Grant: ‘We just got a whole lot better’

College of Charleston basketball coach Earl Grant knew the Cougars needed to get a little tougher and a little bigger to compete in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Grant believes he got both qualities in his two most recent signees forward Jarrell Brantley, out of Notre Dame Preparatory School in Fitchburg, Mass., and guard/forward Payton Hulsey, a junior college transfer out of Eastern Florida State College to next year’s roster.

The Cougars are also expected to sign Winthrop transfer James Bourne, a 6-8 power forward, a source inside the school’s athletic department confirmed. Bourne, who averaged 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds over his last two seasons with the Eagles, will graduate in May from Winthrop and have one year of eligibility remaining.

Both Brantley and Hulsey will join two early fall signees in point guard Marquise Pointer, out of Jonesboro Senior High School in Jonesboro, Ark., and shooting guard Grant Riller out of Ocoee High School in Ocoee, Fla.

“I think we just got a whole lot better in the last three of four days,” Grant said. “We needed to add some size, some toughness and guys who were not afraid to be physical. I think we’ve done just that with Jarrell and Payton. Jarrell and Payton are great additions to the guys we were able to get in the early signing period.”

Brantley played at Ridge View High before transferring to Notre Dame Prep. He helped lead Notre Dame Prep to the National Prep Championships, and averaged 13 points and eight rebounds per game this past season. Brantley was ranked as the No. 7 overall prospect in Massachusetts and No. 27 overall prospect in New England.

“Jarrell Brantley is very physical and possesses a lot of skill at the power forward position,” Grant said. “He has a great feel for the game and will be able to play inside-and-out, because of his skill set. He is a very good passer and ball-handler and he makes good decisions with the ball. Jarrell plays with a lot of energy and is really aggressive when attacking the basket.”

A native of Memphis, Hulsey is coming off a JUCO season where he averaged nine points, seven rebounds, five assists and 2.5 steals per game as a sophomore at Eastern Florida State College. He previously played at Western Kentucky.

“The minute I got onto campus it felt like home to me,” he said. “It felt like I’d been going to the school my entire career. The coaches and players were great and I knew pretty early on that this is where I wanted to be.”

Prior to playing at Western Kentucky, Hulsey led Southwind High School to the Tennessee Class AAA state championship title in 2013. He finished the title game with 14 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

“Payton is very versatile and is a jack-of-all-trades,” Grant said. “He is really good at attacking the basket and finishing with contact. Payton will be able to play multiple positions, because of his size and skill set. He has a really good IQ and does a good job of creating for himself and his teammates.”

Hulsey will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Cougars.

“Payton is a fantastic get for College of Charleston,” Eastern Florida State College coach Jeremy Shulman. “He is a big, strong and physical guard with incredible versatility. He is a fantastic passer that makes everyone around him better. He is also one of the best rebound guards in the country. In short, Charleston got an elite guard that can help them win their conference.”