“The hungry cat hunts best,” is the motto of the Fairleigh Dickinson program. That hunger still fuels FDU—even coming off a season in which the Knights stunned the Northeast Conference by advancing to the NCAA tournament after being picked ninth last preseason.
Monmouth Hawks, 12-20 (10-8 NEC), Lost in 1st Round of NEC Tournament to Robert Morris, 87-66
F Mike Myers Keitt – 8.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.3 apg
G Will Campbell – 6.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.8 apg
C Phil Wait – 4.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.5 bpg
G Austin Tillotson (transfer) – 6.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.1 spg
Jalen Wesson Palm, 5’10” PG – Butler Traditional High (KY)
Christian White, 5’11” PG – Aquinas Institute (NY)
Tyrone O’Garro, 6’6” F – St. Peter’s Prep (NJ)
Collin Stewart, 6’8” G/SF – Meekel Christian Academy (NY)
Deon Jones (transfer), 6’6” G/SF – Towson University (MD)
With a full year under his belt, head coach King Rice may have procured one of the better recruiting classes in recent memory for the Monmouth Hawks. Coach Rice and his staff used the past 2 offseasons to sign five players for the 2012 class, all of whom could have an impact in the coming years, if not immediately.
As a former point guard for the North Carolina Tar Heels (my apologies Monmouth fans, since you’ve probably heard this 1,568 times by now), Coach Rice understands how crucial it is to have a strong floor general running your team. With the point guard position occupied by senior Jesse Steele for one more season, Coach Rice found his point guard rotation of the future, signing prospects Jalen Wesson Palm and Christian White.
Both Wesson Palm and White fit the mold of their future coach, with each exhibiting strong leadership qualities to go along with a tight handle and tough play. Of the two recruits, Wesson Palm profiles as the future starter, thanks to his speed, good passing eye, and ability to create separation from his defenders. Based on limited scouting reports, Palm’s perceived potential is held back by two criticisms that can be improved upon. The first criticism highlights his proneness to turning over the ball. While he’s been reported to play a little out of the control, Coach Rice’s influence should help reduce Wesson Palm’s turnover ratio over time. The second criticism is his lack of size, although adding strength to his 150 pound frame should accelerate his progress and prevent bigger guards from pushing him around on the defensive end.
White, on the other hand, has a little more size, yet has average to slightly above average quickness. Consequently, he’ll have more difficulty than Wesson Palm creating his own shot and facilitating play with penetration into the lane. At least you have to admire White’s competitive fire, even if it brings out some wacky comments. When asked in an interview what his goals at Monmouth were, White offered the following, “I want to win a national championship.”
Given the Northeast Conference’s 3-30 career record in the NCAA tourney, perhaps White is being a tad optimist. All kidding aside though, White appears to have the mental makeup and tools to play an integral role towards Coach Rice’s rebuilding effort.
As far as immediate playing time is concerned, it wouldn’t be surprising if Wesson Palm or White are redshirted in their first season. After all, Monmouth will have 5 players measuring 6-foot-1 or shorter on the roster and Steele should match his minutes from last season, which landed in the NEC top 10 at 34.5 minutes per game.
With the point guard position covered through the 2015-16 season, Coach Rice moved into the low block to find his next impact recruit. Tyrone O’Garro, who hails from New Jersey, possesses the type of athleticism and leaping ability this Hawk’s team desperately needs. But don’t take my word for it – check out this Youtube highlight video of O’Garro, comprised mainly of alley-oops. It’s highly unlikely O’Garro will complete as many alley-oops against collegiate competition though!
Digging deeper, O’Garro should provide instant rebounding for a Monmouth club that finished dead last in the NEC in rebounding margin. O’Garro is versatile defensively, with the ability to guard bigger forwards in the post and smaller forwards on the perimeter, thanks to his polished footwork. His offensive arsenal needs development, but O’Garro should see immediate playing time just for his off-the-ball skills, especially with the departures of big men Phil Wait and Mike Myers Keitt.
Next up is the moderately recruited (among low mid-major teams) Collin Stewart. Stewart is the most intriguing recruit of the bunch, because the lanky 6-foot-8 recruit profiles as a shooting guard. It’s with good reason. Stewart excels shooting the outside jumper and has well developed skills out on the perimeter. Stewart, when ready, would give most NEC opponents matchup problems on both ends of the floor, especially against smaller lineups. The potential is absolutely there, and if developed properly, Stewart could be the best recruit that comes out of Coach Rice’s 2012 class.
Deon Jones, the transfer from Towson University, makes up the 5th and final recruit in this class, although Jones isn’t eligible to play for the 2012-13 season. Jones played a full season in the Colonial Athletic Association, and as a freshman, his performance was a mixed bag. There was the good (4.5 rebounds per game) and the bad (37% Effective FG percentage, 0.4 assist-to-turnover ratio). Once upon a time, Jones ranked as the 2nd best high school senior in Delaware, therefore the raw talent is there.
All in all, Coach Rice grabbed a little of everything for his 2012 recruiting class. While some of these players probably have a ceiling of a solid role player, a couple of these recruits could progress into excellent players in the NEC. Only time will tell, but it appears the Monmouth Hawks are heading in the right direction with Coach King Rice.