Youngblood, Haynes make home debut with Cougars

Sean Joseph

Cuyahoga Falls Cougars vs. Columbus Cyclones

Where? Cuyahoga Falls High School – 2300 4th Street

When? 7:15 p.m. tomorrow

How much? $5 at the door, $1 parking

Kent State hoops fans who did not get enough of watching men’s basketball seniors DeAndre Haynes and Jay Youngblood this season now have to opportunity to see them play right down state Route 59 in Cuyahoga Falls.

Before they have even graduated from the university or signed with agents, Haynes and Youngblood have started their professional basketball careers with the International Basketball League’s Cuyahoga Falls Cougars.

Haynes and Youngblood signed contracts that allow them to leave whenever another opportunity comes up. Both players said they are looking for agents, and Youngblood said he expects to sign with one next week.

The Cougars hosted a press conference yesterday, three games into the season, to announce the signings of three new athletes, including Rob Preston, a former center from crosstown rival Akron.

“Kent State and Akron are used to being rival teams and every year being a battle,” said Haynes, who had not gotten the chance to practice with Preston yet. “Now we have to combine to be one unit. He’s very athletic and seems like a great guy. Last month we were enemies on the court. Now, we have to be friends on and off.”

Youngblood said he practiced with Preston Wednesday and saw parts of his game he had not seen all season, such as his ability to jump for the ball.

Youngblood said he plans to play in Cuyahoga Falls as long as he’s in Kent. He is set to graduate in August.

Haynes said he does not know if he will finish out the season with the Cougars. If he signs with an agent, he may be taking trips overseas to look for prospective teams.

“I want to be able to get a lot of experience and looks (from scouts) out of it,” Haynes said. “It’s a good thing just to be playing after college. They have a great team, and I’ll have another opportunity to play with Jay (Youngblood) and hopefully Kevin (Warzynski) and Nate (Gerwig).”

Warzynski and Gerwig have both been offered contracts with the Cougars but have not accepted yet. Haynes said he thinks Gerwig will sign, but wasn’t sure about Warzynski.

Last year, former Kent State player Jason Edwin played in the IBL, and Youngblood said he is familiar with the team because he came to watch him play several times. Edwin has since moved overseas to Germany.

Cougars coach Lee Cotton said he scouted at Kent State and Akron all last season. He said he did not know if it would work out to sign Haynes and Youngblood so soon and expected them to play for him next season.

“Anytime you can add quality talent, especially like this, to your team, it’s definitely a plus,” Cotton said. “They add a different dimension to the team and will take us to another level. They come from great coaches and have the ability to jump right in.”

Cotton said he looks forward to Haynes being able to lead the team. During the press conference, Cotton described Haynes as a “great field general” who passes up a shot to get his teammates open and creates opportunities for everyone.

Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart spoke at the press conference and said he was excited for the effect Haynes’ and Youngblood’s presence would have on the city.

“I don’t pretend to follow every college basketball game every quarter, but I know the name DeAndre Haynes,” Robart said. “This team is real. They’re excited. They’re driven and they’re here for the long haul.”

Contact men’s basketball reporter Sean Joseph at [email protected].