Richie McIntosh (@richiemcintosh)
With Markell Lodge’s announcement today, the Hawks have added a second commitment to their 2014 class.
The 6-foot-7, 205-pound wing from Christian Faith Center Academy (NC) announced his decision today, after trimming his list two just two schools: Saint Joseph’s and Stephen F. Austin. Lodge visited Hawk Hill on the weekend of September 7 before making his choice.
He joins Cardinal Hayes (N.Y.) guard Shavar Newkirk in the Hawks‘ 2014 recruiting class. The move will certainly bolster the athleticism of a roster that loses the unmatched explosiveness of highlight dunker Ronald Roberts after this season, as well as fellow starting power forward Halil Kanacevic.
“He most definitely can slide in as a freshman and get some minutes,” his AAU coach, Michael Blackwell of Team Loaded (Va.), told CoBL. ”Markell is a kid that has high-major athleticism on both ends of the floor, that’s what he’s known for.”
There have certainly been comparisons between Lodge and Roberts, an All-Big 5 First Team selection last season after averaging 11.2 ppg and a team-high 8.3 rpg. Both are strong, athletic high-flyers who can and will dunk nearly anything around the rim.
Ultimately, what could separate the two is that Lodge does have the ability to step outside and hit a jumper, something Roberts rarely does and never out to the 3-point arc–he has yet to attempt one in his SJU career. While Lodge’s biggest strength is in the post, Blackwell does see the potential for him to move out to the wing if necessary.
“I think the biggest thing with Markell is trusting his perimeter game,” Blackwell said. “A lot of times he looks to pass it before he shoots it. He’s a kid, who in workouts has a great touch, it’s just trying to get him to trust his jump shot when it comes to game time.”
Upon arrival, Lodge will likely compete with DeAndre Bembry for minutes on the wing, though some playing time seems probable to open up given the graduation of Roberts, Kanacevic and senior wing Daryus Quarles.
What could certainly help Lodge see playing time right away is if he can contribute on the defensive end of the court against high-level athletes like VCU commit Terry Larrier.
“Right now, he’s a kid that loves to defend the paint,” Blackwell said. “The good thing about Markell is that Markell is one of the most coachable kids that I’ve ever had go through the program.”
CoBL will have more on this story shortly.