NEC Roster Movement Update: 4/13/21
What a wild time it's been for the Northeast Conference. Every time I think I've got my next update wrapped up, something else drops. Let's hit the big news in bullet form:
Last week it was announced that Stonehill College is joining the Northeast Conference as a full member, replacing Bryant which is joining the America East. The Skyhawks finished 15-12 overall last season, 10-9 in the Northeast-10 Conference, which put them 4th in the "Northeast Division". Head Coach Chris Kraus just finished his 9th season at the helm, earning three NCAA Division 2 Tournament bids and winning the NCAA East Regional in 2016, which was the program's third Elite Eight in ten years. Kraus played at Stonehill from 2002-2006 (another NEC coach younger than me, *sigh*), and earned All NE-10 honors in 2006. He also was an assistant coach at Stonehill before being elevated to head coach.
Bashir Mason is leaving Wagner to become the head coach at Saint Peter's, which had a magical run to the Elite 8 as a 15-seed last month. Former head coach Shaheen Holloway is now at Seton Hall. It's been reported that Mason got a pay increase over what he was making at Wagner.
Today it was reported that former Seton Hall player, and current assistant coach, Donald Copeland will become the next head coach of Wagner. Copeland was an assistant at Wagner from 2017 through 2021. I'd imagine Copeland's first order of business will be to try and retain impressive young talents such as DeLonnie Hunt and Zaire Williams.
Raheem Soloman and Brendan McGuire (Sacred Heart)
A 6'3" wing, Solomon played three seasons at Niagara where he averaged 8.7 points and 3 rebounds per game, shooting nearly 36% from deep. A true 3&D wing, Solomon should instantly improve Anthony Latina's defense while giving the Pios a potential high usage scorer (101 O-Rating on 25.9% usage in 20-21). Solomon has struggled with consistency through his career, but he has the potential to get hot from beyond the arc (he scored 38 points in two MAAC tourney games back in March 2021). A potential concern; in his last year at Niagara, he made just 13 of 41 at the rim.
Solomon, who did not play last season and was not listed on Niagara's roster, played at Sacred Heart High School in nearby Waterbury (the school permanently closed a couple of years ago) and should have two years of eligibility remaining.
McGuire, who comes to Sacred Heart after playing three seasons at Quinnipiac, is a 6'7" versatile forward who averaged 4.7 points and 2.4 rebounds last season. A New Jersey native, McGuire didn't play a ton of QU this past season, just 33.3% of minutes (54% as a true sophomore), but is a very good passer who has a career 24.9% assist rate. He made just 6 of 23 from three in 21-22, however as a sophomore he made 19 of 42 (45.2%).
Another player who should have two years of eligibility remaining, McGuire is described as a "jack of all trades" who profiles as a guy who can be a "big wing" while playing alongside Nico Galette, and could also be a "small ball 4". A play-maker with size, Anthony Latina could look to utilize McGuire in a similar way that Jared Grasso used Luis Hurtado.
That's now three MAAC players who have committed to Sacred Heart (in addition to Siena's Aidan Carpenter), all of whom have at least two years of eligibility remaining, and all should see time on the wing. With Mike Sixsmith and Joey Reilly also expected to return, there's a lot of depth and versatility in the backcourt.
I still wonder if Anthony Latina will continue to be active in the Transfer Portal. Finding a point guard to replace Aaron Clarke, as well as a rim protecting big, appear to be the areas of need at this point.
Andre Snoddy, Trenton McLaughlin, and Tre Mitchell (Central Connecticut)
Man, was last Wednesday a rough morning:
Andre Snoddy, a 6'6" 210 lb. physical wing/grab-and-go-4, led the Blue Devils in rebounding (7.1 per game), was 3rd in scoring (8.0 ppg), and paced the team in minutes (70.7%). A Long Island native who prepped at St. Thomas More, Snoddy primarily played the '4' as a freshman but showed an ability to be a point forward given his ability to both pass and handle the basketball, and provided plenty of defensive versatility as a guy who could defend 1-4. You don't see his level of physicality and quickness in the NEC very often.
Trenton McLaughlin, a 6'6" 190 lb. sharp-shooter, was 5th on the team in minutes played (50.7%), averaging nearly 6 points and 3 boards per game. A Chandler, AZ native, McLaughlin made nearly 40% of his 93 three-point attempts, and was Snoddy's primary back-up at the '4'.
In my opinion, these were the first two true 'shockers' of the Transfer season; sure, SHU's Tyler Thomas was pretty surprising, but we've seen plenty of examples of 3rd year players who put up big numbers looking to get to a more prestigious school/conference. However, I'm not sure either Snoddy or McLaughlin are true "up-transfer" candidates.
Snoddy, who reportedly has interest from a number of America East and MAAC schools, is a non-shooting wing (0 for 8 from three) who turned it over a ton (25.7%). As I had written many times; he has the potential to develop into an All-Conference type player at this level, but the shot has to come around. What's more; he was able to use his physicality to his advantage in the NEC, and I'm not sure he'd do that in a conference that's not considered a "low-major".
McLaughlin is a true "tweener"; he doesn't quite have the size to play the '4' (12.8% DR%) and he lacks the quickness to be anything more than adequate while defending wings. His calling card is his shooting ability, and while it's an elite skill, he doesn't provide much else. Like with Snoddy, he's more "prospect" than finished product right now.
Mitchell played two years at CCSU after playing two years at Phoenix College (JUCO). A 6'3" wing, Mitchell was one of the Blue Devils' best players in 20-21, finishing third on the team in scoring (9.4 ppg) while putting up a 103 O-Rating (19% usage) and a 51% eFG%. However, after entering the Transfer Portal when Donyell Marshall was let go then returning to play for Pat Sellers, his second season in New Britain wasn't as good offensively; his eFG% was just 38.4% thanks to making just 30% from beyond the arc and 12 of 34 at the rim. He did get significant playing time (57.1% of minutes), and was lauded as the team's best perimeter defender. I'd guess Mitchell will end up back out west (he's from Phoenix), though it remains to be seen how many D1 opportunities there will be given the saturated transfer market.
What looked like a promising rebuild after Patrick Sellers' first season at the helm of his alma mater has taken an ugly turn; four of their top 5 in terms of minutes are currently in the Transfer Portal (Ian Krishnan is the other), and Nigel Scantlebury is the only player currently on the roster who played more than 25% of available minutes and had an O-Rating better than '90'.
Sellers has been active in the Portal, offering scholarships to a pair of teammates from D2 St. Cloud St., but so far he's yet to get a commitment. I'd expect him to go after multiple transfers.
James Berry III (Merrimack)
Berry played two years at Merrimack, appearing in just 20 games. A 6'5" 175 lb. sharp-shooter, Berry is a Maryland native who made 8 of 20 from beyond the arc.