Men's Basketball Signs Three Outstanding Guards
Trae Berhow, Colbey Ross and Jade' Smith will be Waves in 2017-18.
MALIBU, California -- With three senior starters in the backcourt set to graduate, the Pepperdine men's basketball team landed three future outstanding guards as head coach Marty Wilson announced the program's national letter-of-intent signings today: Trae Berhow of Minnesota, Colbey Ross of Colorado and Jade' Smith of Northern California.
"Our staff did a great job of identifying and building relationships with these three young men who will fit greatly together and with our basketball team," Wilson said. "They are definitely OKGs -- our kind of guys -- on and off the court. They all come from great families that support them and have helped them be successful. We believe that they will all have the opportunity to compete right away on the court, and will bring great value to our university as well."
Berhow (Watertown, Minn./Watertown-Mayer HS) is rated as one of Minnesota's top 10 players. Ross (Aurora, Colo./Eaglecrest HS) was the Colorado state Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior. Smith (Oakland, Calif./St. Joseph Notre Dame HS) has won two state high school championships and was rated as one of the nation's top 100 seniors at one point.
Here are the important details about each of the Waves' recruits:
6-foot-5 wing / Watertown, Minn. / Watertown-Mayer HS / Powerhouse Hoops MN AAU
Rated as one of the top 10 players in the state by NorthernExposurePreps.com ... A two-time All-Minnesota River Conference selection ... Also earned All-Area status as a junior after averaging 25.7 points, 12 rebounds and three assists ... Averaged 18 points and eight rebounds as a sophomore and won a league title ... A four-year varsity player.
Wilson says: "Trae has the ability to shoot the ball from deep, from mid-range, off the catch or by creating his own shot. He is an athletic, big wing who will be able to defend multiple positions."
Bob Hennen, Watertown-Mayer High Coach, says: "Trae is a great two-way player. Offensively he's very, very skilled and he can really score the ball. Defensively he's really good. He's led us in rebounding the last two years so he plays both ends of the court. For a coach, it's a great thing to have your best offensive player working hard on both ends. Trae is a great kid, I've known him for 10 years since he was a little kid in our camps. He's a very good kid, volunteers his time, always helps when needed. He's a great player and a great kid and a joy to coach. I think Trae will do really well at the next level. He's got an incredible work ethic, he knows he'll need to keep working at it, but he's so skilled. His offensive game is so diverse, he's not just a three-point shooter, he's not just a driver. Scoring doesn't define his game, he can help the team other ways. I think he will do well at Pepperdine because he's skilled and works hard."
Jonathan Williams, Powerhouse Hoops MN AAU coach, says: "Trae is a loyal, dedicated and hard-working kid. He follows through on everything to the best of his ability to reach his goals. He's a fantastic kid. Pepperdine is a great place for him and they're getting an outstanding student-athlete. Trae is persistent. He always plays to the final horn and never quits. He's going to be a great attribute at Pepperdine."
NorthernExposurePreps.com wrote: "Trae Berhow is one of the most complete prospects in the class with his ability to impact the game on both sides of the ball at a high level. Berhow can take over games offensively with his ability to get hot from beyond the arc as well as take defenders off the dribble finishing around the rim at a high rate."
6-foot-1 guard / Aurora, Colo. / Eaglecrest HS / Colorado Chaos AAU
Colorado's state Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior ... Earned CHSAA All-State 5A honors and Denver Post All-Colorado first team status after averaging 18.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 steals ... Scored a season-high 38 points against Denver East ... Helped Eaglecrest to finish as 5A state runner-up and led both teams with 27 points in the state championship game vs. Overland ... As a 2014-15 sophomore, averaged 17.3 points and was all-state second team and All-Colorado honorable mention ... Helped Eaglecrest to a 46-9 record the last two years ... Also played on the varsity as a freshman and averaged 5.0 points ... Given a rating of 69 by ESPN and a two-star recruit.
Wilson says: "Colbey is a very smart, tough and confident guard who can hurt a defense in a multitude of ways. He is a very good passer who sees plays before they happen. He can also be on the receiving end by knocking down jump shots from deep or off the pull up."
Jon Olander, Eaglecrest High Coach, says: "If you ask anybody at Eaglecrest they would all say the same thing, that Colbey is probably one of the most well-liked kids by his teachers. He's a good student, hard working, very respectful. And he's that way as a player with me. Personally in my 16 years, and that's includes winning a state championship in 2013, I've never had a player as good as Colbey. The reason why is I've never had a player who works as hard as he does. You can't keep him out of the gym. He's the most competitive player that I've ever coached. He hates to lose. There's no reason we should have been in the state championship game last year, returning only two starters, but Colbey willed the team to an amazing season. He sees the floor better than anybody I've coached against or that I've coached. He's relentless as a defender, relentless with the basketball. He's not afraid to give the ball up and knows how to make the right pass at the right time. He led us in scoring, assists and rebounding last year at the guard spot. From what I understand Pepperdine isn't afraid to play multiple guards so I can see Colbey with the ball in his hands, getting the ball to his teamtes in the right spot at the right time. But you can't help off of him either because he hits open shots. He plays at his own pace, controls the game. Whatever the coaches ask him of next year, he's going to be able to do."
