RMCMB/NECMBB offseason run down

–Lee Kunkel
–@Kunkel5

Can you believe it? July is almost over. Only about a month left before the dorms and classrooms will fill up on the campus of Bobby Mo. With that, another step closer to the NCAA basketball season. Compared to the past few off seasons, it’s been pretty quiet. There have been a few transfers around the league, but nothing too shocking. Schedules are leaking out slowly (including Robert Morris).

For the first time in a long time, there were not any coaching changes in the league, (nor any teams leaving after Quinnipiac and Monmouth left a year ago). This is probably the biggest reason that the league had a relatively stable offseason. Andy Toole and Jamion Christian both had their name attached to a few vacancies but both ended up staying put. Each will have a team capable of getting back to the NCAA tournament, and neither had an offer that was too appealing to pry them away from the two top programs in the NEC last season.

Jones will look to lead the Colonials
in 2014-2015 (p/c Post Gazette).

The guys over at NYC Buckets broke down the NEC transfers this off season. Give it a read. There were a few small surprises, and Wagner was probably hurt the most. They lost lengthy big man Mario Moody and sharp shooter Jay Harris. Both would have been starters from the Seahawks, who lost quite a bit of talent to graduation as well.

EJ Reed of LIU was maybe the biggest surprise. Reed, an athletic forward with solid skill, was a major part of the Blackbird attack last year, and was expected to once again been a top tier option for LIU. Reed is heading to the DII level.

As for the Colonials, three players have moved on, but none are too surprising. Britton Lee and Jeremiah Worthem were dismissed from school in January, and neither will return. They would have had to sit out the entire first semester before they could even step foot back on campus, so they likely would not have been able to play for RMU much at all this season. Worthem is no doubt a tough loss, as he had NEC POY written all over him and would have been a major part of the team this season. 

Desjuan Newton also left the team, but he also did not play for RMU in 2014 after stepping away from the team after Christmas. Worthem and Lee are at Junior College this season and could be back at the D1 level in 2016 (Surely Worthem will be). Newton is at a DII school.

As for recruiting, RMU had a lot of movement. With three players leaving via transfer, a few scholarships left over from the year before, and the graduation of Karvel Anderson and Ant Myers Pate, coach Toole had a lot of spots to fill throughout the roster.

For highlights and a detailed breakdown of each player, check out the class breakdown here.

The Colonials added  freshman forwards Andre Frederick (Detroit, Mich.) and Elijah Minnie (Monessen, Pa.), freshman guards Jafar Kinsey (Syracuse, N.Y.) and Marcquise Reed (Laurel, Md.), junior forward Lionel Gomis (Dakar, Senegal ), junior guard Rodney Pryor (Evanston, Ill.) and sophomore guard Jairus Lyles (Washington, D.C.). They also added freshman preferred walk-on Ryan Skovranko (Pittsburgh PA.)

Minne and Skovranko are the highlight names on this list (simply because of location). The local duo chose to stay home and play for Toole after winning two state titles in high school at Lincoln Park. Minne had a lot of high major interest and is an incredible defender and athlete. He will surely produce a few highlight dunks at the Chuck. I expect him to have a role this season. Skovranko is a lengthy shooter, and one to track for the future.

Gomis may make the biggest impact out of the gate for RMU. He’s 6’9 and a legitimate 220. RMU has NOT had many forwards that are “big” (Usually undersized and strong as hell: Tate, Aaron. Or tall but skinny: Hawkins, Stephan). He’s big, and knows how to use his frame. He played a year at Siena before going to Community College for a year. Gomis has two years of eligibility left and will look to anchor down the paint and push Stephan Hawkins at the center position.

Kinsey, Reed and Frederick are the future of the program, but all three will have a chance to get minutes right away. While Frederick will have quite a battle in a crowded front court, Reed and Kinsey will have a very good shot. Andy Toole will need a group effort to replace Anderson at the two guard, and Reed has the makeup to take some of those minutes. He can shoot and score it with anybody. It’s the other parts of his game (particularly defense) that will decide just how much he plays year one. Kinsey will be penciled in to play the backup point behind Kavon Stewart. 

Pryor could be the biggest steal for RMU. The 6-4 swingman has battled injuries his whole career including a torn ACL just before the start of the 2013-2014 campaign. He has the size and talent to be a very good D1 player if he can stay on the court.

The last member of the recruiting class, Jairus Lyles, is a transfer from VCU. Any time a player comes from that type of program, you know he has talent. Lyles will have to sit out this season, but should be a major part of the 2015-2016 plans.

Some other notes/thoughts:

Lucky Jones had a very big offseason/summer league. He is primped to have a big senior season, and could win NEC Player of the Year. He was also named to NYC Buckets very early first team All NEC. Jones has accomplished a lot at RMU, and will once again have a huge season on both ends of the court, but is still missing that one elusive accomplishment. Winning the NEC tournament.

Once practice “officially” starts, it will go-go-go for the Colonials. Andy Toole has a lot of talent, a lot of depth, and a lot of questions heading into year five of the Toole era. Only Jones and Stewart are “expected” starters and there are many roles that will need to be filled. Will the Colonials play man-to-man or go with the 2-3 zone again? Who replaces Karvel? Can the freshmen adapt? and many more….

With the season quickly approaching we will have a full roster breakdown, more on the schedule, predictions and much more. Don’t forget to get updates on the summer league, which concludes this week with a couple colonials playing in the title game.

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