The more Todd Eaglin heard from North Texas coach Tony Benford and his staff about the Mean Green’s needs over the last few weeks, the more convinced the Tyler Junior College point guard became that he was meant to continue his career in Denton.
Eaglin considered his options over the last month and committed to UNT late Thursday.
“Coach was telling me that they needed a true point guard to come in and run a system,” Eaglin said. “I am a passer. They have a lot of wings who can score the ball. It will be a good fit.”
The 5-foot-11 Eaglin averaged 15.2 points and ranked third nationally among JUCO players with 7.6 assists per game last season, when he was named to the All-North Zone first team in Region XIV. He also was named second-team all-region.
Oral commitments are nonbinding. The late signing period begins April 16.
Eaglin said that UNT was the only Division I school that offered him a scholarship, but that Middle Tennessee, New Mexico and New Mexico State showed interest. He will have two years of eligiblity remaining at UNT.
UNT finished 16-16 in its second season under Benford and lost three senior guards to graduation, including Alzee Williams, who ranked second among UNT players with 45 assists. Williams often handled the ball when starting point guard Chris Jones was out of the game.
Jones ranked seventh in Conference USA with an average of 4.1 assists per game and ranks sixth in school history with 282 career assists, despite playing in just 66 games after missing parts of his freshman and sophomore seasons due to injuries and eligibility issues.
Eaglin will give UNT a second option at the point guard spot to go along with Jones, who will be a senior next season.
“He is fast with the ball, and we run a system that lends itself to assists,” Tyler coach Mike Marquis said the Apaches’ offense, which depends largely on having a point guard who can make quick decisions and passes that put teammates in position to score.
Eaglin has yet to visit UNT but said the academic opportunities the school provides are important to him, as is the opportunity to continue his career at the major-college level.
“I am going there for basketball, but it is also a good spot for me to get my degree,” Eaglin said. “Basketball is not always going to be there. I am headed toward business or accounting.”
Eaglin also named the relationships he developed over the last few weeks with Benford and assistant coach Scott Monarch as one of the reasons he felt comfortable with the idea of playing for UNT.
Committing to UNT will give Eaglin the opportunity to reunite with DeAndre Harris, who signed with the Mean Green during the early signing period. The two played together as freshmen at Tyler before Harris sat out last season with medical issues.
“DeAndre is a good friend,” Eaglin said. “We played one year together as freshmen. He’s a really good player.”
UNT signed Harris and San Jacinto shooting guard Carrington Ward during the early signing period and now has three junior college guards coming in to fill the void left by a trio of senior guards.
UNT also lost Brandan Walton and Vertrail Vaughns to graduation. Vaughns averaged 7.3 points per game, while Walton added 7.2 points. Walton led UNT with 42 3-pointers on the season.
Eaglin shot 39.8 percent from 3-point range and could give UNT another outside shooting threat.
Eaglin is the fourth player to commit to UNT in the class of 2014. Dallas Carter forward Jeremy Combs signed with UNT during the early period in the fall.
Arlington Seguin forward Greg Wesley also is expected to be eligible in the 2014-15 season after sitting out last season while working to become eligible.
Marquis said Eaglin will fit in well at UNT.
“He’s a great kid and has a really good personality — a winning personality,” Marquis said. “He has a great attitude on the floor and shoots it well.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.