By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
When last basketball season started, the point guard position was to be filled by committee by a host of freshmen. Now, with one addition, a veteran presence has been added, giving the Fairmont State men’s basketball team an added leader.
Coach Jerrod Calhoun and the Falcons announced the signing of Division I transfer Brandon Vega, from Winthrop.
When his team signed a point guard out of high school last week in Vonte Montgomery from Cleveland, Ohio, Calhoun mentioned that he wanted to bring in a veteran guard to help for the future development of his younger players.
Now, with Vega coming to Fairmont, he has that.
“Brandon gives us an experienced guard in the backcourt that has a ton of experience, including on the Division I level,” Calhoun said of Vega in a press release.
Vega, a 5-foot-10 point guard, averaged 13.0 minutes per game during his junior season for Winthrop. Coming off an injury, the Miami, Florida, native averaged 3.5 points and 1.9 assists per game last season.
Prior to his time at Winthrop, Vega was a standout at Snow College in Utah, where he averaged 11.3 points, a conference-best 6.4 assists and added 3.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore, all while garnering Scenic West Athletic Conference second-team honors.
Calhoun compared Vega’s skills to former FSU standout Malik Stith.
Much like Vega, Stith transferred in for his senior season from St. John’s, a Division I program.
While at FSU, Stith teamed up with scorer Isaac Thornton and averaged 14.7 points and a team-high 3.6 assists while putting up a 1.5 assist/turnover ratio.
Stith and Thornton helped Calhoun and the Falcons to a 23-9 season in 2012-13 and to a run in the NCAA Tournament, something Calhoun hopes Vega can do with solid scorers like Stevie Browning and company.
Vega’s pass-first mentality should help a team whose point guard tandem of Caleb Davis and Shammgod Wells combined to have 167 assists but also 103 turnovers. As a team, the Falcons dished out 12.4 assists but also turned the ball over 15.0 times per game, a 0.8 turnover/assist ratio.
“Look at his JUCO stats,” Calhoun said in an interview after the signing was announced. “He’s an unbelievable passer. His assist-to-turnover ratio in JUCO was three to one. He wasn’t fully healthy last year or he probably would’ve played a ton for (Winthrop).”
Calhoun expects Vega to be an immediate contributor on the floor, showing the expected leadership that the Division I transfer brings to the table.
With the addition of Vega, though, Calhoun and the Falcons are looking for one more piece to the puzzle to solidify what Calhoun said “could be the best team at Fairmont in a while.”
The next addition that will fill the coming season’s recruiting class will likely be a “stud” forward, Calhoun said.
“With Vega, Jamel (Morris), Stevie and Thomas (Wimbush), our one, two, three and four is very, very good,” Calhoun said. “They all should hopefully have great summers and be first-teamers. So if we get a big, that would be great.”
Email Matt Welch at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.