LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – UALR head men’s basketball coach Steve Shields announced today the signing of Solomon Bozeman (Magnolia, Ark./South Florida) and Wayne Burton (Dallas, Texas/Western Texas College) to National Letters-of-Intent.
A 6-0 guard, Bozeman was an All-Arkansas selection at Magnolia High School and will transfer to UALR after spending the past two seasons at the University of South Florida. He averaged 7.3 points and 2.5 assists per game for the Bulls the past two years, and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2008-09 season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.
“I’m really excited about having Solomon join our program. He’s a guy we’ve known for a long time, having recruited him out of high school,” said Shields. “He possesses great leadership qualities and has really good floor vision. He also has two years of experience in the Big East Conference under his belt, and played 30 minutes a game as a freshman. That speaks volumes about what he can bring to the table for us.”
A 6-8 forward, Burton averaged 10 points and six rebounds a game while leading the Western Junior College Athletic Conference with 69 blocked shots as a sophomore. Burton earned honorable mention All-WJCAC accolades each of the past two years in a league which is widely considered the top junior college conference in the country by college coaches, having produced the last two NJCAA national champions. Midland College won the 2007 NJCAA national championship after a third-place finish in the WJCAC, while South Plains College won the NJCAA national title in 2008 despite finishing fourth in the WJCAC.
“Wayne brings excellent length to our front line. He led one of the best junior college conferences in the nation in blocked shots, and will add a dimension to our defense,” said Shields. “Wayne is a great fit for us, in that he is an extremely hard worker, and our staff looks forward to working with him and continuing his development as a post scorer.”
As a true freshman at USF in 2006-07, Bozeman averaged 9.6 points and 3.5 assists while playing 30.6 minutes a game. He ended the year ranked 16th in the nation and second in the BIG EAST with an .884 free-throw percentage by converting 130 of 147 attempts at the line – including 28 straight during one stretch. He appeared in all 30 games with 24 starts, and scored in double figures 12 times that year, including a career-high 24 points against Bethune Cookman on Dec. 31, 2006. His 23 points against Buffalo in the season opener (Nov. 13) established a new school record for points in a freshman debut.
Bozeman played in all 31 games during his sophomore year, but saw his playing time drop to 18.8 minutes a game. He finished with season averages of 5.1 points and 1.5 assists per game. He leaves USF as the program’s all-time leader in free throw shooting at 87.9 percent (167-of-190).
As a senior at Magnolia High School, Bozeman was named Class 4A All-State and All-Arkansas by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after averaging 28.5 points, 3.3 assists and 3.0 steals per game. He led Magnolia to a 23-6 record and a spot in the championship game of the state tournament by averaging 34.0 points per game during the postseason, earning all-tournament honors in the process.
He played his junior season at Oxford High School in Mississippi, where he averaged 25.1 points, 6.6 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. He received district most valuable player honors and was named the Oxford Eagle Player of the Year for 2004-05.
Bozeman’s father, Eric, is the head coach at Southern Arkansas and served as an assistant under Rod Barnes at Ole Miss for seven seasons. Bozeman originally committed to Ole Miss before ending up at South Florida when Barnes was let go.
Burton joins the Trojans from Western Texas College, a basketball program which was reinstated for his freshman season after a 13-year hiatus. As a freshman in 2006-07, Burton averaged 13 points, six rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, while shooting 57 percent from the field.
After going 13-16 in 2006-07, the Westerners put together an 18-11 campaign this past year and finished fifth in the WJCAC. Burton averaged 10 points and six rebounds per game as a sophomore, while leading the WJCAC with 69 blocks (2.4 per game) and ranking 13th in field goal percentage (.557).
“Wayne is extremely athletic. He can run up and down the floor with anybody, and can really defend and block shots. He can also score around the block,” said Western Texas head coach Mark Berger. “He’s really got a motor and is going to play hard every night.”
A product of Carrolton Ranchview High School, Burton scored a season-high 28 points against Wayland Baptist on Nov. 1, 2007, and put together a 20-point, 12-rebound, eight-block effort against Clarendon on Jan. 31, 2008.
The addition of Burton and Bozeman brings UALR’s signing class to three for the 2008-09 season. Forward Courtney Jackson signed with the Trojans during the fall period, and was named Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC) Class 4A All-State and Class 4A All-Region after averaging 23 points and 15 rebounds per game as a senior at Paris (Texas) High School. Jackson led the Wildcats to a perfect District 11-4A season and took Paris into the second round of the state playoffs.