Santa Clara Announces 2009 Men's Basketball Signees

Santa Clara Announces 2009 Men's Basketball Signees

Nov. 12, 2008

Santa Clara, Calif. - Santa Clara Head Basketball Coach Kerry Keating announced the 2009 Bronco signing class Wed., Nov. 12. The 2009 Santa Clara class includes wing Ray Cowels (Hopkins HS, Minnetonka, Minn.); forward/center Chris Cunningham (Diamond Ranch HS, Pomona, Calif.); forward Niyi Harrison (Bellarmine College Prep, Miliptas, Calif.) and point guard Robert Smith (Perris HS, Perris, Calif.).

The 2009 Bronco class includes:

NamePositionHeightWeightHometown/High School
Ray CowelsWing6-4210Minnetonka, Minn. (Hopkins)
Chris CunninghamF/C6-8220Pomona, Calif. (Diamond Ranch)
Niyi HarrisonF6-7212Miliptas, Calif. (Bellarmine)
Robert SmithPG6-0180Perris, Calif. (Perris)

"I am really excited about the 2009 class and applaud our staff in their efforts to bring them together," said Keating. "This class shares a competitive spirit. They are currently in a winning environment and that will ease in their transition to the Mission Campus next year. They all bring something particular to the table, but all share a common bond that now makes them a part of the Santa Clara community. Most notably their work ethic, commitment to defense and ability to make their team better, all of which will be counted on during their time here as Broncos."


Wing * 6-4 * 210 * Minnetonka, Minn. (Hopkins)
Coach at Hopkins is Ken Novak ... Hopkins is ranked No. 9 in the nation in preseason poll according to and the same high school as 2008 Santa Clara graduate Mitch Henke ... Two-time all-conference (sophomore and junior years) ... He averaged 17 ppg and 4 rpg as a junior when team finished at 27-2 last season and was a Class 4A Section finalist ... His sophomore year he averaged 11 ppg and 6 rpg as his team made it to the section championship ... Has a 3.7 GPA entering his senior year ... Mother is Wanda Jackson.

"Ray is the quintessential team player. He comes from a great program at Hopkins and is accustomed to winning and doing whatever it takes to help his team win, most notably on the defensive end. Ray has a competitive nature, especially taking pride in his defense and that will quickly become an important piece of our team here at Santa Clara. He, like the rest of his classmates, have always put a priority on their academic performance and that has carried over to success on and off the floor. It's largely because of that fact that we are excited about adding Ray to our family."

"It was a great location. It's an up and coming program. I really liked all the coaches and players - everyone seems really friendly. I like the fact the athletes are student-athletes and the classroom comes first. I have also known Bronco assistant coach James Ware since I was in eighth grade." (Ware is a 1995 graduate of Hopkins.)

F * 6-8 * 220 * Pomona, Calif. (Diamond Ranch)
Coach at Diamond Ranch is Loren Grover his junior and senior years and was Ed Taylor his first two seasons ... Averaged 15 ppg, 10 rpg and 2 apg his junior year; and his sophomore year he averaged 15 ppg and 12 rpg ... Won the Maramonte League title in 2008 and was named second-team CIF Southern Section the same year ... AAU team is California Supreme and is coached by Gary Franklin, Sr. ... AAU team won the 2008 Main Event (Las Vegas), was a 2008 Finalist in the Easter Classic (Las Vegas) and won the 2008 Pangos Classic title (Los Angeles), while making the Peach Jam Final Four (Augusta, Ga.) ... Also participated in the 2007 Nike Global Challenge for the top 50 high school players in the USA; in the 2008 Stoudemire Skills Academy for the top 20 high school big men in the USA; and was invited to participate in the 2008 LeBron James Skills Academy, but didn't participate because he was sick ... Also active in his church ... Mother is Jacky Cunningham.

"Chris and I have a relationship dating back to the summer entering his freshman year of high school and it has been exciting to see him grow as a person and a player since then. Chris comes from a great family, has always put an emphasis on his academic performance and has carried a great work ethic into improving his basketball skills. I am excited to add Chris to our family."

"First, Santa Clara is the perfect place for me to succeed academically, athletically and socially. Second, Coach Keating and the whole staff will help me reach my potential on and off the court."

NIYI HARRISON -(Niyi pronounced 'Knee')
F * 6-7 * 212 * Milpitas, Calif. (Bellarmine College Prep)
Coach at Bellarmine College Prep is Patrick Schneider ... Averaged 14 ppg and 7 rpg as a junior ... Team was CCS Division I champions ... Was named to the Rise All-Bay team, the All-WCAL team and Nor Cal Prep Boys Basketball top 5 his junior year ... AAU team is Bay Area Hoosiers ... AAU coaches are Phil Doherty, Rick Perez and Robert Jones ... Parents are Michael and Kemi Harrison.

"Niyi was the first in this class to commit to us and he did that the summer after his sophomore year. Since then he has made it a point to improve himself on and off the floor and his tremendous work ethic has put him in a position to succeed at Santa Clara and beyond. Niyi is local, attending Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, and has felt like a part of our team since the day he committed. Not only will he provide energy and excitement to the Bronco faithful for the next four years, but I urge our fans to support him in his senior season at Bellarmine."

"I chose Santa Clara for the great academic program it has to offer and also because it's an up and coming athletic program. I am really looking forward to being part of the basketball team under Coach Keating. He will be amazing. He will guide and push us to a higher level of performance."

G * 6-0 * 180 * Perris, Calif. (Perris)
Coach at Perris is Elzie Landers ... Named to the 'All Best in the West' third team by the Long Beach Press Telegram ... Averaged 15.5 ppg, 4.2 apg, 5.7 rpg and 3.2 spg as a junior to lead his team to the Division 3 finals and first round of the state playoffs ... 2008 All-CIF Division 3A Player of the Year, two-time Sunbelt League MVP (2007, '08) and two-time first-team all-county (2007, '08) ... Sophomore year he averaged 17.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.4 apg and 4.0 spg to lead Perris to semi-finals in Division 3 CIF Playoffs ... First Team All-CIF in 2007 ... Freshman year he averaged 12.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 4.1 apg and 3.1 spg, leading Perris to Division 2 quarterfinals in the playoffs ... Second Team All-CIF, first-team all-league and second-team all-county ... AAU team is FBC Perris and they are coached by Byron Samuel ... Mother is Yolanda Swayzer.

"Robert and I also have had a relationship dating back to his freshman year of high school. Similar to Chris, he has made great strides on and off the floor. With him playing the point guard position, I expect that relationship to help him in his transition to Santa Clara to become a vital part of success here with the Broncos."

"I chose Santa Clara foremost because of the great coaching staff. Coach Keating and I have the best relationship I ever had with a coach and I haven't even played a game for him yet. There are already is a good group of guys there and some really good players coming in that can help make us better. Santa Clara is a nice place to be and everyone gets along with each other; and that's important because we spend a lot of time together. And not to mention, we are also about to win a ton of games!"

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