He runs really good ball screen offense and Malcom is really good with the ball screen and Torye is really good off the ball screen and rolling to the rim with his athletic ability."

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