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Young optimistic about SIUnewcomers this season; likes athleti

by Danny Carpenter

ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

SALEM -- The process of the Salem International men's basketball team continues despite a change at the coaching position.

The Tigers continue to reload their roster for new coach Danny Young, who replaces Mike Carey after 13 years. Young, who was Carey's assistant for the past five years and main recruiter, believes post players Derrick Paul and Ed Jenkins will be missed, but this year's recruits ease their losses.

Young has brought in 6-foot-10 Lawrence Fielder and two 6-7 forwards, Damon Bennett and Jason Dunham.

"We're back to more athletic post players like we were a couple years ago," Young said.

Fielder was a transfer from San Jose State University to Fullerton Junior College, where he averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds last season.

"He's very athletic," Young said. "He runs, jumps, rebounds and scores well, and he's very mobile for a big man."

Bennett went to Butler County Community College last season and averaged 15 points and eight rebounds.

"He's a tremendous leaper and shot blocker," Young said.

Dunham was a third team All-American and first time all-conference and region for Gloucester Community College. He averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds.

"He very athletic and can score from the inside and outside," Young said.

An area of concern the past three seasons has been the point guard position, according to Young. SIU has not had a dominant point guard since Melvin Roberts' graduation in 1998.

But Young believes he may have finally found a replacement in Wykeen Kelly (6-0, 190 pounds).

Kelly, along with teammate Dunhem, helped Gloucester win the Division III Junior College national title last season. Kelly was named the nation's player of the year in D-III JC play.

He averaged 21 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals, and Young believes "he is as good as any guard we have had here."

"He's a good leaper and scorer and will make an immediate impact. He should be an All-American candidate at the end of the season," Young said.

But right now he hopes the new players can jell with his returners and get accustomed to his system.

"We've had couple practices now and they've been pretty good, but they are tired," Young said. "Going three hours a day, the new guys are fatigue and frustrated both."

Assistant sports editor Danny Carpenter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at dcarpenter@exponent-telegram.com

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