Tag Archives: Cole Walton

Assessing Sacred Heart’s Trip to Canada

A few weeks ago, Sacred Heart embarked on a trip to Canada – Montreal and Quebec City, to be specific – to compete in five games against international competition. The endeavor proved to be valuable for the squad, especially when considering that only seven returning players logged minutes for the Pioneers last season. (I’m not counting Evan Kelley in that group, who played ~20 minutes before opting for season ending surgery). Continue reading

Recruiting Recap: Sacred Heart Adds Four to Latest Recruiting Class

This may be Anthony Latina’s first offseason as Sacred Heart’s head coach, yet this is far from his first true recruiting class. Since hired as Dave Bike’s associate head coach in 2005, Latina and assistant Johnny Kidd have spearheaded the majority, if not all, of the recruiting efforts. This four player class – five if you include red-shirt freshman Cole Walton – is critical toward determining Latina’s near-term future, given the current state of the Pioneer’s roster.

With a backcourt full of experienced upperclassmen, Latina wanted to infuse his bench with much-needed youth, hence the addition of guards Leo Vincent and Jordan Gleason. The 6’0″ Leo Vincent, in particular, has the best chance to find minutes in the backcourt thanks to his versatility as a true combo guard. Vincent compares most favorably to former Sacred Heart standout Jerrell Thompson, who as an upperclassman had a productive career in the red and white. Like Thompson, Vincent has the ability to use his athleticism and shiftiness to score from all parts of the floor. All accounts report that Vincent is a pure scorer, yet the biggest question may be how easily Vincent can get open looks at the Division I level. Nevertheless, Latina is excited about his future.

“He can really score,” said Latina. He’s a guy that can score in bunches.”

On the other hand, the accomplished Gleason profiles strictly as a shooting guard who can really stroke it from behind the arc. Playing time may be scarce in year one, but at 6’2″, Gleason compares favorably to another Sacred Heart guard you may or may not have heard of.

“He is very similar to, and believe me I don’t want to say this because he’s one of the best players in the history of Sacred Heart basketball, but (Jordan) is similar to Shane Gibson,” proclaimed Latina. “We think in time, he can be a terrific three-point shooter for us.”

These days, finding an “under the radar” recruit is near impossible, yet Latina may have one on his roster in 6’5” swingman De’Von Barnett. A Google search on Barnett will garner next to nothing (go ahead and try), both on Youtube or in online newspaper clippings.

In his final season at the high school level, Barnett was part of a loaded Riverdale Baptist club that included CCSU’s Brandon Peel. Due to Riverdale’s impressive depth, which included five to six Division I players, Barnett saw less playing time, and ultimately, had difficulty getting noticed by D-I coaches not named Johnny Kidd. After turning down an offer by Radford in the spring after his senior season, Barnett opted to attend junior college for a year while accepting Sacred Heart’s offer. Little may be known about Barnett, but Latina feels like they found a diamond in the rough.

“De’von is long, athletic, there are a lot of good things about him, but one of the things that excites me as much as anything, I think he’s a great team guy,” said Latina. “In a time where there’s no sleepers or under-the-radar guys, we are hoping we found one in De’von Barnett. I really am extremely excited about him. I love his mental makeup, his approach.”

As an aggressive slasher who can create around the rim, Barnett could find minutes backing up Louis Montes or Chris Evans this season. Out of this class, Latina feels Barnett could force the staff to find him minutes during the season.

Due to the sudden departure of De’Aires Tate, Latina had two more scholarships available even after signing Vincent, Gleason, and Barnett. Scholarship number twelve came straight out of the junior college ranks with the addition of Eyidome “Mofe” Edukugho. Mofe was a preseason Division II All-American who unfortunately torn his ACL in the first game of his sophomore season at Erie CC. Despite the season ending injury, Sacred Heart swooped in and offered the undersized, yet explosive 6’6″ Edukugho, who has three years of eligibility remaining. It’s likely that he would’ve ended up at a bigger DI school had he remained healthy.

When healthy, Edukugho can create havoc around the rim on both ends of the floor with his excellent athleticism. His knee is currently around 70%, yet he’s projected to be at full strength by the first jump ball in November.

Finally, there’s 6’11” prospect Cole Walton, who red-shirted last season to add some bulk to his wiry frame. Latina is expecting Walton will add depth to the center position and give the Pioneers another option to consider down low.

“He’s a skilled “5”, so he can play the high post, because he’s a very good passer and he can make a 15-footer,” said Latina. “He’s not a guy who just has to be around the rim.”

With only 53.2% of Sacred Heart’s returning possession minutes returning from last season, these five newcomers will be expected to contribute, especially if the Pioneers want to surprise in the NEC. Evan Kelley and Chris Evans return from injury after a lost 2012-13 season, so there’s clearly upside despite losing All-NEC first teamer Shane Gibson. It remains to be seen if Sacred Heart will finally return back to their glory days of the middle of the last decade.

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride. You can e-mail him at shupioneerpride@gmail.com.

