JONESBORO, Ark. (4/26/17) – Arkansas State head coach Mike Balado announced today that four prospective student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball for the Red Wolves.
Guard Marquis Eaton (Jonesboro, Ark.), guard Grantham Gillard (Minneapolis, Minn.), forward Tristin Walley (Richton, Miss.) and forward Shaquillo Fritz (Freeport, Bahamas) each signed NLI’s to join the Red Wolves’ program bringing a combined record of 109-17 from their most recent season.
Marquis Eaton | G | 6-2 | 180 | Jonesboro, Ark. | Jonesboro HS
A 6-foot-2 point guard from Jonesboro High School, Eaton led the Hurricane to its first undefeated season (32-0) since 1954 and earned MVP honors in the 6A State Championship game win over El Dorado. Eaton, the Arkansas Activities Association Wendy’s High School Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year, averaged over 12 points, five assists and four rebounds a game. He finished his two-year stint at Jonesboro High School having helped the Hurricane to the state title game both years and a combined record of 56-3 in those two years. He is a three-time All-State selection and was named the ‘Best Under The Sun’ Player of the Year this past season. Prior to joining Jonesboro High for his junior season, Eaton was an all-state selection at Helena-West Helena Central. Last summer, Eaton averaged 17 points and six assists with the Arkansas Athletes Outreach (AAO) team.
“My first priority when I came to Arkansas State was to keep Marquis Eaton home in Jonesboro where he belongs,” Balado said. “His unique feel for the game, leadership, and toughness aren’t something you find very often from a high school senior. We look forward to helping Marquis achieve his dreams here at Arkansas State and beyond.”
Shaquillo Fritz | F | 6-8 | 215 | Freeport, Bahamas | Paris (TX) Junior College
Fritz, a 6-foot-8 forward, is a long, athletic, elite shot blocker that is very active on the boards. Last season at Paris (Texas) Junior College, Fritz averaged 4.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while ranking top five nationally with 40 total blocks. He shot 57.8 percent from the field last year and pulled in five or more rebounds in 15 of 27 games played. In his freshman season, Fritz averaged 2.8 points and 3.2 rebounds on 60.8 percent shooting at Miami Dade College. Fritz averaged eight points and 14 rebounds per game for the IMG Basketball Academy squad that finished 40-3 in the 2014-15 season. Gifted with an 7-foot-3 wingspan and a 40-inch vertical, he also averaged four blocked shots. Rated as the No. 1 big man in the Caribbean for the Class of 2015, Fritz played for Westwind Preparatory Academy during the 2013-14 season. As a junior at Westwind, Fritz averaged 6.4 points, 19.2 rebounds and 5.7 blocked shots per game.
“Shaquillo has an extremely high ceiling and is a perfect fit for how we want to play,” Balado said. “His length, athleticism, and his elite level shot blocking ability is an ideal match for our up tempo and pressing style of play. I know that our fans will love watching Shaquillo play.”
Grantham Gillard | G | 6-4 | 200 | Minneapolis, Minn. | South Plains (TX) College
A 6-foot-4 guard, Gillard comes to A-State after spending last season at South Plains (Texas) College. He averaged 10.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 16 minutes per game. He helped the Texans to a 32-2 mark and an appearance in the NJCAA Tournament semifinals. He shot 46.8 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from 3-point range while reaching double figures in 19 of 34 games played. In his freshman season at Northwest (Wyo,) College, he averaged 15.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and was selected the team’s player of the year. He shot 42 percent from the field, 40 percent on 3-pointers, and 72 percent on free throws. A two-sport standout at Eden Prairie High School, he quarterbacked his team to four-straight state championships. His father Bruce Gillard played quarterback in college at West Virginia and Ohio.
“Grantham brings a unique ability to shoot the ball from anywhere on the court,” Balado said. “He is a high character kid, from a great family, and he has won everywhere he has been. Grantham will be a great fit for our program.”
Tristin Walley | F | 6-7 | 205 | Richton, Miss. | Jones County Community College
Walley, a 6-foot-7 forward, shined at Jones County Community College the last two seasons. He helped the Bobcats to a program best 29-2 record in 2016-17 while averaging 10.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game on 47.2 percent shooting. He earned Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges (MACJC) all-conference honors as the team won the MACJC Conference championship and Region 23 Tournament title, qualifying for the NJCAA Tournament for just the second time in program history. As a freshman, Walley contributed 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the 17-8 squad. Walley earned back-to-back Hattiesburg American All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors in his junior and senior seasons at Hattiesburg High. He averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks leading the Tigers to the 6A State Tournament his senior year. He was a two-sport star in high school, starting at quarterback for the Tigers.
“In my opinion, Tristin was one of the most complete all around players in junior college this past season,” Balado said. “He is known as a tremendous worker and gym rat which matches the culture we will instill. We are really excited to get the opportunity to coach Tristin and watch him grow at Arkansas State.”