NEC Off-Season Update: 6/6/22
It's been a few weeks, and there's a few good reasons. However, it's primarily due to the fact that, every time I was ready to publish an NEC off-season update, Tobin Anderson would add another player to the FDU roster.
Since things were quiet this past weekend, let's take a quick ride around the league.
Both Anderson and Donald Copeland (Wagner) announced their coaching staffs. What's notable is that FDU is back to having three paid assistant coaches after playing last year with just two, while Copeland brought Pete Lappas over from FDU.
A few other tidbits:
I've heard that Owen Chose, who was Stonehill's 2nd leading scorer last season at 14.7ppg, is graduating and pursuing a professional career overseas. You can see my Google Sheet with current projected rotations, transfers, and coaching staffs here.
Former CCSU forward Trenton McLaughlin, who had a strong argument for All-Rookie team honors last season, has landed at Northern Arizona. NAU is about 45 minutes from Chandler, AZ, where McLaughlin is from, and I'd imagine the pull to get closer to home was a real one.
Former Merrimack guard Mikey Watkins committed to UMass-Lowell. Watkins has one year of eligibility remaining, and given that Merrimack remains ineligible for post-season play, having an opportunity to play in the post-season was probably a factor in his transfer.
Oscar Berry, who left FDU after Anderson was hired, committed to North Florida.
There's still been no official word on the status of Long Island's Isaac Kante. However, his inclusion in this tweet leads me to believe he's back. I'm keeping him on the Google Sheet until we see anything announced.
So far, 12 of the 27 NEC players who have entered the Transfer Portal (excluding Andre Snoddy, who returned to CCSU) have committed elsewhere. Ten of them have committed to other D1 institutions (all low/mid-major), one to D2, and a third to a JUCO.
The top NEC transfers remaining in the Portal, in no particular order, are; Ian Krishnan (CCSU), Mikey Square and Anquan Hill (FDU), and Patrick Emilien (SFC).
Rather than "Comings" and "Goings", let's go team-by-team since the Knights' page over at Verbal Commits has been updated quite frequently over the last few weeks. It's also worth noting; FDU is the 1st NEC program to update their roster to reflect 22-23, though it doesn't yet include a few of the newcomers.
First, four rising sophomores have entered the Transfer Portal over the last couple of weeks: Anquan Hill, Ibrahim Wattara, Antoine Jacks, and Ray Ford, Jr. Those three join Devon Dunn (Campbell), Brandon Rush (Youngstown St.), Oscar Berry (North Florida), and Mikey Square (undecided) as Knights who have left since the season ended.
The headliner here is Anquan Hill, who was the NEC's Rookie of the Year after averaging 7.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. However, the numbers kind of under-sell what he was able to do; prior to January 1st, Hill played just 37% of the team's minutes and wasn't particularly effective when he was on the floor. In league play, though, he blossomed while putting up a 111.2 O-Rating (18.2%) usage thanks to shooting 50.1% on twos, 8 of 20 from deep, and posting strong rebounding (17.8% on the defensive end) and block (3%) rates. Listed at 6'9", 195 lbs., Hill has a lot of work to do in the weight room, however given his combination of length and offensive skill, he should be in high demand. Hill is from Philly. Could he follow former FDU assistant Pete Lappas, a Philly guy, to Wagner?
Ibrahim Wattara is a 6'5" 215 lb. physical wing from the Bronx who had some moments as a freshman, including 12 points and 5 boards at Northwestern in November. Wattara likes to use his length and athleticism to get to the rim where he made 51.1% of his opportunities, however the jump shot is still in development; he attempted just six 3-pointers, and shot 57.6% from the charity stripe.
Antoine Jacks, a 5'10" point guard from Maryland, struggled to find consistent playing time as a freshman, and when he did he really had a tough time shooting the ball, posting a 35.1% eFG% (4 of 18 from deep). Jacks is a good passer who seemed comfortable in the open floor, and is also a solid defensive player.
Ray Ford, Jr., a 6'2" shooting guard from Jersey City, saw limited playing time as a freshman (just 13.6% of minutes), shooting 2 for 13 from the field (0 for 4 from three). FDU was his only offer out of Saint Peter's Prep.
While those three are gone, Anderson has quickly rebuild his backcourt by bringing in a Junior College wing (Heru Bligen), as well as three players over from St. Thomas Aquinas (Demetre Roberts, Grant Singleton, and Sean Moore). He's also added a big wing in JUCO forward Kerwin Prince and a high school prospect.
Demetre Roberts, who played 4 years for Anderson at STAC, was first team All-ECC three times, and last season led the team in scoring (17.1 ppg) and assists (5.1 apg). A 5'8" scoring guard, Roberts shot .471/.347/.896 and put up a 2.1 Assist:TO ratio while acting as Anderson's floor general. I'd expect him to step in and immediately be a high usage scoring point guard. A Mount Vernon native, Roberts was also the ECC Tournament's MOP.
Grant Singleton, who also played four years at STAC, earned 2nd-team All-ECC honors last season after putting up 11.4 points and 3.5 assists per game. Though he struggled to shoot it from the perimeter (27.4%), he was a 93% free throw shooter and averaged over two steals per game while matching Roberts' 2.1 A:TO ratio.
