LEXINGTON, Va. – VMI head basketball coach Dan Earl has announced the signings of Connor Arnold and Jake Stephens to national letters-of-intent during the early signing period.
Arnold, a 6-7, 205 lb. forward from Knoxville, Tennessee currently attends Beckley (W.Va.) Prep School after graduating in 2017 from Grace Christian Academy. Stephens is a 6-8, 230 lb. center from Bunker Hill, West Virginia and attends Musselman High School.
“We are extremely excited to announce the additions of Connor Arnold and Jake Stephens to our program for the 2018-19 season,” said Earl. “We set out to identify a pair of skillful frontline players that possessed high character and could fit in seamlessly with our program’s culture.”
Arnold scored 1,836 career points in his four years at Grace Christian Academy which stands as the third best mark in school history. As a senior, he averaged 17.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG, shot 55% (246-446) from the floor, 50% in 3 FG% (78-158) and 80% (56-70) from the free throw line. His honors include 2017 District Player of the Year and Region MVP, 2016 Co District Player of the Year, Region MVP, and 2016 1st Team All State, and 2015 All State, All Region, and All District.
“Connor’s versatility and ability to shoot the ball at a high rate make him an ideal forward in our system, said Earl. “He had a tremendous high school career, scoring over 1800 points and leading his team to multiple state tournament appearances. Defensively, he can guard multiple positions and has good length and athleticism. Most important, he is a young man of high character and is a direct reflection of what we want our players to represent in the classroom, on post and in the community.”
Stephens was named 2017 1st Team All-Conference (Eastern Panhandle Athletic Conference), 2017 All Area, and 2017 Third Team All State. As a junior, he averaged 13.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, shot 36% beyond the 3-point arc, and 77% from the free throw line. Stephens has also been named National Honor Society.
“Jake will provide us with a combination of great length in conjunction with a tremendous skill set at the center position,” said Earl. “His feel for the game, passing, and his ability to stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting will make him a valuable asset on the offensive end. As he continues to mature and develop physically, we feel that Jake can be a very good inside presence in the SoCon, as well. He also comes from a winning program, having led his team to the West Virginia Elite 8 in each of his three years on varsity. Outside of basketball, he is an exceptional student and remarkable young man that will be a direct reflection of the Institute’s values.”
In summarizing the signings, Earl added, “We wanted to attract young men that understood the value of a VMI degree and believed in The Institute’s mission. We feel very strongly that we have found that match in Connor and Jake and can’t wait to begin working with them next season. Both of these young men come from great families and have played in outstanding high school and AAU programs. We look forward to continuing to build our program with young men that are accustomed to winning at a high level and share the same values that we do here at VMI.”