Bobcats Sign Mears, Rucker, Painter


(Dalton, GA) – Just a little over two months removed from a stellar senior campaign at GHSA 7-AAAA power Dalton (GA), the trio of Rico Mears, Demond Rucker, and Brandon Painter agreed to take their games to NJCAA Region XVII program, Georgia Northwestern.

The Catamounts ended their 2012-13 drive with a 19-9 overall mark, 8-2 in their region. The three incoming freshman at Georgia Northwestern had been friends on and off the hardwood, years before they ever took their games to the prep level. The first time they played together was in eighth grade.

Rucker and Mears were named All-Region honorees for their play last year. “The chemistry they are going to walk into our workouts with is something I can’t teach,” said Georgia Northwestern Men’s Head Basketball Coach David Stephenson. “Being in a competitive JUCO region, chemistry can take time. In a two-year program, that is very precious time. This is a plus for us.”

“We’ve played together for years,” said Rucker. “We know each other’s tendencies. It’s just second nature knowing where they are on the court at any given time. It’s a chemistry that usually takes a lot of time. We really feel we have that right now.” The 6-foot-4, 207-pound incoming freshman plans to study Psychology.

Stephenson is looking for the chance to turn Rucker into a pivotal piece of the NJCAA Region XVII puzzle. “We have been looking for a solid three man to take that slasher role for us,” said Stephenson. “Demond may have the skill set that we’ve been looking for.” With the loss of Bobcat grads 6-foot-5 Alex Miller (Calhoun, GA) and 6-foot-5 Bud Todd (Trion, GA), the two-year program has set its sights on filling key positions with promising recruits.

“Demond was a huge inside presence for us. He’s the kind of kid that can play 15-feet from the basket. That made him very tough to contain,” said Dalton Head Boy’s Basketball Coach Mike Duffie. “He brings great energy and work ethic around the basket. Georgia Northwestern truly has a diamond in the rough with Demond. The Bobcats are built for this kind of a player. Demond is ready for this opportunity.”

The signee that has caught the eye of many from Catamount country is 5-foot-10, 175-pound guard, Rico Mears. “He is a terrific on-the-ball defender. He’s strong,” said Duffie who will be going into his eighth year of coaching Catamount basketball this next season. “He was one of our second-leading rebounders at 5-foot-10, led us in steals, and has truly mastered a lost art form. The young man can simply nail 12-foot jumpers.”

Guard play has been up and down for the Bobcats during the last two years due to injuries. “For us, we really feel that finding a true tough and gritty defender at the guard slot is becoming harder and harder to do,” said Stephenson. “I believe Rico truly brings that to the floor.” Mears plans on studying within the criminal justice and forensic science field. Mears received All-Region honors the last two seasons he wore the Red and White of Dalton.

The final piece of the Dalton trio is Brandon Painter. The soon-to-be Dalton High School grad said of the three Bobcat signees that they are ready to pick up where they left off this past February. “Can’t wait to see the better competition, the next level,” said the future 6-foot-1 Bobcat. “Getting to take it all in. Hitting it head on with these guys is going to be a lot of fun. With the success we found this past season, it should be interesting.”

Painter plans to major in Business on the collegiate level. “He’s got a great head for the game,” said Stephenson. “He’ll be a piece of our program that we’ll be watching very carefully. He’s capable of anything.”

Open workout and tryout dates for Georgia Northwestern Intercollegiate Basketball are found at

For more information on Bobcats Athletics at Georgia Northwestern Technical College, contact the Office of Sports Information at 706.764.3813 or by e-mail to Georgia Northwestern Technical College is the largest college in Northwest Georgia educating more than 10,000 students every year. GNTC offers more than 200 programs on five different campuses and online throughout the year.