MORAGA, Calif. -- Saint Mary's men's basketball coach Randy Bennett announced Wednesday that the Gaels have signed three players to a National Letter of Intent on the first day of the early signing period that began Wednesday.
In forward Calvin Hermanson, guard Cullen Neal and forward Dane Pineau, Bennett welcomes a class that has him optimistic about the future of Saint Mary's basketball.
"We're excited about this recruiting class. They've all been at the top of their class where they've played thus far. They've been able to handle success well," Bennett said. "They've all been very high achievers academically, so there's just a lot of things they have going for them. Those kinds of guys do well in our program."
Hermanson comes to Moraga by way of Lake Oswego High in Lake Oswego, Ore. The 6-foot-6, 200-pounder drew national interest after a strong showing at the adidas Super 64 showcase in Las Vegas this summer, but chose to stick with the Gaels, who had recruited him well before most schools.
"The first thing is I really love the coaches," Hermanson said. "I loved Moraga too. Everyone really supports the team."
Neal joins the Gaels out of Eldorado High in Albuquerque, N.M. At 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, he is the son of former NBA and Georgia Tech standout Craig "Noodles" Neal. The younger Neal is a taller than average point guard, much in the mold of current Saint Mary's guards Matthew Dellavedova and Stephen Holt, that has drawn praise for his passing ability and ability to score when called on.
"It's been my dream to play college basketball," Neal said. "I can't wait to get to Saint Mary's."
Adding to the class is Pineau, a forward out of Melbourne Grammar School in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. A 6-foot-9, 217-pound member of the Australian 19-under national team, Pineau becomes the latest in a long line of Australian imports to choose Saint Mary's.
He was also the first of the new Gaels to sign on the dotted line, faxing his letter of intent on Wednesday morning in Australia, which translated to Tuesday evening in Moraga.
"It was pretty exciting to finally pen to paper," Pineau said. "I'm pretty excited to get it all done. I'm just really excited to get to go over and play college basketball."
Forward, 6-foot-6, 200 pounds
Lake Oswego High, Lake Oswego, Ore.
Rated a 3-star recruit by Rivals.com. Ranked No. 144 in the Rivals.com Top 150 recruit list for 2013. 2012 Gatorade State Player of the Year for Oregon. Owned a 3.47 GPA as a junior at Lake Oswego. Plays at the same high school that produced U.S. Olympian and Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love.
Coach Bennett on Hermanson: "He's a very good scorer without playing selfish. He can really score. He'll be a good perimeter player for us that can put the ball in the basket. Super kid. Really good student. We were really excited about him, and he was equally excited about our program."
Hermanson on his own game: "I can score, but I like working hard on defense and hustling."
Guard, 6-foot-4, 180 pounds
Eldorado High, Albuquerque, N.M.
Rated a 3-star recruit by Rivals.com. Ranked No. 150 in the Rivals.com Top 150 recruit list for 2013. Rated as the No. 1 prospect in New Mexico for 2013 by ESPN.com. 2012 Gatorade State Player of the Year for New Mexico. Dad, Craig, was a standout at Georgia Tech, played eight seasons in the NBA and is currently the associate head coach at New Mexico.
Coach Bennett on Neal: "He's a big point guard. He's a great passer. He loves basketball. He has a high basketball IQ. He's like the guards we've been playing with, and they're hard to find."
More Coach Bennett: "He scores 27 or 28 a game, but he scores when he needs to score for his team to win. His gift is he's got great vision and he likes to pass."
Neal on Pineau and Hermanson: "I've heard all about Calvin and Dane. I feel like I'll fit well with them."
Forward, 6-foot-9, 217 pounds
Melbourne Grammar School, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Member of the Australian 19-under national team. Named captain of Australian 18-under national team at the Albert Schweitzer Games in Germany in April. Lived in New York from 1999-2002. Father, Brad, played collegiately at Hawaii and played for the Melbourne Tigers of Australia's National Basketball League. Praised both for his ability to rebound and run the floor.
Coach Bennett on Pineau: "He's not a low post guy, he's an out on the floor type four man. He's one of the best guys in his age group in Australia, and those guys are usually pretty good players."
Pineau on Saint Mary's: "I really liked Coach Bennett and the coaches," Pineau said. "They're really good guys. I really liked the campus because it's really similar to the school I go to now."