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Local Area Standouts Help to Fill Out FGCU Roster
8/28/2001

The Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball team is still a year away from playing their first game, but the newest college basketball team in the nation is already up and running. Immediately after taking the job, head basketball coach Dave Balza spent a month and a half traveling around the country to find the right type of player for his program. The result was eight young men from West Virginia, Texas, Indiana and other parts of Florida. This first group of recruits has facilitated the opportunity to get a year’s worth of practice in this season.

One of those first recruits signed was former Canterbury High School product, Brett Fritz. Now, Coach Balza has announced he has added three more local players to the program.

Santron Van Rivers comes to FGCU from North Fort Myers High School. As a senior, the 5’11 guard was second on the team in scoring with 10.6 points per game. Van Rivers also averaged 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 2.8 rebounds per game. “I’ve added Santron,” stated Coach Balza, “because of his hustle, determination and defensive intensity. He is a terrific young man whom I expect to really grow as a player in our system.”

Matt Witsken joins the Eagles from Barron Collier High School, where he played for Coach Joe Consolino. As a senior, Witsken started all 33 games and earned Honorable Mention All-County honors. He averaged 9.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game in leading Barron Collier to a school best 23-10 record and a district championship. Witsken, a 6’4 forward, moved to southwest Florida from Indiana, where he played at Hamilton Southeastern High School as a junior. Coach Balza had this to say about the transplanted Midwesterner, “Matt has a good understanding of how to move, screen and cut. He’s going to have to adjust somewhat to the size at this level, as he played center in high school, but I love the fact that he does what it takes to win.”

Zack Eaton knows all about FGCU, considering that he lives about a jump shot’s distance away from the campus. Speaking of which, the Estero High School graduate knows a thing or two about shooting. Eaton, a 6’3 guard, is eighth on Estero’s all-time scoring list. As a senior, he led Estero in scoring at 15.2 points per game. He also averaged 3.7 rebounds in claiming school MVP and All-Conference honors. “Zack is a very good shooter, especially off the dribble,” said Balza. “He is a deceptive athlete and he’s a young man who will continue to get better as he gets stronger.”

Balza was happy with the addition of his three local players. “All three are good young men,” noted the coach, “willing to do whatever is asked of them in order to have a chance to play college basketball. I like that! They all have potential, and I’m excited about watching them grow as players, students, and individuals.”

Balza hopes to add three or four more players from the current student body to fill out the practice roster for this year. All of the newcomers will have this year to impress the coaching staff in hopes of earning a roster spot next year, when FGCU will play their first official season in school history.

For more information, contact Dave Balza at (941) 590-7039 or dbalza@fgcu.edu.

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