With a majority of the NEC basketball scholarships filled for the 2014-15 season, it’s an excellent time to go over the conference’s transfer list. While this list isn’t final (remember, Shivaughn Wiggins leaving Mount St. Mary’s in July last season?), we’d be surprised if there was more activity this offseason. So without further ado, let’s break down the most important players departing from the NEC.
E.J. Reed, LIU Brooklyn – On the surface, the departure of E.J. Reed may be viewed as a major loss for Jack Perri’s squad. Reed’s move to Tarleton St. University, a Division II program, thins out LIU’s frontcourt even further, leaving only Glenn Feidanga and Landon Atterbery as the lone big men returning who registered more than 40% of the team’s minutes last season. Given LIU’s influx of youth, however, the loss of Reed may find the Blackbirds in a better position down the road.
Why? Well, the high motored Reed arguably took a step back as a sophomore. Without an elite scorer like Jamal Olasewere, Julian Boyd, or C.J Garner around to relegate Reed as a useful role player, the sophomore saw his shooting percentages tumble and turnover rate slightly increase with more defensive focus. His aggressive nature did get him to the free throw line more than any other Blackbird last season – 157 free throw attempts – and yet his propensity to foul (5.4 fouls per 40 minutes) limited his effectiveness while also forcing Perri to abandon LIU’s man-to-man defense in favor of a porous zone. He still has time to improve, but asking Reed to turn into Olasewere or Boyd just wasn’t fair.
Mario Moody, Wagner – Big Apple Buckets already chimed in on Moody’s departure, but this bears repeating – given the soon-to-be senior’s upside and Wagner’s mostly green roster, Moody’s loss was likely the most significant of the conference for next season. Rather than making a run at an All-NEC selection, Moody opted to transfer to the MEAC program Bethune-Cookman, which at best can be construed as a parallel leap. Especially since the Wildcats dropped 25 of 32 games last season.
So why did the high-flying forward exit Staten Island? Is Moody’s exodus an indictment on Bashir Mason’s alleged abrasive coaching style? These uncomfortable questions need to be asked – in Mason’s two plus years as Wagner’s head coach, the Seahawks have now released Eric Fanning, Moody and Jay Harris from the program, while suspending others in-season. Season number three will be a pivotal year, as Mason attempts to bring in recruits that fit his defensive first scheme. He can no longer rely on the players Dan Hurley lured to the campus, so we’ll find out in the next couple of seasons where Mason sits with this program.
Chris Evans, Sacred Heart – After losing an all-time scorer in Shane Gibson, Evans was counted on by first-year head coach Anthony Latina to pick up some of the slack on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, the Stamford native disappointed coming off of knee surgery in the previous season. As the 2013-14 season progressed, Evans’ game digressed to the point where the junior shot just 30% (26 of 86) and posted a 0.82 assist to turnover ratio in his final ten contests, all verses NEC competition. Along with the offensive hardships, Evans’ defense was also a major liability with opponents scoring 9.6 more points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor.
To his credit, Evans took the blame for his disappointing redshirt junior campaign, yet his candor wasn’t enough to prevent Latina from suspending and then releasing the once coveted guard from his scholarship. He’ll now exhaust his final season of eligibility at the University of Charleston, a Division II program.
Jeremiah Worthem, Robert Morris – During a three game stretch in mid January, Worthem, a player touted by yours truly as the next NEC Rookie of the Year, was beginning to come into his own. For those three games – all Robert Morris wins – Worthem scored 43 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and got to the charity an impressive 16 times. The freshman with the inside-out game had earned Andy Toole’s trust by logging major minutes, but then it was suddenly over.
Along with freshman teammate Britton Lee and two walk-ons, Worthem was suspended indefinitely for violating university policy, essentially ending his career as a Colonial. He departed averaging 8.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while posting an offensive rating north of 100, not an easy accomplishment for a college rookie. There’s no doubt he had all-conference talent had he stuck, therefore one could argue that Worthem’s departure is the biggest one of the NEC this offseason.
The Other NEC Transfers (player’s new program in italics)
- Jay Harris, Wagner
- Jayde Dawson, FDU – Amherst College (DIII)
- Britton Lee, Robert Morris – Midland (JC)
- Desjuan Newton, Robert Morris – Rodgers State (DII)
- Mike Owona, FDU – NW Kansas Tech (JC)
- Kyle Pearson, FDU – Pace (DII)
- Declan Soukup, Bryant – Assumption (DII)
- Stephon Mosley, Saint Francis PA
- D.J. Griggs, LIU Brooklyn – Pace (DII)
- Leo Vincent, Sacred Heart – Harcum College (JC)
- Sheldon Hagigal, St. Francis Brooklyn
- Anthony White, St. Francis Brooklyn
- P. J. Santavenere, St. Francis Brooklyn
- Kevin Mickle, Central Connecticut – Broward College (JC)
And finally some notes on this transfer class:
- Mount St. Mary’s is the only NEC program to retain everyone on scholarship with at least one more season of eligibility. Of course, they had five defections the year prior when certain players failed to adapt to Jamion Christian’s Mayhem system.
- Of the 18 transfers, only Moody will likely remain in Division I for the upcoming season. (Although Jay Harris could possibly find a Division I program.) The majority have either transferred down to a Division II program or decided to use their second season of eligibility at a junior college. Of the latter group, we’d be shocked if Worthem didn’t find his way back onto a Division I roster as an upperclassmen. Whether soon-to-be sophomores Mike Owona and Britton Lee realize the same projected path as Worthem remains to be seen.
- So far, the conference has four more transfers than it had the previous offseason (14), where the majority of those 2013 defections came from Mount St. Mary’s (5) and Robert Morris (3).
- With a 72-36 record the past three seasons, playing basketball for Colonials head coach Andy Toole certainly has its perks. Unless you fail to find yourself in the rotation and/or in Toole’s doghouse. No NEC program has had more transfers the past three seasons than Robert Morris (9).
- The latest update to this post includes the addition of three Terrier players, White, Santavenere, and Hagigal. Though not official, all three were left off St. Francis’ 2014-15 roster and come as no surprise. All three have been part of sexual assault investigations, so it comes as no surprise that any of them would return to the Brooklyn campus.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride.