In the fifth installment of our 2014-15 Northeast Conference Men’s Basketball previews, it is time to look at the 2014 freshman class around the NEC. We will take a look at each incoming freshmen and try to identify which ones could have a change to make an impact to their teams this upcoming season.
As always, it is hard to predict which freshmen will come into the season and get playing time right away or slowly gain the trust of the coaching staff and gradually get more minutes as the season goes along. From some teams, the opportunities are there for certain freshmen to take reins on a starting job and run with it. Others will have to impress coming off the bench to start the season but could seeing themselves forcing their way into the starting lineup by the time conference play rolls around.
Let’s take a look at the NEC’s Class of 2014 and take a look at which of these guys which should keep an eye on this season.
We start with Central Connecticut State who brought in two freshmen to their roster for this upcoming season. The Blue Devils added 6’7” forward Mustafa Jones from Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx. Jones averaged 13.4 ppg in 21 games during his senior year last season and led Hayes to the NYC Catholic League final. They also added 6’0” point guard Kevin Seymour from Blair Acadamy. He played in only eight games his senior season averaging 8.5 ppg and 1.2 apg. Seymour could likely backup either Malcolm McMillian or Kyle Vinales at the point for CCSU.
Saint Francis University comes into the 2014-15 season with a veteran team and this season they added more size with three freshmen, who are all forwards, to the roster. SFU head coach Rob Krimmel added 6’7” Michael Clark, 6’6” Basil Thompson and 6’8” Daniel Wallace to a team that quite frankly needed to add more size to their roster. Last season, SFU had just three players who were 6’6” or taller. With this class, SFU doubled that number.
Clark averaged 10 points and 7 rebounds in his senior season and 20 points in his junior season. He is considered a good rebounder by the SFU coaching staff as well as a finisher around the basket. Thompson averaged 11 points per contest in his junior season in high school. Was ranked #121 in the nation for small forwards by ESPN. Defense and rebounding seems to be two of his strengths coming into his rookie season. Wallace averaged 11 points and 12 rebounds in his senior season and earned first-team honors in his high school conference. He missed the majority of his junior season due to an undisclosed injury. Like Thompson, it seems like defense and rebounding are his two biggest strengths coming into his freshmen season.
I can’t see these three making a huge splash in year one considering they will be playing behind guys like Earl Brown and Ronnie Drinnon who will get the bulk of the minutes in the SFU front court. All three though might get an opportunity in non-conference play to get some minutes and see what they got and see if they can more minutes during the NEC season.
Bryant comes into 2014-15 with a three-player rookie class. The Bulldogs have gotten a few gems in the Oceania region of the world, mostly from Australia, but this time head coach Tim O’Shea found himself a New Zealander in 6’8” forward/center Angus Riley. Recently, he played 16 games for the Nelson Giants of the New Zealand NBL in and averaged 3.4 ppg and 2 rpg and shot 40% from the floor. He averaged 18 points and 13 rebounds and four assists in his senior season in high school. He was also captain of New Zealand’s Under-18 men’s national team in 2013.
6’2” guard Hunter Ware from Powder Springs, Georgia might be a freshman to keep an eye on. Ware started the last three seasons at point guard for North Cobb Christian HS in Georgia. He averaged 19.4 ppg last season as a senior and was second-team all-state. He received a three-star rating from scout.com. Ware certainly will have to fight to get some minutes at the point for Bryant this season. Right now, the Bulldogs have five points guards on the roster with Shane McLaughlin the likely starter. He will join the competition with sophomore Justin Brickman for backup minutes. 6’5” guard Blake McBride also arrives at Bryant after starting the last two seasons for J Serra Catholic in California. Averaged 10 points, four rebounds and five assists as his team’s senior captain.
Reigning NEC champions Mount St. Mary‘s brings in a five-player freshmen class along with redshirt freshmen 6’1” guard Charles Glover. Glover tore his ACL last year and didn’t play last season. He averaged 11.1 ppg as a senior high school season. The other five true freshmen looks like they fit the Mount Mayhem style of play.
The star of Mount’s class might be 6’8” center Mawdo Sallah. He prepped last season at Fishburne Military Academy. He is an ESPN three-star ranked big man who averaged 18 points, 14.8 rebounds and 4.5 blocks his senior season. He is a big-time rim protector who can score inside and has a knack for grabbing the boards. He will only further help enhance an already big Mount front court.
6’9” Troy Henderson is considered an athletic wing with a 7’1” wingspan, who can shoot the ball and play defense. As you would expect from a Mount recruit, he can stroke the three-point shot and his shooting ability should help alleviate the loss of the shooting that they lost due to graduation. Another long wing is 6’8” Chris Wray who averaged 11 points and six rebounds last season. He has a 7’2” wingspan and the Mount coaches believe he can guard any player on the court. Wray played with Mawdo Sallah at Fishburne.
6’6” forward Chris Manning is considered as another above the rim player who can shot block and rebound as well as score inside. Finally, 5’7” point guard Lamont Robinson Jr. averaged 22 points and five assists his junior season. He is quick and possesses an over 40-inch vertical leap. He could make point guards around the NEC lives difficult when he steps on the floor.
Fairleigh Dickinson brings in a five-player freshmen class led by 6’4” shooting guard Marques Townes from Edison, NJ. Townes had a three-star ranking from ESPN and a 70 grade. Ranked 51st in the nation by ESPN among shooting guards. He won a NJ state championship last season while averaging 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals his senior year and was named third-team all-state. He could make an immediate impact for head coach Greg Herenda’s squad.
The Knights also landed 6’1” Darian Anderson, a guard from Washington D.C. who averaged 13.6 points per game last season. He is described as quick with good shooting range. He is able to play both the point and the shooting guard positions. 6’4” guard Terrell Bagley from Linden, NJ averaged 12 ppg last season on his way to being named second-team All-Union County. 6’6” combo guard Earl Potts Jr. from Severn, Maryland prepped last season at Coastal Academy in Belmar, NJ. Potts Jr. averaged 17.8 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.4 blocks per game his senior season two years ago and earned first-team All-Baltimore Catholic League. Look for Potts to get an opportunity to play early on. Lastly, 6’1” guard Stephan Jiggetts, who transferred in from Albany, will be eligible to play this season. He averaged 18 points and five assists per game in his senior season.
Robert Morris finished last season with just eight players so a re-tooling of the roster was expected. Head coach Andy Toole brought in a four-player freshmen class this upcoming season. 6’3” guard Marcquise Reed highlights this RMU rookie class. Reed averaged 31.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. Scored 52 points in last prep game. Topped 40 points in a game five times last season. He is a big-time scorer and will be looked upon to help fill void left behind by the departure of last season’s NEC Player of the Year Karvel Anderson.
6’2” guard Jafar Kinsey from Syracuse, NY, averaged 20.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 5.3 apg his senior season. He was twice selected first-team All-Freedom Conference. He was a starter the last three seasons and was team captain the last two. RMU also added two big men in 6’8” Elijah Minnie and 6’8” Andre Frederick. Minnie averaged 15.7 ppg, 12.3 rpg, and 5 bpg last season while Frederick averaged 12.4 ppg, 9.6 rpg and 3.2 bpg and shot 59 percent from the floor last season. Minnie was a Pennsylvania All-State First-Team member while Frederick was earned Connecticut All-State Second-Team honors.
Wagner has brought in a five-player freshmen class as well. Head coach Bashir Mason signed a trio of point guards in 6’1” JoJo Cooper, 6’3” Corey Henson and 5’10” Aaren Edmead. Both Cooper and Henson could see minutes at either guard spot. Cooper averaged 17 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals per games in earning first-team All-State in Delaware while Henson played at famed DeMatha Catholic and averaged 13.2 ppg his senior year. Edmead will compete for minutes as a backup point guard. The Deer Park, NY native averaged 19.5 ppg and made nearly 2.5 three-pointers per game his senior season. Newsday selected him as Long Island’s 2014 Player of the Year.
