Penguins’ roster set with last pair of signees
YOUNGSTOWN — Shemar Rathan-Mayes is a 5-foot-11 point guard who spent the last four seasons with Orangeville Prep’s program in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Youngstown State’s coaching staff liked what it saw out of the backcourt player who averaged 14 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals this past season — capping a career for a program that produces at least a half-dozen NCAA Division I players each year.
Orangeville Prep went 86-4 in Rathan-Mayes’ four seasons and he was selected for the BioSteel All-Canadian Game, the Canadian version of the McDonald’s All-American game.
“We feel really comfortable with him with the pass, catch, shoot,” said YSU men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun, whose team signed Rathan-Mayes and Alex Vargo, from Wheeling, W.Va., Park, on Wednesday. “He’s really good. He’s played with tremendous players. He’s done a great job of leading his team, winning. We want to recruit guys from winning cultures.”
Rathan-Mayes’ older brother Xavier is a 6-4 guard who played at Florida State University and played briefly for the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s played in the NBA’s G-League, and now is on the roster of the Hamilton Honey Badgers — part of the Canadian Elite Basketball League.
“He’s got good bloodlines,” Calhoun said of Shemar Rathan-Mayes. “He’s been through the process. He’s been very well-schooled. We just had a really good feel for him. I think he has a good feel for the game.”
Vargo, a 6-6 guard and West Virginia AAA first-teamer, scored 1,634 career points — second in school history. He averaged 27.8 points and 7.8 rebounds a game and shot 42 percent from 3-point range. Vargo was a 2020 McDonald’s All-American nominee and set Wheeling Park’s single-game scoring mark with 53 against Parkersburg South on Jan. 20.
Calhoun’s wife, Sarah (McKenna), was a graduate of Wheeling Park, and so was former YSU player and 1997 West Virginia Player of the Year Rafael Cruz. Cruz came to YSU after spending time at the University of Massachusetts. He followed then-Penguins coach John Robic, who was named coach in the spring of 1999.
“He is shot-maker,” Calhoun said of Vargo. “When it comes to Alex Vargo, another winner. Wheeling Park, they won a lot of games. My wife went to the same high school as Alex. Very, very familiar with the area. He’s a guy we targeted early on. He’s a gym rat, loves the game. He’s a wing player. We shot 32 percent from 3 last year, so that’s where we’ve got to get better.
“Although we had the second-best efficiency rating in the league, we felt like we needed more shooters, guys who can stretch the floor with Naz (Bohannon) and Q (Darius Quisenberry) and some of these kids who can drive the ball. They’re going to have to honor both him and Shamar. Alex won a lot of games and lives in the gym. Comes from a great family. Was very well-coached. Another winning program.”
William Dunn (6-8 forward from Quincy, Mich.), Myles Hunter (6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C.) and Cheick (pronounced SHAKE) Traore (6-8 forward from Concord, N.C.) signed last November.
Dunn averaged 20.5 points and 9.2 rebounds, while Hunter averaged 14.5 points per game and shot 46 percent from the floor. Traore averaged 8.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.