Sacred Heart Recruits Frontcourt of the Future with 2012 Class

Sacred Heart Pioneers, 14-18 (8-10 NEC), Lost 1st Round of NEC Tournament to LIU

Players Lost:
F Stan Dulaire, 21 mpg, 4.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.0 apg
PG Steve Zazuri, 2 games played

Incoming Recruits: 
Tevin Falzon
, 6’7″ F – Newton North High/Winchendon School (MA)
Cole Walton
, 6’11” C – Bellevue High (WA)
De’Aires Tate
, 6’6″ F – Martin Luther King High (GA)

With good reason, Dave Bike and the Sacred Heart (SHU) coaching staff made it a priority to recruit frontcourt depth for the 2012-13 season.  The Pioneers struggled to score inside and defend the paint, especially when junior Justin Swidowski missed time due to injury or foul trouble, thereby forcing co-captain Nick Greenbacker and the now graduated Stan Dulaire to play extended minutes.  As a result, Bike felt the need to use all three of SHU’s available scholarships on skilled big men that should bolster their front line and bench in the short-term and improve the long-term outlook of their inside play.

Leading the group is early commitment Tevin Falzon, who at 6-foot-7 has an opportunity to make an impact right away in the Northeast Conference.  Heading into his senior season at Newton North High, Falzon reportedly drew the interest of a few Division I schools, which included Robert Morris and Quinnipiac.  Unfortunately for Falzon, a broken wrist in the preseason plummeted his stock, so much so that Falzon didn’t have a single Division I offer to mull after the season.  Despite this, SHU assistant coach Johnny Kidd saw enough in Falzon’s comeback from the wrist injury to offer him an early scholarship this past summer.  The gamble paid off.  Since signing his National Letter of Intent with SHU, Falzon had an excellent post-graduate season at Winchendon School, impressing many with his improved conditioning and explosiveness.  Now with a season of post-graduate under his belt, Falzon has made it clear he’s ready to compete at the college level.

Falzon profiles as a versatile big man who’s comfortable both on the perimeter and in the paint, which fits well into SHU’s perimeter oriented offense.  His ability to stretch the defense – by using his range to pull post defenders out of the paint – gives him an opportunity to play right away, specifically as Swidowski’s back-up.  In this role, he should provide scoring off the bench and could be part of a very respectable four man rotation in the frontcourt including Swidowki, Greenbacker, and junior transfer power forward Mostafa Abdel Latif.  At the very least, Falzon’s insertion into this rotation should push Louis Montes back to his more natural position, small forward.

Size can be difficult to acquire in the NEC, yet SHU was able to sign 6-foot-11 center Cole Walton from Bellevue High in Washington State.  Walton has solid athleticism, good hands, and decent range as a big, but as is the case for most lanky high school seniors, Walton will need to bulk up considerably and improve his offensive arsenal to compete in the low block with the likes of NEC up-and-coming big men Jalen Cannon and Ousmane Drame.  Because of this, Walton probably translates as the biggest project of the recruiting trio, albeit a project with very good upside.  If the SHU coaching staff can transform a skinny and less athletic 7-foot-0 Liam Potter into a near double-double machine his senior season, then perhaps Walton can realize his potential much earlier into his Sacred Heart tenure.  Given the glut of big men on Bike’s roster, it certainly makes sense to redshirt Walton this upcoming season and have him ready for the 2013-14 campaign, when Swidowski, Greenbacker, and seldom used Femi Akinpetide are off the roster.  After all, Walton hasn’t even turned 18 yet and an extra year to allow the freshman to physically mature surely couldn’t hurt.

The final piece of the recruiting puzzle was completed last Tuesday, with SHU acquiring the services of 6-foot-6 power forward De’Aires Tate.  Tate had verbally committed to SWAC doormat Grambling back in the February, yet he most likely reneged on his commitment when head coach Bobby Washington was dismissed after a 4-24 season.  Grambling’s loss is Sacred Heart’s gain.  The Pioneer coaching staff describes Tate as an athletic, yet undersized, high-energy rebounder (or as Jay Bilas would say, “this kid has a nice motor”) who could contribute on the glass and the defensive end of the floor right away.  Other than this grainy Youtube video however, there is hardly any information out there on Tate, so for now, we’ll have to take the coaching staff’s word that this was a recruiting coop.  Only time will determine if Tate’s ceiling is closer to Stan Dulaire, or in a dream scenario for the red and white, Joey Henley.

All in all, the Pioneers addressed their urgent need for big men of the future.  They signed three players who each possess unique talents and should compliment each other well in the years to come.  With four players scheduled to graduate after next season, including the greatest Pioneer of them all Shane Gibson, SHU will have four more scholarships to offer with the focus shifting to finding a top of the line wing playmaker.  For now though, this incoming class will add some much needed depth to SHU’s front line, and with any luck, could help catapult the Pioneers into the upper echelon of the NEC for the 2012-13 season.

Ryan Peters covers Sacred Heart Basketball and the Northeast Conference on Pioneer Pride and Big Apple Buckets.  You can follow Ryan on Twitter here.