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Photos by Paul Hokanson
Xavier Ford averaged 27.4 points per game in his senior season at Harrison. Photo: Colorado Springs Gazette
He has joined the ranks of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony, and this fall he joined the UB men’s basketball team. His name is Xavier Ford, and he is among the most decorated recruits the Bulls have ever had.
After his senior year at Colorado Springs’ Harrison High, Ford was named a third-team PARADE magazine All-America selection. The 6-foot-8 forward is the only UB signee ever to earn the prestigious national honor.
“I’ve never seen a leader like him.”Coach Jim Masterson
Each year, the magazine names four teams of 10 players, many of whom achieve greater success in college and in the pros. There are more than 160 former PARADE All-Americans currently playing in the NBA, and they include the aforementioned superstars.
“To be recognized alongside the best high school players from across the country is a great accomplishment,” Bulls coach Reggie Witherspoon says of Ford.
A Colorado Springs, Colo., native, Ford averaged 27.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game during his senior season at Harrison. The Panthers went 20-5 overall and finished second in their league while earning a berth in the state tournament. He was the only Colorado player named to the PARADE list.
Ford brings to Coach Witherspoon’s Bulls an infusion of young talent on what will be an otherwise veteran squad. UB returns four starters from a team that went 20-14 last season. UB’s membership in a mid-major conference was among the reasons Ford chose Buffalo.
In addition to his size and skill, Ford is a natural leader, according to his high school coach, Jim Masterson. When Ford was named league player of the year, Masterson told The Colorado Springs Gazette: “He was the voice of this team, and in my 34 years of coaching, I’ve never seen a leader like him. In addition to [being] a great athlete, he’s one of the greatest young men I’ve ever known.”
Added Masterson, “He will leave a stronger legacy for Harrison basketball than anyone ever has.”
Ford, who plans on majoring in physical therapy, hopes to leave the same mark on UB.
Having one swimmer qualify for U.S. Olympic Team Trials is a feather in any school’s swim cap. Boasting you’ll be sending five, though, and you can fill your entire pool with feathers.
That’s how many UB swimmers will head to Omaha, Neb., next summer with hopes of representing the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The Bulls quintet qualified for team trials following stellar performances at various meets over the summer.
The group includes senior Alie Schirmers, who became the first UB woman to qualify for U.S. team trials after swimming the 200-meter breaststroke in 2 minutes, 35.63 seconds at the Eastern Zone Speedo Sectional Meet in Pittsburgh.
A native of Coon Rapids, Minn., Schirmers holds the UB school record in the 200 breaststroke and is a member of the Bulls’ record-holding 800-meter freestyle relay team.
Joining her next summer will be men’s swimmers Phil Aronica, Mike Dugan, Matt Hogan and Matt Schwippert.
As a boy growing up in Cedar Hill, Texas, just outside of Dallas, Josh Thomas idolized the Dallas Cowboys. After an outstanding career as a cornerback at UB, Thomas received the phone call of a lifetime on April 30 when he was taken by “America’s Team” in the fifth round (143rd overall pick) of the 2011 NFL Draft. Thomas got the call from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a surreal moment he says he won’t soon forget.
Only one UB Bull has been drafted higher—Ed Ellis, BA ’97, who was the 125th overall pick in 1997. Thomas is the fourth UB player drafted in the past four years.
Thomas entered UB under former coach Turner Gill (now at Kansas). During his sophomore year (2008), the Bulls throttled previously unbeaten Ball State 42-24 in the MAC Championship game and earned a bid to the International Bowl in Toronto.
As a senior, Thomas recorded 58 tackles (30 solo), two sacks and an interception. Thomas credits Gill and current coach Jeff Quinn for his development as a player.
When draft day approached, Thomas’ agent told him not to watch the draft. Thomas was enjoying a normal day at his grandmother’s house in Texas when his cellphone rang. The call was from a 972 (Dallas) area code. It was a Cowboys representative who then turned the phone over to Jones. “He says, ‘Are you there?’ I said, ‘Are YOU there?’” Thomas recalls in describing his astonishment. “It still feels like a big dream.”
A .384 batting average over 52 games, 10 home runs, a .626 slugging percentage and a .446 on-base percentage. Those are some pretty good statistics, and they’re how UB catcher Tom Murphy earned 2011 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year honors. He’s the first Bull ever to be named player of the year.
The West Monroe, N.Y., native completed his sophomore season at UB ranking in the top 10 in six different categories in the Bulls’ single-season record book. His slugging percentage is the fourth-highest in UB history, and his 44 RBIs rank fifth. Murphy set a UB record when he homered three times in the Bulls’ 11-6 win over North Carolina Central on March 19, 2011. For the season, he finished among the top five in the MAC in three categories and claimed the conference batting title.
2.26.11 For the first time in school history, the UB men’s swimming and diving team wins the MAC title. The quartet of Simon Proudfoot, Mike Dugan, Jared Heine and Matt Hogan clinches victory by winning the 400-yard free relay in a school record, 2:56.60.
3.16.11 UB plays in a Division I postseason tournament for the first time in school history, participating in the Women’s Basketball Invitational. The Bulls come up just short, falling 82-79. Eventual MAC Player of the Year Kourtney Brown leads the UB effort with 21 points.
5.11.11 UB wrestling staff announces three more outstanding additions to the 2011-12 recruiting class, including four-time New York state champ Arik Robinson, California state runner-up Justin Lozano and two-time Michigan state champion Justin Heiserman.
5.14.11 The women’s rowing team captures two medals at the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, the nation’s largest collegiate rowing event.
6.6.11 Bulls forward Javon McCrea is invited to the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship team training camp, which features 21 of the nation’s best players age 19 and under. Despite a strong showing, he is the final player cut from the team.
Reported by David J. Hill, a staff writer in UB’s Office of University Communications
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