Pepperdine Men's Basketball signs three more recruits

November 19, 2015

The Pepperdine men’s basketball team and head coach Marty Wilson wrapped up the fall national letter-of-intent signing period with the announcement of their four-man freshmen recruiting class, as the team added forward Nolan Taylor, forward Craig LeCesne, and point guard Elijah Lee, to a class that already included shooting guard Knox Hellums.

“I am extremely excited about our recruiting class because they all bring some unique qualities to the basketball court,” Wilson said. “More importantly, they are high-character young men who come from very good families.”

Three of the players are from Texas, with each ranking among the top 50 seniors in the state by Hellums at #26, Taylor at #37, and Lee at #48.

The 6'7" Taylor attends Keller High School in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and has played with AAU clubs Dallas Mustangs and Nike Team Texas Elite.

“Nolan is a big, strong and tough power forward who enjoys mixing it up down low,” Wilson said. “He has great hands and rebounds the ball with the best of them. He is a very good low-post scorer who can use both hands, and he also has the ability to step out to shoot the three-pointer.”

Taylor is a two-time all-state honoree by Texas Basketball Magazine (second team in 2014-15) and a two-time District MVP at Keller High. He averaged 16.8 points and 9.7 rebounds last season and also made the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 6A All-Region 1 team.

Taylor has started at Keller since his freshman season and the school has won district championships each of his first three years. He averaged 16 points and 9.5 rebounds as a sophomore.

“It was mainly about the coaching staff,” Taylor said. “There weren’t many schools that recruited me where the coaches were as genuine as Pepperdine’s. I’m about relationships and the coaches built a relationship that I was comfortable with. I like my chances to play right away and help this team get to the NCAA Tournament. With the others in this recruiting class and the players they already have, I feel like we have a chance to be really good. The players are down to earth, you can tell they’re like a family, and I wanted to be part of that.”

The 6'9"  LeCesne is a former Swedish Junior National Team member who hails from Malmo, Sweden.  He is in his third year at the St. James School in Hagerstown, Md., and also plays for the AAU program DC Thunder.

LeCesne was born in Sweden, then lived in the United States from the age of 4 months until he was 8 years old. He returned to Sweden for the next eight years before returning to the USA for his sophomore year at St. James.

“Craig is a very skilled big man who can shoot, handle, create, post, rebound and finish on the break,” Wilson said. “His size and skill will cause problems for defenders because he can score inside against smaller players and create opportunities off the dribble on the perimeter versus bigger players. Craig’s skill set is something that attracted us to him and he will only continue to get better.”

LeCesne earned Herald-Mail All-Washington County honorable mention honors as a junior at St. James. This past summer with DC Thunder, he averaged 7.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in the Adidas Uprising Gauntlet Series. In 2013, he played in the U-16 European Championships with Sweden, and averaged 12.4 points and 4.0 rebounds with a high of 19 points in a game against Belgium.

“I loved everything I saw about Pepperdine: its location, the feel I got on campus, its Christian mission,” LeCesne said. “It’s a place where I can be productive and excel, both with basketball and academically, and become a better person. The basketball team is on the rise and has a very good future.”

The 5'10" Lee is a member of the HCYA (Homeschool Christian Youth Association) Warriors and is an AAU teammate of the Waves’ first announced signee, 6'5" two-guard Knox Hellums, with Basketball University.

“Elijah is a very fast, very quick point guard,” Wilson said. “He is a true floor general who makes everyone on the court better. Elijah is extremely confident in his ball-handling and passing skills, and if you’re a scorer, you are going to love playing alongside him.”

Lee is in his fourth year as a member of the Warriors’ varsity team. In 2014-15, he earned Homeschool All-American and All-Region first team honors while averaging 16 points, five assists and three rebounds. He was on the Maravich Award short list (given to the nation’s top homeschooled player) and was named to three all-tournament teams. The HCYA Warriors have been ranked among the nation’s top 10 homeschool teams throughout his career.

“I chose Pepperdine because of the education that it will provide me, because I want to major in business management,” Lee said. “And then there’s the athletic aspects, and the coaching staff and the players. I’ve had a great relationship with all of the coaches. They’ve stuck with me whether I’ve played bad or played well, and their consistency and character stood out. Coach Wilson was a point guard at Pepperdine and I’m going to learn a lot playing for him. The players I met, these are guys I wanted to hang around with, and I’m excited about playing with them.”

Hellums and Lee, who were teammates for two seasons with Basketball University, will replace two fellow Texans who are seniors on the current team, Jett Raines and Atif Russell.

By Staff of and news services

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