May 21, 2010 9:32:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Edward Townsel''s recruitment came to a close Thursday when the Starkville High School point guard signed with Arkansas State.
Townsel led Starkville to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A and Grand Slam championships this season, averaging 18.8 points, 7.9 assists and 4.5 steals per game.
He had scholarship offers from Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette, Tulane, Rutgers, Louisiana Tech, Troy and Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Townsel earned All-State and All-State Tournament honors his senior season.
Arkansas State coach John Brady, who took LSU to the 2006 Final Four, said the Red Wolves'' recruitment of Townsel heated up in the last month when he realized he had a scholarship available.
Townsel had been on visits to Louisiana Tech, Louisiana Lafayette and Tennessee-Chattanooga.
After meeting with Arkansas State coaches and players, the dean of students and athletic director, Townsel felt at home, Brady said.
Brady believes he has found the program''s point guard of the future and Townsel is ready to expand his skills at the collegiate level.
"I hope to bring a whole lot of leadership, just anything at the point guard position that they haven''t had," Townsel told The Jonesboro Sun. "I''m probably going to try and be more of a scoring point guard than what they''ve had. Scoring won''t be a problem, but I like to get everybody involved. I take pride in getting everybody involved, but if I have to score, I can score it."
Townsel is the third Arkansas State signee of the 2010 class, joining former AAU teammate and Jackson native Malcolm Kirkland, who transferred from Oklahoma State.
Brady is excited to get a point guard who''ll add another dimension to how the Red Wolves play. Arkansas State went 17-14 last season and returns all of its starters. Townsel''s pace was unmatched in his final two seasons at Starkville and Brady is keen to bottle that speed and teach Townsel when to use it.
"We do run the ball, but we''ll run better with him," Brady said. "At the same time, if you win championships at the Division 1 level, you have to be able to play both ways. That may be something he has to learn a little bit; when to and when not to push the tempo.
"He''s got a toughness and confidence about him and he wants to be successful. I think he''s going to have an outstanding career."
Starkville coach Greg Carter expressed in the past that Townsel was under-recruited because of his size. How the state''s quickest backcourt playmaker flies under the radar at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds is anyone''s guess, but Brady is happy to reap the reward.
There''s too many positives to Townsel''s game to get caught up in measurements.
"It depends sometimes, but he''s got a great body, he''s explosive and strong in terms of quickness," Brady said. "His straight ahead speed is outstanding. Sometimes height is overrated, but the smaller you are, you have to be that much quicker. If you''re 5-8 and slow, you''re not going to make it.
"(Carter) thought Edward was under-recruited and he thinks he''s going to be special. I get excited because I know Greg''s background."
Brady and Carter go back to late 1980s when the former was a member of Richard Williams'' staff at Mississippi State. Brady recruited Carter out of Forest High and credits the former all-state player with helping turnaround MSU basketball.
"He came in with a class of six players from Mississippi and gave it its first SEC championship in 20 years," Brady said. "I remember watching him in high school and Richard asking me, ''Do you think he''s good enough to play in SEC?'' I told Richard, ''That''s not the question. The question is can we get him?''
"I think the world of Greg Carter. I told Edward, ''Years ago, I was telling (Carter) the same things I''m telling you."
Messages left for Carter and Townsel were not returned.
1. New Hope turns to Olsen to return soccer program to prominence HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS