By John Powell, Asst. Sports Editor

Recruiting is possibly the most important aspect of college sports. I have seen high schools recruit, but when a significant portion of league funds is divided to member schools based on performance, it becomes more important.

During this time of the year, recruiting is of high importance for George Mason University fans. I assume that most people reading this column are fans of the National Football League and would have watched the Washington Redskins draft the most athletic offensive lineman from college football.

Well, everyone can take the important qualities from their mock draft into account when they see what the Patriots’ men’s basketball team needs next year.

First of all, and most importantly, the team has successfully recruited point guard Bryon Allen. He comes to the Patriots after considering other schools like Siena and George Washington. As much as I love our men’s basketball team, the staff would have had to make quite an offer to pull Allen away from those schools. Allen is ranked as the 43rd-best point guard in this year’s recruiting class with a score of 90.

Because of his skill and 215 pounds of court dominance, I believe the offer was, as I have said before, to make him a walk-on starter. At very least he would be coming off the bench with a lot of minutes next season until his numbers showed his potential as a starter.

The only player the team lost was Louis Birdsong, who exhausted his total years of eligibility playing for the team.

Honestly, I was a bit surprised that after losing only one player, and getting back players that were lost to injury last season, that the team would recruit any more players.

But they proved me wrong.

Jonathan Aldridge from Kamit Institute was the second, and currently the last, player recruited by the team. He will be one of the biggest players on the court, standing at six-foot-nine-inches although he is a bit lanky at only 220 pounds. It must be something to be more than 200 pounds and be considered lanky.

He considered other schools as well, as is expected, including Temple and conference rival VCU. He is not replacing anyone as far as I see, coming in as a center. He is ranked well, as is Allen, with a grade of 88, placing him as the 34th-best center in this year’s recruiting class.

So what is there to expect from the team next season?

The first thing to expect is that star player Cam Long will have a better year than his 2009-10 season. While this last season saw him score in great streaks, I believe he will be better and more consistent in his senior season.

The reason I believe this is because near the end of the season, Long went on a stretch where his shooting was near the 25-percent mark and will practice to improve that mark. Some will be quick to say that he did not get many open looks at the basket, but that does not account for those shooting numbers from the star of the team.

Everyone knew that he could make free throws when he needed to, as he did as part of the effort to send the VCU game to the overtime win, but he needs to be the dominant factor that his team and his fans can rely on.

Secondly, I saw some underclassmen with breakout games, especially Luke Hancock, who was the gracious recipient of the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week award. Everyone can expect these guys to create a balanced offense next season, spearheaded by Long.

Finally, these new recruits, especially Allen, should prove to be a needed spark en route to a good year.