Heru Bligen, a 6'3" 190 lb. wing, played a year at Garden City CC where he averaged 15.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 48.3% overall. Originally from Maryland, Bligen started his collegiate career at Longwood where he played two seasons, averaging 5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 17 mpg. Bligen has good size for a wing, and likes to use his physicality to get to the rim. What he's not is a 3-point shooter; at Longwood he made just 9 of 29 in two seasons, and last season he was 0 for 8. He should fill up the stat sheet and do a little bit of everything on both sides of the ball for FDU.
Kerwin Prince, who hails from Waterbury, CT, is a long and strong 6'6" 225 lb. forward who averaged 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game at Dodge City Community College. Prince, who began his career at D2 Mercy College where he averaged 19.6 points and 11.4 rebounds, was the ECC Rookie of the Year in 20-21 and had a few other D1 offers (Western Illinois, UMKC, Louisiana-Monroe). Prince doesn't stretch the defense (3 for 11 from deep in two collegiate seasons), but he did shoot 61% from the field at Garden City CC, and really fits Tobin Anderson's up-tempo system as a versatile defender who is comfortable out in the open floor.
Sean Moore, a 6'6" big wing who played for Anderson at STAC, has three years of eligibility remaining. Long and athletic, Moore shot just .351/.262/.500 as a red-shirt freshman, but was a major asset on the defensive end, and should be able to guard multiple positions.
Jo'el Emanuel, a 6'7" big wing from The Millbrook School, signed with FDU after previously committing to Anderson at STAC. Bouncy and long, Emanuel has the chance to develop into a face-up 4 who provides defensive versatility.
The Stonehill staff continues to add length; in addition to D2 transfer Max Zegarowski and former William & Mary wing Thatcher Stone, Chris Kraus added D1 transfer Nathan McClure and D2 transfer Cole Bergan.
Nathan McClure, who played two seasons at IUPUI after transferring in from State Fair CC. is a 6'4" 175 lb. wing wholooksadfasdfa will be on his 4th stop as he spent a red-shirt season at Texas St. before going the JUCO route. McClure averaged 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds for IUPUI last season, making nearly 34% of his 86 3P attempts. However, he really struggled in other areas offensively; he shot below 40% at the rim (42% overall inside the arc), and had 53 turnovers against 32 assists on the year. A true 3&D wing with 2 years of eligibility remaining, McClure should see significant minutes on the wing while providing the Skyhawks with some much needed thump from behind the arc, as well as Division 1 experience.
Cole Bergan, a 6'7" 220 lb. forward from Northern State, averaged 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game last season. From Aberdeen, SD, Bergan began his career at Northern Colorado (D1), where he earned limited minutes as a freshman, then played in 1 game as a sophomore (10 minutes at Texas) before leaving the program and signing with Northern St. mid-way through that season. A stretchy-4, Bergan shot just 42% from the field in 21-22, though did show an ability to stretch the defense (19 of 71 from three) and is a willing/capable passer.
Patrick Sellers nabbed his third D1 transfer of the season, adding forward Kellen Amos from Binghamton.
Listed at 6'7" 190 lbs. Amos received inconsistent playing time in 2 years at Binghamton, averaging 6.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1 assist in about 14 mpg in 2021-22. However, he showed guard skills, and last season he took a step forward from the perimeter (20 of 62) while putting up very strong rebounding (16.9%), block (4%), and assist (15.7%) rates. He struggled to make free throws (19 of 32), and despite his size he takes most of his shots away from the rim (just 19 attempts at the rim, compared to 37 mid-rangers and 32 3-pointers).
A true 3&D guy with 3 years of eligibility remaining, Amos has the length and quickness to defend smaller wings (he did a nice job on SHU's Tyler Thomas last November), and will likely play both the 3 & 4 at CCSU. Seven of the Blue Devils' 12 current scholarship players are listed at 6'6" or taller, and Amos, Andre Snoddy (6'6") and Brody Limric (6'9") should provide significant versatility on both sides of the ball as "big wings".
Donald Copeland added his first two players as a head coach in Jeremiah Kendall and Lavell Brodnex.
Kendall is a 6'6" 205 lb. wing who spent his sophomore season at Prairie View A&M where he averaged 5.7 points and 4.1 rebounds in 15.5 minutes per game. Kendall, who is more of a frontcourt player than a true wing, put up a strong 13.1% offensive rebounding rate, and also had a solid DR% (16.7%). He was efficient around the rim (56%), and shot the ball well from the free throw line (37 for 47) though only attempted one three-pointer. Kendall, who began his college career at Tallahassee CC where he was the Panhandle Conference Newcomer of the Year, has two years of eligibility remaining. It's worth noting that Bashir Mason's Wagner staff had previously offered Kendall out of JUCO back in March 2021.
Brodnex is a 6'5" wing who spent a year at Murray St. College (JUCO) where he averaged 14.3 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting .477/.258/.762, earning a spot on the Region 2 All-Freshman Team. Originally from Saginaw, MI with three years of eligibility remaining, Brodnex should be able to provide scoring and length on the wing.
Glenn Braica received a commitment from high school senior Michael Myrie. A Gaithersburg, MD product who prepped at The Winchendon School, Myrie is a physical point guard who had interest from a number of schools, though his only other D1 offer came from Hofstra. Given that Rob Higgins is the only returning Terrier who had an assist rate higher than 13%, Myrie should compete for minutes at the '1' right from the get-go.