Men’s basketball coach Brett Reed is excited about next year’s freshman class and his three recruits entering Lehigh’s class of 2019, Matt Holba, Caleb Sedore and Kyle Leufroy.
“I feel this recruiting class is strong compared to our peers,” Reed said. “Hopefully as the years progress, they will be significant contributors to us on the floor.”
Reed said the state of the program, with the impending graduations of Corey Schaefer, Conroy Baltimore and Stefan Cvrkalj, has posed a necessity for the team to bring in not only bigger players, but also those with versatility, which often comes with size. For example, the team’s leading spot in Patriot League scoring for four of the past five seasons is largely based on the team’s use of the three point line and attempts to seek a balance between that and the interior.
Furthermore, he feels that this class truly exemplifies the strengths Lehigh has had in recent years, helped by the university’s national prominence, which largely stems from Lehigh’s high academic standards, even more so than during the university’s 2012 NCAA victory over Duke. This has enabled Lehigh to appeal to a larger range of prospects who would be good fits for the program, which includes a larger geographical base.
“We represent a university that resonates nationally because of its academic prowess,” Reed said. “It’s a great school, it gives us credibility with families and prospects that want a quality education, and we fit that profile.”
Reed went on to say that the recent success of the program has given it further credibility.
“We have had a lot of success in the Midwest, on the West Coast, and in other geographic pockets,” he continued. “Fortunately for us, prospects are willing to travel more at a distance because they see the combined value of a great school and a strong basketball program.”
Holba is a perfect example of a prospect who was attracted to Lehigh because of this balance between basketball and academics. According to him, the Patriot League is not a step down from a different conference, especially considering Lehigh’s schedule and strong chances of making the NCAA Tournament.
“If you’re a kid looking for a great academic school, it’s important that you look at schools such as Lehigh,” Holba said. “That was a big part of my decision, too, because it’s been important to me to get good grades and get a good education because basketball will stop eventually.”
The 6-foot-6 forward from Nobelsville, Indiana, comes to Lehigh after a strong high school career, which included notable recognition from nationwide scouts. In his junior year, during which he led his team to the state semifinals, Holba averaged 15.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game and was named an Indiana Junior All-Star by The Indianapolis Star. Rick Boulus, the leader of a respected basketball camp, names him as a top 10 finalist for the Indiana Mr. Basketball award, which honors the top high school basketball player in the state.
“Lehigh picked up a major steal in 6-foot-6 wing Matt Holba,” said an article on Rivals.com, a highly respected website focused on college athletic recruiting. “An athletic slasher from Indiana, Holba is a three-star prospect and should have been much more heavily recruited at the Horizon, MAC, MVC and even A-10 levels. He loves to attack the rim and is a threat with the jumper.”
Reed is highly excited about the energy Holba brings to the floor and the matchup problems he brings with his rare combination of versatility and size. In addition, Reed feels that Holba’s versatility, which he uses to assume roles similar to both a wing and a power forward, fits perfectly into Lehigh’s offense.
Holba received interest and offers from a wide range of institutions such as Princeton University, Providence College, the College of William and Mary and Pennsylvania State University.
Sedore, who committed on his 17th birthday, comes to Lehigh from the remote upstate New York town of Pulaski. He is the first person from Pulaski high school (where he earned all-conference honors as a junior, averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds) to play Division I basketball. Both he and Reed feel that his relatively unknown high school program and his relatively young age were the reason for his few offers and lack of widespread interest. His sole other offers were from Bucknell and Cornell universities.
“Being from a smaller community and being from a basketball program that hasn’t necessarily produced Division I basketball prospects doesn’t put him on the map for a lot of people who are going out and looking for prospects,” Reed said. “He was relatively unknown through the recruiting process, and his visibility and exposure was a little bit more limited.”
Nevertheless, Reed sees tremendous potential in this 6-foot-11 player, who has a great frame that can continue to grow in size and presence around the basket from both shoulders, but can also shoot from beyond the three-point arc. Furthermore, Sedore’s natural physical maturation process, combined with his desire to improve, will hopefully yield very positive results.
Both Reed and Sedore himself conceded that there would be a learning curve due to age and lack of experience playing against faster and more physical players, which is largely due to his geographically remote hometown.
Sedore said he was attracted to the program because of his good relationship with Reed, as well as the vision Reed and the other coaches had set out. Lehigh’s academic prowess and size certainly played a factor in his decision, as well. He admitted that if the situation at Lehigh did not work out as well as it did, he would have strongly considering playing in a postgraduate program.
Leufroy, like Holba, has also been called a “major steal,” according to Josh Gershon of Scout.com. According to Reed, the 6-foot-3 guard is an excellent player with a strong frame.
“He will have the ability to use his strength, as well as his athleticism and skill level, to be a multidimensional threat,” Reed said. “He can score the basketball, he can make plays off the dribble, and he has a defensive presence about him that is going to be strong for our program.”
Reed said Leufroy’s ability to score and to make plays to make the offense more versatile and play solid defense should yield him playing time early in his career. Leufroy’s ability to play both point guard and shooting guard, gives Reed the options of playing him and Kahron Ross together or letting Leufroy take over the point guard position.
Leufroy comes to Lehigh from a unique situation. He is originally from Pasadena in southern California, where he attended St. Francis High School in nearby La Canada. Then he decided to move in with a host family in northern California and enroll in Prolific Prep, a basketball academy devoted to developing basketball talent, while enrolled in Benicia High School. Both he and Reed feel he could have major dividends as his ability develops.
One of the factors was that drew him to Lehigh was the fact that the coaches reached out to him so early and that it was the first school to offer him a scholarship, something he highly valued in the recruiting process. He received subsequent scholarships from schools such as Boston University, the University of the Pacific and the University of California Santa Barbara.
Some of the best advice he received about Lehigh was from Portland Trial Blazers guard CJ McCollum, ’13, who was in contact with him throughout the recruitment process. A big takeaway Leufroy had from their interactions was that someone like McCollum could go to a school like Lehigh and come out as a great player.