NEC Roster Movement Update: 3/14/22
Things will be fast moving in the coming weeks as we will see many players entering the Transfer Portal. If any major players enter the Portal (i.e. an all-conference level guy), then I will probably write something as soon as possible, as I did with Brandon Rush. Otherwise, I'll post these every week or two, depending on how much movement there has been.
This week, we've had five players enter the Transfer Portal:
1) Devon Dunn, Fairleigh Dickinson
2) Jeriah Coleman, St. Francis (PA)
3) Zach Newkirk, Central Connecticut
4) Quest Harris, Sacred Heart
5) Justice Ellison, Central Connecticut
After Brandon Rush, no FDU player played more minutes this season than Dunn; the 2nd year junior played 61.5% of the team's available minutes, though his offensive efficiency dropped this season (44.7% eFG%) as he was asked to be more of a combo-guard after largely being a low-usage shooter (41.4% 3p%, 15.3% usage) as a freshman back in 2019-20. On the season, Dunn was 2nd on FDU in scoring (9.8 ppg), and chipped in nearly 2 assists per game.
A 6'1" 175 lb. guard, Dunn's calling card is the jump shot; in two seasons (44 games), he made 35% of his 223 three-point attempts, and shot 80% from the charity stripe. A killer on a catch-and-shoot (1.07 SQPPP this season, 1.34 as a freshman), Dunn moves well without the basketball and is probably best served filling an off-the-ball role. Similar to Rush, Dunn's defense numbers are not particularly strong; when he was on the floor, FDU allowed 116.2 points/100 possessions in league play, compared to just 103.9 when he was on the bench (according to Hoop-Explorer).
From the DC area, I'd imagine there'd be a D1 opportunity for him somewhere; experienced shooters don't exactly grow on trees, and Dunn had some big moments, such as 24 points at St. John's in November. Given that he opted out of 20-21 due to covid, I believe Dunn has two years of eligibility remaining but I am not positive on that fact (maybe three?).
Where does Greg Herenda go from here? Rising sophomore Oscar Berry is a similar type player (43.4% from three, 15.7% usage) who started 4 of the final 6 games, and Sebastien Lamaute saw significant playing time as a combo-guard as the season went on. I'd expect those two to be next season's starting backcourt unless Herenda brings in someone from the Portal. However, that's now FDU's two highest usage guys off the board.
A 7-foot, 225 lb. big, Coleman saw very limited playing time in two years for the Red Flash, though did get some decent run back in January as Rob Krimmel dealt with a multitude of injuries. As a sophomore this season, Coleman averaged 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game in just over 6 mpg, with his best game coming in a loss at Bryant on January 17th (8 points, 7 boards, and 2 blocks).
In his career, Coleman made 19 of 27 at the rim, and had solid rebounding (27.3% DR%) and block (10.7%) rates. Despite being a 7-footer, Coleman did flash some athleticism and ability to finish around the rim. A rare NEC player from Alaska, I'd imagine a D2 school is a likely next stop.
Coleman is an example of a cautionary tale; mid-major fans have over-rated freshman bigs with significant height for years. I remember back a few years ago when LIU's Ousmane Ndim (7'0") was a popular pick to be the NEC Rookie of the Year. With the way the game is played today, it's really difficult to have the kind of strength and athleticism it takes to be a D1 big while being 6'10"+. This past season, Josh Cohen was the only player listed at 6'10" or taller to be part of a rotation (at least 40% of available minutes), and there were just 5 guys listed at 6'9".
With Mark Flagg graduating, Rob Krimmel will have to find a backup for starting '5' Josh Cohen. It probably makes the most sense to bring in a freshman big or two who can get you 10-15 minutes a night. It should be noted that 6'8" 220 lb. Chukwu Ikediashi, who played just 15 minutes this season, was honored on Senior Night on February 19th, so I'm making the assumption that he will not be returning despite appearing to have some eligibility remaining.
Like Herenda, Krimmel has not utilized the Transfer Portal much in the past. Of last season's rotation, only Marlon Hargis (Holy Cross) began his career at another 4-year school, and Ramiir Dixon-Conover was the only Junior College transfer.
A holdover from the Donyell Marshall era, Newkirk saw his playing time plummet this season from 54.9% in 20-21 to just 21.9%, and he played just 7 minutes in February as Patrick Sellers installed Tre Mitchell as his defensive stopper in the backcourt, and used freshman Joe Ostrowsky as the backup to Nigel Scantlebury at the '1'.
A 6'1" 185 lb. combo-guard, the Raleigh, NC native who played 1 year of JUCO at Brunswick CC made just 27.2% from three in his 3-year career at CCSU (40.8% eFG%), though he was one of the best perimeter defenders Marshall brought to the school. A high-level student, a step-down in level is probably in the cards for Newkirk, who likely would not have been a part of the Blue Devils' rotation in 22-23.
A sophomore, Harris appeared in just 2 games (16 minutes) this season after playing in 12 games (15.4% of minutes) as a freshman. A 5'11", 185 lb. point guard who prepped at Worcester (MA) Academy, Harris was ranked #53 in New England in the class of 2020 by New England Recruiting Report (for comparison purposes; Erickson Bans was #50, Jake Cook #57, Joe Moon #71, Josh Reaves #75, and Bryce Johnson #85), and held additional offers from Bryant, Cleveland St., and Iona. I'd guess Harris will end up at a non-D1 program next season.
The big question for the Pios; does Aaron Clarke return? The All-NEC 3rd teamer played 4 years at SHU and has graduated. Dom Mello, who redshirted as a freshman this past season, is likely the incumbent as the backup PG in 22-23.
A walk-on who, I believe, was injured most of the season, Ellison never appeared in a game for Central Connecticut.
A 6'5", 190 lb. wing, Ellison played at Windsor High, eventually spending a prep year at Woodstock Academy. He had previously committed to Barton Community College before enrolling at CCSU.
Ellison was ranked at the #60 player in CT in 2021, according to New England Recruiting Report. I can't help but wonder if he will go the Junior College route.