Fast forward to mid-March and, well, none of that is the case. Since Central Connecticut’s season ended back on March 2nd after failing to qualify for the NEC Tournament, four players- Joe Hugley, Tyson Batiste, Kashaun Hicks, and Mike Underwood- have announced their intentions to transfer. The first three will be eligible immediately as graduate transfers, while Underwood is a “sit one, play three” guy. It also wouldn’t come as a shock if there were one or two more guys who leave the program.
We will do plenty of looking backwards over the next few weeks here at TBDD. But let’s focus on the future here. So…now what?
The depth chart, as currently constituted, looks like this:
PG- Thai Segwai (Soph.), Will Ellis (Soph.)
Wing- Ian Krishnan (Soph.), Trey Tennyson (Fr.), Chris Williams (Sr.)
4/5- Jamir Coleman (Sr.), Karrington Wallace (Soph.), Harrison Kay (Sr.)
It’s important to remember that Donyell Marshall just finished Year 3 of his initial 5-year contract as head coach. Why is that important? Because unless he signs a contract extension, he theoretically has two years to turn this thing around. He has three options, as far as I see it:
Go heavy on Junior College players, and perhaps graduate transfers, to immediately try and compete for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, since next year’s team will have just one senior (Coleman).
Complete rebuild with a big freshman class to go along with the three sophomores.
Some combination of the two; trying to become relevant immediately next season with an eye toward the future.
One week ago, I would have suggested emphatically that Marshall would choose “Option 1”. Though it’s probably not the best thing for the program long-term, absent any behind the scenes extension discussions that the public is not privy to, I’m not sure Donyell has the time to wait out a rebuild with freshmen.
However, based on the prospects he’s reportedly offered scholarships to (more on that in a bit), he’s either choosing “Option B” or “Option C”. You never know though, it was about a year ago Marshall nabbed Jamir Coleman. That seems to have worked out alright.
Based on what we know as of March 14th, there are five open scholarships available as Trey Tennyson has already signed his Letter of Intent.
At this point, the CCSU program needs an infusion of talent at every position, but none more important than at point guard. Thai Segwai’s minutes faded at the end of the season (he played just two minutes from 1/31 until 2/21 before averaging 21 mpg after the Kohl/Hugley suspensions), while Will Ellis was never able to establish himself as a rotation player, appearing in just 9 games and playing in just 43 minutes total. Bringing in a veteran play-maker to run the team should probably be a priority for the staff.
The other gaping hole on the current roster is at the 5. Deion Bute has graduated while Joe Hugley is gone, which means Karrington Wallace and Harrison Kay are all that remains. Wallace, while a nice player, is probably not physically developed enough to defend/rebound at the 5 for significant minutes (I think his future is as a stretch-4 if he can find a consistent jumper), while Harrison Kay played just 48 minutes total as a junior. A Tafari Whittingham-level grad transfer would be a god-send here, but at minimum some veteran depth is warranted, though bringing in a freshman with size would be a good long-term move as well.
One of the overall problems with CCSU’s roster in 2018-19, in this writer’s opinion, was a lack of quickness; the Blue Devils struggled to keep quicker ball-handlers out of the paint defensively, while not possessing the kind of guy who could break down a defense with the dribble and make a play for himself and others with the ball (Tyler Kohl was a play-maker, but he was more crafty than quick). Why? Rather than recruiting speedy but perhaps under-sized, guards like many programs at this level, Marshall has preferred to bring in shooters with size. Kashaun Hicks (6’6”) saw a lot of minutes on the wing last season, while players such as Jamir Coleman (6’7”), Mike Underwood (6’6”) and Chris Williams (6’5”) (and even Tyler Kohl at 6’5”) fit that mold as well.
Here’s the thing though; I’m not convinced teams can win consistently at the mid-major level by playing with this kind of size on the wings. In 2018-19, Central had undoubtedly the “biggest” rotation in the Northeast Conference, while the teams that finished at the top of the standings were dominated by smaller guards: SFU started four players 6’4” or shorter (including Keith Braxton, who won MVP and led the league in rebounding); FDU started three guards 6’4” or shorter; Six of SHU’s eight rotation players were 6’3” or shorter (a year after missing the NEC Tournament with the biggest team in the league); and RMU started three guards 6’2” or shorter. In fact, the only team with comparable size to CCSU was LIU-Brooklyn, which underperformed in NEC play finishing 9-9, but also had maybe the quickest player in the league in Jashaun Agosto.
I believe that Marshall will continue looking for those “long wings” as he has in each of his first three recruiting classes.
If you’re a frustrated fan looking toward next season, the first thing to do is go check out CCSU’s page on Verbal Commits. However, a bit of caution is warranted:
There are prospects there that are likely no longer being recruited by Donyell Marshall and his staff. Why? A variety of reasons; players don’t develop as expected, academic issues, or the big one- their stock took off. Take Tre Mitchell for example. Way back in July of 2017, Mitchell was a lightly-recruited big from Elizabethtown, PA. Now? He went to Woodstock Academy and developed into a Top 100 player, with his final 6 schools consisting of Indiana, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Providence, Syracuse, and UMass. Central Connecticut never stood a chance.
The positions listed are simply marketing ploys by the players. Here’s some cliffs notes:
Less than 50% of players with a “PG” next to their names are actually point guards. The others are shooting guards (example: Ian Krishnan was/is listed as a PG. He is not one.)
Players listed as a SG are probably “big wings” or “stretch 4’s” in the NEC. Kashaun Hicks comes to mind here.
The guys who call themselves Small Forwards? They're likely 4’s. Jamir Coleman, Joe Hugley, and Karrington Wallace fall into this category.
A 6’8” PF? Nah bro, you’re a center.