Also playing at Grymes Hill this season are 6’3” shooting guard Romone Saunders and 6’7” forward Japhet Kadji. Saunders prepped last season and averaged 17 points and 6 rebounds per game while dishing out 3.7 assists per game. He improved on his 12.2 ppg average from his senior year. He could get an opportunity at shooting guard as Wagner looks to replace the departed Latif Rivers. Kadji could get a chance to get himself to get playing time with Wagner’s lack of depth in the front court. It will depend on if Wagner can get transfer Mike Aaman eligible this season or not. He averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds last season in his prep year.
Over at Sacred Heart, head coach Anthony Latina brings in four freshmen onto his roster. First, 6’0” point guard Cane Broome joins Sacred Heart after a prep season at St. Thomas More where he averaged over 13 ppg last season. He made the McDonald’s All-American Nominee list last season. He is described as a quick point guard who will look to push the pace which is the style of play Latina wants on offense. Will play behind and get to learn from one of the best pure point guards in the NEC this season in senior Phil Gaetano.
Sacred Heart also signed a pair of shooting guards in 6’2” Vince Fritz and 6’3” Chris Robinson. Fritz averaged 12.3 ppg and 4.3 rpg his junior season and was second-team All-State in Kansas. Robinson played at Cardinal Hayes in the Bronx where he averaged 14 ppg as a senior and 17 ppg as a junior. Sacred Heart is looking for the next Shane Gibson to work into their gym. Lastly, 6’10” big man Filip Nowicki will be SHU’s tallest player on their roster. The Poland native averaged 11 ppg and 9 rpg while playing prep ball in Indiana last season. He was also a member of Poland’s Under-18 men’s national team and competed in the 2013 Under-18 Euro Championships.
In Brooklyn Heights where expectations are likely to be high this season, St. Francis Brooklyn added three freshmen to their roster in 5’11” point guard Glenn Sanabria, 6’2” shooting guard Gunnar Olafsson and 6’4 shooting guard Keon Williams. Sanabria will play behind senior starter Brent Jones. Sanabria averaged 13.6 points and 6 assists per game last season for St. Peter’s in Staten Island. He was named to MSG Varsity’s New York City’s first-team. He is considered a point guard who makes good decisions on the court as well as a strong defender.
Olafsson, one of three incoming freshmen into the NEC from Iceland, played for SC Keflavik in Iceland where he averaged 8.1 points and 2.7 rebounds in 24 games last season. He shot 43% from the field and 27.4% from three. He is already 21 years of age. Williams just recently signed with the Terriers just before the school year began. Williams averaged 18.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg 2.4 spg, and 1.9 bpg last season for John Hardin HS in Kentucky. SFC has an opening at the starting shooting guard position with the departure of Ben Mockford so these two guys will likely compete for the spot.
Finally, LIU Brooklyn brings in five true freshmen to their team this season in addition to redshirt freshman Nura Zanna who missed all of last season to a wrist injury. I will have more on LIU’s freshmen class in the future as I breakdown the entire LIU Brooklyn 2014-15 roster but to summarize, LIU brought in two point guards in 6’0” Elvar Fridriksson from Iceland and 6’1” Jamil Hood Jr. to compete for the open point guard position left by Jason Brickman’s departure. Head coach Jack Perri also brought twin 6’6” forwards Trevin Woods and Trevon Woods to add much needed front court depth and added 6’3” combo guard Martin Hermannsson also from Iceland who could see immediate playing time. It will not be all at surprising to see all of LIU freshmen get quality playing time this season as LIU looks to rebuild a year removed from their three consecutive NEC championships.
Also check out the first four installments of our 2014-15 NEC Previews. Part One: Manning the point: 2014-15 NEC Point Guard Preview, Part Two: Get Out the Three Goggles: The NEC’s Best Returning Three-Point Bombers, Part Three: Working the Interior: Previewing the 2014-15 NEC Bigs and Part Four: Who’s New in the NEC: The 2014-15 Transfers.