LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Bellarmine University will begin the season ranked No. 4 in NCAA Division II by The Sporting News and No. 5 by Division II Bulletin.
But expectations may have just gotten a little higher. Scott Davenport has added a last-minute recruit who could have immediate impact.
Donnie Hale, a 6-8 transfer from Purdue University, will become eligible at the semester break after announcing his departure from West Lafayette in late September. He comes to Bellarmine after two seasons at Purdue, including a redshirt season in 2011-12, as well as a season at Bridgton Prep.
Hale is best known around here for his storied career at New Albany High School, where he twice was an All-Stater and made the Indiana All-Star team in 2010. In four years at New Albany, the Bulldogs went 89-9, won two sectional titles and a regional title. He averaged 18 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks as a senior after averaging 19.7 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks a game as a junior.
And he fits into a role that is especially valuable at the Division II level -- a polished big man with a good scoring touch around the basket.
Moreover, he seems cut out of a mold that Knights coach Scott Davenport has used to great success during his time at Bellarmine -- a Southern Indiana High School product coming back home to try to do something memorable.
"We are thrilled to have Donnie Hale become part of the Bellarmine basketball family," Davenport said. "He is a first rate quality player coming to us from a first-class program at Purdue. I have followed his career since he was a sophomore at New Albany when Braydon Hobbs was a senior. He went on to become their number two all-time rebounder, their number three all-time scoring leader in addition to becoming a two-time all-state performer in Indiana. One of his greatest strengths is he is a winner on and off the court."
Hale played in 32 games at Purdue as a freshman, and started eight. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game. In the Boilermakers' season opener against Bucknell last season, Hale scored 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting and had four rebounds. Against Villanova in Madison Square Garden, he had 11 points and a team-best six rebounds.
"Once I decided to transfer, I knew I wanted to go to Bellarmine," Hale said in a release from the school. "I got to know Coach Davenport while he was recruiting Braydon, and we talked a lot while I was still in high school. I feel really comfortable at Bellarmine. I know the players and it's a great culture. I think it's a perfect fit for me."
Davenport has a talented group of newcomers joining the program this season. Rusty Troutman out of Bullitt East High School is expected to have an immediate impact. Tanner Gibson, a 6-2 guard from Zanesville, Ohio, has transferred in from Albany. The Knights also bring in Josh Derkson, a 6-9 freshman from Australia.
That group will revolve around the leadership of seniors Vance Hall and Keisten Jones. Davenport says Hale has fit right in.
"I have been very impressed with Donnie and his entire family throughout this process," Davenport said. "He has been very mature and responsible to his family and our staff. I am very anxious to have him join this year's team. I am equally proud of our players and their tremendous reaction to him joining our team. They truly have our program's best interest at heart and that is why they are very special young men."
The Knights open exhibition play at Cincinnati on Saturday night.