WNCC signs top players
It’s not too often that any college, no matter what the level, can brag about landing arguably the top four players from its immediate area in a recruiting class. But Western Nevada Community College baseball coach D.J. Whittemore thinks that’s exactly what he has done.
WNCC signed three more Northern Nevada players in its second recruiting class for 2007 during the first day of the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association signing period on Sunday. Douglas High’s Roman Davis, Spanish Springs Kyle Smith and Reno High’s Davis Banks all signed to play with WNCC.
Set to join them today is Carson High’s Logan Parsley. Whittemore said Parsley, an infielder who was recruited by Saint Mary’s, was scheduled to sign today. Whittemore said he believes those four players are the top four players in this year’s Northern Nevada senior class.
“That’s our No. 1 priority, keeping the best players from our service area in town,” Whittemore said.
In all, eight players were scheduled to sign with WNCC on Sunday. Along with Parsley, Andrew Reed, a left-handed hitting first baseman from McNary High near Salem, Ore., was scheduled to sign later this week. That gives WNCC 10 players in the class, with Whittemore looking to sign two more, giving him a total of 12.
Other local players Whittemore is recruiting include Carson’s Kevin Schlange and Royal Good and Douglas High’s D.J. Brady.
Davis, a three-year starter at catcher was also the quarterback for the football team. “He’s a terrific athlete,” Whittemore said. “He’s got a fantastic arm. He runs real well.”
“To think I’m going to be playing college baseball, it’s exciting,” Davis said. “I definitely plan on going to a Division I school after this. I plan on being here for a couple of years and then transferring on.”
Whittemore considers Smith, a right-handed pitcher, to be the highest profile player in Northern Nevada. Smit may have a decision to make this spring as there’s been talk he could go as high as the first 10 rounds of the Major League draft.
Smit, who has a fastball clocked at 93 miles an hour, helped lead Spanish Springs to the 2005 Northern 4A title. Among the Division I schools recruiting Smith were Nevada and UNLV.
“Just to get it over with, so I know where I’m going next year,” said Smit on why he decided to sign with WNCC. “Now I can focus on the season instead of wondering whether I’m signing or not.”
Whittemore said he considered Banks, a shortstop, to be the best hitter in Northern Nevada. Banks was the starting second baseman for Reno’s 2004 NIAA 4A state title team. He will also be Reno’s No. 1 pitcher this season.
Banks will join his father, Dennis, who is the Wildcats’ pitching coach, at WNCC. Along with playing for his father, Banks said he’s looking forward to playing for Whittemore. “He’s a great guy,” Banks said.
Three Las Vegas area pitchers, who Whittemore said all have the potential to be draft, were also scheduled to sign. They include Eldorado’s Josh Creveling, a right-handed pitcher/first baseman.
A two-time first team all-conference performer, Creveling is considered to be one of Southern Nevada’s top two-way players as a pitcher and first baseman. Whittemore said Creveling has a legitimate chance to be a two-way player in college.
Kevin Kreier is a right-handed pitcher from Foothill. Kreier has a fastball in the upper 80s to lower 90s and also stars for the basketball team, which is one of the state’s top ranked clubs. Kreier also played in the Area Code Games.
The third pitcher is right-handed Jose Barajas of Spring Valley. In addition another Las Vegas player, Charles Howard, was scheduled to sign. Howard, an outfielder, helped lead Sierra Vista to the 2005 4A state title and his American Legion team to the Western Regional title last August.
The eighth player scheduled to sign on Sunday was Clifford Shepard of O’Connor High near Phoenix. Shepard is a three-year starter as an outfielder and earned all-league honors as a junior. Reed is a three-year starter and a two-time all-league selection. He was also a tight end-linebacker on the football team.
Whittemore said all of the players in the program have the potential to move on to a higher level.
“We don’t want to recruit anybody that doesn’t have a chance to be a Division I player,” he said.
This year’s team will open its inaugural season on Jan. 27 against Glendale, Ariz., in Henderson. The nonconference schedule is brutal as all 16 nonleague opponents are ranked. Eleven of the 16 teams are ranked in the nation’s top 20 and the other five are all California ranked teams from Southern California.
The schedule doesn’t become any easier when conference play begins as the Scenic West is considered the nation’s toughest.
WNCC has received a setback at catcher where two of its top players have been sidelined. Trent Smith was dismissed from the team due to academics and Aaron Greer is still recovering from a rare medical condition that caused him to have blood clots.
Otherwise, WNCC has performed well in the classroom. Last semester, 21 players had a grade point average above 3.0 and the team G.P.A. was 3.3.
The Wildcats also still have a capable starting catcher in Spring Creek’s Taylor Meiras, one of three Northern Nevada players expected to start. Also expected to start are Spanish Springs’ Brad Carlsen and Carson’s Aaron Henry as the centerfielder and leadoff hitter.