Tyler Thomas Enters the Transfer Portal
Poor, Anthony Latina. Time and time again he's been burned by transfers; first it was Cane Broome, and Quincy McKnight, followed by E.J. Anosike, then two years ago it was Cameron Parker and Koreem Ozier. Unfortunately for Latina and the Pios, the hits keep on coming; point guard Aaron Clarke entered the Portal last week, and yesterday it was Tyler Thomas.
Thomas, who finished 6th in the NEC in scoring this past season at 16.4 ppg after leading the league in points per game (19.1) in 2020-21, is coming off back-to-back All-NEC seasons (2nd team in 20-21, 3rd team in 21-22). However, his efficiency numbers did take a bit of a hit this season, and it was largely due to a heavy reliance on the mid-range game. I broke this down in late February, and my main points still stand; Thomas settled for too many 2-point jumpers, didn't attack the rim enough (his free throw rate came way down from last season), and was utilized less frequently in the PnR in favor of Aaron Clarke.
With all that said, Thomas is a really good offensive player; over his last two seasons, the 6'3" wing made 33.5% of his 325 three-pointers, and he's adept at getting to his spots via the dribble. Plus, while I'm not sure he could handle a full-time point guard role like McKnight did when he went to Seton Hall, he's a solid ball-handler who had a 19.6% assist rate in 20-21 and 16.7% assist rate this past season. He's someone who can make plays with the basketball and score it at all three-levels. A New Haven product, Thomas had no other D1 offers out of The Williston Northampton School, rising from little-used freshman to the NEC's Most Improved Player as a sophomore.
Will there be high-major D1 opportunities for Thomas, like there were for Broome (Cincinnati), McKnight (Seton Hall), and Anosike (Tennessee)? It's important to remember that Broome and McKnight transferred prior to the Transfer Portal becoming as big of a thing as it currently is, and Anosike didn't get much playing time at UT before transferring to Cal St. Fullerton. Also; when Broome and McKnight left there wasn't a glut of players with a 5th year of eligibility. As it currently stands, the Portal is packed with D1 and D2 players looking for other opportunities, as well as a number of Junior College players who didn't have a lot of options out of high school due to covid. Recent Fairleigh Dickinson out-transfer Brandon Rush, who is a relatively decent comp for Thomas as a high-scoring wing with two years of eligibility remaining, ended up at Youngstown St., which finished #259 at Kenpom this past season and is a middling program in the Horizon League. A relatively modest jump in profile, though it remains to be seen what his minutes and usage will look like.
As for Sacred Heart; Anthony Latina is in a rough spot having to replace his two leading scorers, and best offensive players, while also having to upgrade a defense that placed dead last in the NEC. While there's still a possibility either could return (especially Clarke), I wouldn't expect the SHU staff to wait around as all three of their starting guards are now either in the Portal or have exhausted their eligibility (Alex Watson). Joey Reilly and Mike Sixsmith have been solid role players in their college careers, while redshirt freshman Dom Mello should be a quality young guard next season. However, I'd expect the Pios to look towards the Portal to bring in some experience at both guards spot, as well as try to find some rim protection, though Latina does have a pair of 6'8" bigs (Raymond Espinal-Guzman and Najee Coursey) who redshirted last season and might be options in the frontcourt alongside Nico Galette and Bryce Johnson.
It's also worth noting; I'm not sure any NEC program develops players as well as Anthony Latina and his staff. The guys who have transferred from SHU weren't major recruits who knocked it out of the park for a few seasons then left. They were raw, but talented, lightly recruited prospects who developed their games while at Sacred Heart. Thomas and Anosike were both NEC MIPs, while Broome won the NEC's Player of the Year as a sophomore. It's unfortunate that their player development process has resulted in this number of transfers, but that's the nature of the mid-major landscape at this point.