When North Texas coach Tony Benford looked at his team heading into his third season at the school, he saw several key holes he and his staff needed to address.
Benford couldn’t have been happier with how UNT filled a few of them on Wednesday, when the Mean Green signed junior college standouts Muhammed Ahmed and Todd Eaglin.
Ahmed, a 6-foot-7 forward, was named a third-team NJCAA All-American last season, when he averaged 17.6 points and 7.6 rebounds a game for Gillette (Wyo.) Community College. Eaglin ranked third among junior college players nationally with an average of 7.6 assists a game to go along with 15.2 points a game. The 5-foot-10 guard from Tyler Junior College was a second-team All-Region IV selection.
The two players join a class that also includes San Jacinto College guard Carrington Ward, Tyler JC shooting guard DeAndre Harris and Dallas Carter forward Jeremy Combs.
“We are really excited. They are both great character guys,” Benford said of Ahmed and Eaglin. “I like our team. We have depth. We have guys who can dribble, shoot and pass. We also have guys who can rebound.”
Both Ahmed and Eaglin are key additions Benford believes will help UNT have a more well-rounded team next season.
UNT struggled at times inside last season and lost a pair of 6-foot-10 centers in Keith Coleman and Kelvin Gaines, who both left the program after their junior seasons. Ahmed could help fill the void they left.
“He was exactly what we were looking for,” Benford said of Ahmed. “There are a lot of guys in our league [Conference USA] who are 6-7 who can really play. The staff did a good job of locating him.”
Benford credited assistant David Anwar for finding and recruiting Ahmed, who spent a season playing at Miami Dade College before transferring to Gillette.
“North Texas felt like it was the best place for me as far as the people, the academics and basketball,” Ahmed said after committing to UNT earlier this month. “I have a good relationship with the coaches, and I felt good about it when I met some of the players on my visit.”
Eaglin could also address a key need for UNT, which was seeking a second point guard to pair with senior Chris Jones after losing Alzee Williams to graduation. Williams was UNT’s second-leading scorer last season with an average of 11.1 points a game.
“Todd is a really good player,” Benford said. “He ranked third in the country in assists on a team that lost its two best players. For him to be third in the country was a great accomplishment.”
Eaglin is also an an effective 3-point shooter, hitting 39.8 percent of his attempts from behind the arc last season. Eaglin hit seven 3s and scored 42 points in a game against Panola.
“Coach was telling me that they needed a true point guard to come in and run a system,” Eaglin said when he committed to UNT in late March. “I am a passer. They have a lot of wings who can score the ball. It will be a good fit.”
Benford said UNT is still actively recruiting and could add players to its roster during the rest of the signing period, which ends May 21.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.