Dave Matthews, Colorado Chaos AAU Coach, says: "He's an incredible young man. He's our all-time leading scorer in the history of the Colorado Chaos, and we've had 397 players go to play in college. He can really play and he's even better off the court. He's hyper-competitive, can score big baskets when you need them, he's a great floor general and gets after it on defense. He's one of the best rebounding guards in the country, and that's an underrated skill for a lot of guards. He'll compete on the glass against anybody. He's at the top of his game and hasn't slowed down. So many great players get complacent but he's in the gym working every single day. I think he'll be a big-time player in the West Coast Conference, to be honest. He's a good get for Pepperdine, and a good fit, which was important to him."
The ESPN Insider site says: "Ross has a solid frame with decent length and budding skills. He is a point guard who has a solid burst off the dribble and can finish in the lane. He pushes the ball well in the open court and his head is always up looking for open teammates. He can rub his defender off of screens and locate open shooters as well."
6-foot-4 guard / Oakland, Calif. / St. Joseph Notre Dame HS / Splash City AAU
Averaged 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals as a junior as St. Joseph won the CIF Division V state title ... Scored a game-high 21 points in the state championship game against St. Bernard-Playa del Rey ... Made the All-East Bay and All-Tri County Athletic League first teams ... Injured for a significant part of his sophomore season ... Was a starter on the varsity as a freshman as St. Joseph won a state title ... Was at one time rated among Scout's top 100 players in the nation ... Rated a score of 75, a three-star recruit and one of California's top 25 players by ESPN.
Wilson says: "Jade' is a player that can hurt you in a variety of ways on both ends of the floor. His confidence and quickness allows him to score, shoot and create off the dribble. He is a very athletic, big guard who can play on or off the ball."
Don Lippi, St. Joseph High Coach says: "Jade' does well in class, he's never been in trouble, he's on time, he's respectful and he takes good of his family. He can really defend. He's got great anticipation of where a defender is going to throw the ball, and then he's athletic enough to get to the spot where the ball is going to make the steal. He plays the 4 for us on defense. He's ferocious on the boards and a great defender. He's got a great basketball IQ and has a knack of where the rebound is going. He's got great court vision and is very unselfish with the ball. He enjoys making the assist as much as he does to score. He loves to win and knows how to do it. Coaches who followed him in AAU this summer said he was one of the few guys who was willing to pass the ball. Guys usually go for points to get recognized, but because of what he does, his team always wins. His upside is very, very high. His game can transfer to the next, next level. He's going to get better and better. He moves quickly, jumps high, has a keen sense of the game. He will get to the basket and create shots for other people. He will be able to create mismatches with other guards in the WCC. He's probably got another inch or two to grow. He's going to be good at Pepperdine."
LeRohn Dodson, Splash City AAU Coach, says: "In my 20 years, Jade' is one my most favorite kids I've ever coached. As talented as he is on the court, off the court is what I really love about him. He's everything you want as a coach, and I've coached 20 NBA players and hundreds of NCAA players. I've told Pepperdine's coaches that they're getting a tremendous young man who is going to be a really good basketball player and is going to help them win a lot of games. He's a Pac-12 talent and the coaches did a really good job of getting him there. His strengths are his size and athleticism for his position. He's got elite-level size for the point guard position. He has a really good feel for the game and knows how to play, with or without the ball. Guys will love playing with him because he's a pass-first point guard. He's got a winner's mentality."
Vonn Webb, Splash City AAU Coach, says: "I've been doing this a long time and he's one of the best young men I've ever been associated with, on and off the court. He's a great young man. Without question he's a Pepperdine guy and encompasses everything Pepperdine stands for. He's fun to coach and fun to be around. He's got a high basketball IQ, very intelligent on the floor, understands the game. He's very unselfish and plays hard. He's a perfectionist who wants to be the best he can be. He's a leader who knows how to lead his teammates. He's what you look for in a point guard. Pepperdine got a great, great prospect, and he's going to be really good and help that program win a lot of games in his four years."
The ESPN Insider site says: "Smith has an ideal Division I frame with long arms and with room to add good weight. He isn't a true point guard at this stage in managing the offense, but he does have the savvy and skill set to mold into a point guard. He is quite effective attacking off the dribble and his pull-up game is very good. He shows excellent touch in the mid-range area and his jump shot out to 15 feet is smooth. In addition to his ability to score consistently at the rim and mid-range, he can also be an astute passer. He is quite good at the drive and kick as well as the drop-off pass in the mid-range area."
With four scholarship seniors on this year's team, the Waves could still sign one more player before next season.
Pepperdine begins the 2016-17 season with a three-game homestand, facing Cal Poly on Friday (Nov. 11), Weber State on November 15 and Life Pacific on November 17. All three games will be at 7 p.m. and will be shown online via WaveCasts on TheW.tv.