Tulane’s basketball team received its first commitment of the 2014-15 signing class Tuesday, receiving a pledge from power forward Taron Oliver Jr.
The 6-foot-9, 240-pounder is expected to add a much-needed boost of length and power to the Green Wave’s 2015-16 roster and was a priority for fifth-year coach Ed Conroy.
Rated a three-star prospect by ESPN, the Washington, D.C., native starred at Ball High School as a freshman and sophomore, averaging 13.4 points per game, before transferring to basketball powerhouse Montrose Christian Academy in Maryland.
Despite taking on a smaller role as a junior, averaging just 6.7 points and 6.1 rebounds for Montrose Christian, Oliver pulled in scholarship offers from South Florida, Rhode Island, LaSalle, Wake Forest and Florida Gulf Coast, while receiving heavy interest from Virginia and Indiana.
However, Tulane ended up with him.
“Oliver is a low post player with excellent size. He runs the floor pretty well and can score with his back to the basket,” ESPN’s scouting report says. “Oliver has excellent hands, footwork, feel, touch and patience around the rim. He is a pretty good passer and a very good area rebounder on both ends of the floor.”
He joins a Green Wave roster littered with inexperience in the post. Outside of senior Tre Drye (who will be gone by the time Oliver arrives), no power forward or center has logged significant minutes or averaged more than one point per game.
“Getting a chance to play early was very important to him,” said Oliver’s father, Taron Oliver Sr. “Tulane’s style of the chance to get on the court was a big part of the equation. He wants to get in there and make a difference and the way things are at Tulane, he thought he could do that.”
Landing Oliver also allows Tulane to pursue two of its other top prospects.
Four-star shooting guard Jacob Carter from St. Michael took an official visit to New Orleans on Sept. 6, but is also being pursued heavily by Auburn and Cinicinnati. Swingman Kipper Nichols out of Lakewood, Ohio, visited Tulane on Sept. 27, and the three-star, 6-foot-6 prospect also holds offers from Xavier, Clemson and Dayton.
Tulane has at least two scholarships available for the upcoming signing class.
“Tulane has a lot to offer now, no matter where you’re from,” Oliver Sr. said. “They’re going to be on TV almost every game, nationally, and that gets you seen. They have a great staff in place, and he felt it just the perfect place for him, and I agreed.”