Even without playing a game yet this season, the men’s basketball team is already improving.

Local New Haven high school star Casey Hughes and Arizona native John Shumate have agreed to attend Yale as members of the Class of 2007. They join Worcester Academy’s Sam Kaplan and Princeton transfer Dominick Martin ’05 as new additions to an already deep lineup.

Since Yale does not offer athletic scholarships, Eli prospects do not sign letters of intent and the oral agreements are nonbinding.

Head coach James Jones is forbidden by NCAA regulations to comment on recruits until they are admitted and decide to matriculate at Yale.

Hughes announced his decision at an Oct. 15 press conference at Hamden Hall High School in Hamden, Conn. The 6-foot-5-inch, 185-pound shooting guard will likely be a wing in Yale’s offense.

Bud Kohler, Hamden Hall’s athletic director, said Hughes was “very interested” in Princeton and also considered the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell. Kent State — which advanced to the Elite Eight in last season’s NCAA Tournament — offered Hughes an athletic scholarship, but Hughes was intent on going to an Ivy League school, Kohler said.

“It was definitely between Princeton and Yale,” Kohler said. “He was going back and forth, back and forth.”

Kohler said Hughes chose Yale to be close to home and because of the Bulldogs’ free-flowing offense. Princeton’s system centers on backdoor cuts and half-court sets.

“Casey [Hughes] is more of an up-tempo kind of player,” Kohler said.

Kohler said Hamden Hall rarely sends graduates to Division I-A teams, but approximately 10 percent of its graduates do participate in collegiate athletics.

“It’s very exciting for the school,” Kohler said. “It’s a neat thing for a little school like us to be able to say, ‘He went here.'”

Hamden Hall coach David Beckerman, the founder of Starter Sportswear Corp., was overseas and unavailable for comment. Hughes also could not be reached for comment.

Hughes’ future teammate, Shumate, is the son of the former Notre Dame star and Phoenix Suns’ forward of the same name, John Shumate. The father played in the NBA for seven years and was named head coach of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury Wednesday.

The younger Shumate — 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 190 pounds — will look to fill the point guard slot vacated after men’s captain Chris Leanza ’03 graduates this spring.

At Brophy Prep in Phoenix, Shumate averaged 13 points, three rebounds and four assists per game for the Broncos. Brophy coach Mark Granger said Shumate chose Yale over Ivy League rivals Princeton and Harvard, as well as Bucknell and Tulane.

Granger said Shumate’s greatest strength is his basketball IQ.

“It’s like having a coach out on the floor,” he said.

Granger, who has coached for 13 years, said Shumate is the hardest-working player he has ever coached.

“It’s a good fit,” Granger said of Shumate’s decision to come to Yale. “I’m incredibly proud of John [Shumate].”

Shumate, Hughes, and Kaplan will try to offset the departure of graduating seniors Leanza, power forward Ime Archibong, and center T.J. McHugh.