Fordham Basketball Adds Two More to the Mix

Charles CostelloContributor IJune 9, 2014

Feb. 6, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; General view of the game between the Fordham Rams and the Saint Louis Billikens at Rose Hill Gym. St. Louis won 90-73. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Fordham continued its active offseason last Thursday when the school announced the signings of Dekeba Battee-Aston and Zaire Thompson to national letters of intent for the 2014-15 season.

Battee-Aston is a 6'9", 255-pound forward who was born in Australia and moved to Texas at the start of high school. 

He is expected to arrive on campus by July 1, in time to start classes and begin working out with the team.

Fordham head coach Tom Pecora, who had been looking to add depth to the frontcourt, said he thinks the Rams found someone who can contribute in multiple ways.

"He can handle and pass the basketball for someone his size," Pecora said on Sunday. "He's a decent rebounder, a big physical presence."

Battee-Aston has been on quite the journey the past few years.

Fordham first got a look at him a couple of years ago when he was playing at Northfield Mount Hermon, a prep school in Massachusetts.

Pecora said he was impressed with him back then, and now "he's gotten even bigger and stronger."

Battee-Aston spent the last year back home in Australia with his mother.

While acknowledging that the gap year could have an effect on the player, Pecora talked about what Battee-Aston could potentially bring to the team.

"He'll be some added depth on the baseline," Pecora said. "He's got veterans ahead of him. It's going to be a challenge.

"It's about competition. The more guys we bring in, the competition level will grow. That's what it's about—competing for minutes."

One of the more intriguing battles could come at point guard, where Nemanja Zarkovic is the projected starter.

Antwoine Anderson, who was ineligible last season, could see some time at the point as well, though Pecora describes him as more of a "combo" guard.

And then there's Thompson, a 5'11" point guard who played for the Urspring team in Schelklingen, Germany.

He averaged 10.4 points and 4.5 assists per game this past season, guiding Urspring to the championship game after leading it to the 2011 JBBL title and the 2012 Arby's Classic championship.

His teammate, Christian Sengfelder, signed with Fordham last month.

Pecora said he envisions a scenario where guys are out there every day trying to earn their spots.

"I think Zaire can really push Nemanja," Pecora said. "I want every position to be a two-headed monster where there are people going after each other every day in practice. That's going to make everybody better."

At the beginning of the offseason, Fordham was in desperate need of a point guard. Zarkovic was its guy, and now Thompson could provide some insurance.

Both signings made clear the type of player the Rams were looking for at the position.

"You have guys that you can get the ball to and they can score the basketball," Pecora said. "Knowing personnel is important for point guards—getting guys the ball in positions on the floor where they can score.

"Offensive sweet spots vary from player to player. Good point guards know where those are for each player. That's where they deliver the basketball. That's what separates good from great."


Quotations in this article were obtained firsthand.

Charles Costello covers the Fordham Rams for Bleacher Report. Twitter: @CFCostello.