Listed as a “Center”? That player is likely a back-to-the-basket, limited offensive true 5. Hi, Deion Bute.
If you can, find the player on Twitter and watch some video. If you see a guy with a highlight reel full of dunks, he’s either poorly marketing himself or he can’t do much else. Focus on the skills, not the results (i.e. shot mechanics, quickness, shot selection, athleticism). This is how I became so intrigued by Ian Krishnan early on (you can go back and read my pre-season stuff, I always expected him to be the starter at the 2-guard). And just because a guy’s video shows him making 10 three-pointers…how many did he miss?
OK, so let’s talk players. First some words on the lone commit, Trey Tennyson; I’d be mildly surprised if he didn’t come in and immediately start opposite Ian Krishnan on the wing (yes, he’s listed as a PG, but just trust me on this). He’s got nice size for a guard (listed at 6’4”), and really shows a knack for scoring. What I like most is his lightning-quick release, but he’s also shown an ability to finish through contact and above the rim. He put up huge numbers on a good high school team in a good high school league, so it’s not like he’s just beating weak competition. He’s also got some swagger. My concerns? Can he do enough without the ball, as he will be no higher than the 3rd scoring option behind Jamir Coleman and Ian Krishnan, and is he a good passer and can he defend? I’ve seen him make every type of shot, but there’s only one ball (as Taliek Williams found out). I’m not saying he can’t fill a role without being a high usage player, but that’s a question of any high-scoring high school prospect.
Now to the players who remain unsigned, by position
Editor’s Note: I’ve watched video and read as much as I can about each of these players. For some guys, there’s plenty of info. For others, very little. I’m not a basketball scout, I’ve seen zero of these players play, and often times I’m making assumptions based on what I’ve seen and not seen. Take it all with a grain of salt.
David Kachelries- 6’1” 160 lbs.- Mineral Area College (JUCO soph.)- Kachelries played one season at NJIT in 2017-18, averaging just 7.1 mpg in 14 games, falling behind some really good underclassman guards on the depth chart. However, as a high school senior he held offers from a number of Ivy League (Brown, Dartmouth) and Patriot League (Bucknell, Lehigh, Holy Cross, among others) schools, in addition to Robert Morris and Sacred Heart. This wasn’t a lightly recruited player. As a sophomore at Mineral Area College (where Tyler Kohl played one season), he was named 1st Team MCCAC All-Conference and 1st Team NJCAA Region 16 after averaging 12.9 ppg and 6.8 apg. The PG shot 38% from three (38 for 100) and 77.2% from the free throw line, and had a 2.4 A/TO ratio. I’m prone to get irrationally invested into prospects, and this is currently my guy. I think he’d immediately step in as the starting PG as a guy who could make others better around him. His lone D1 offer currently is from CCSU, which tells me there’s more to the story, but I don’t really care. He’s also the lone unsigned PG who Central has offered in almost a year, which likely means he’s major priority for the staff (either that or they are comfortable rolling with Segwai and Ellis as the PGs).
***EDIT: Since writing the above, Kachelries committed to Stephen F. Austin. Damn.
Myles Baker- 6’2” 170 lbs.- Chicago- A star at famed Whitney Young HS, Baker will enter college as a knock-down shooter with the potential to become an all-around scorer. He doesn’t have elite athleticism, but his stroke is a thing of beauty; compact and no wasted motion. It is a bit of a set-shot, though he looks to have added more lift between in junior and senior seasons. It appears that the CCSU staff has continued to make him somewhat of a priority, though DePaul just offered in March- his first offer since summer 2018. Other teams that offered last summer include Drexel and Kent St.
Chris Freeman- 6’6” 180 lbs.- NW Kansas Tech (JUCO Soph.)- Freeman had previously committed to Fairfield, backing out upon the firing of Sydney Johnson and immediately receiving offers from CCSU, Bryant, Robert Morris, and UNC Asheville, with more likely on the way. The long, bouncy wing averaged 16.7 ppg and 5.0 rpg as a sophomore, though he wasn’t exactly efficient; he shot just 38.3% from the field and 28% (43 for 153) from three. He did get to the line a ton, taking 228 free throws and making 82.5% of them. He profiles has a high usage wing, someone who could come in and go get you a bucket.
Jacob Toppin- 6’7”- Woodstock Academy- The brother of Obi Toppin, the A-10 Rookie of the Year and NBA prospect, the younger Toppin is long and athletic who projects to be a rim protecting 4 at the college level. His stock has risen recently, with an offer from Rhode Island back in February, with Central Connecticut and Quinnipiac calling on him in March. He’s originally from Ossining, NY, which brought us Ken Horton. That worked out well.
Wayne Bristol, Jr.- 6’6”- St. Thomas More-NERR described Bristol as an “intriguing long-term prospect with good size and emerging shot-making ability” back in October. He’s definitely bouncy and has a nice looking stroke, with long arms and an ability to finish at the rim. Has to fill out physically and could struggle to find a defensive position, but if his jumper has developed he’d be interesting for sure. He was just recently offered by CCSU, with his only other D1 offer from USC Upstate back in June 2018.
Da’Shawn Phillip- 6’5”- Mt. Zion Prep- Phillip had an illustrious career at Dunbar HS in Baltimore, winning the MVP of the Maryland 1A State Finals and being named Baltimore Sun All Metro 1st team, however he was a non-qualifier academically which resulted in zero D1 offers and a prep year at Mt. Zion. 247 Sports described him has having a “great skill-set, length, versatility, toughness, and high IQ” and can “defend and play multiple positions”. I’ve not been able to find video, and have seen no mention of his ability to shoot from the perimeter.
Greg Outlaw- 6’4”- Chicago- Earned Get Buckets Chicago All-City Honorable Mention (along with Myles Baker)- Haven’t been able to find any video of him, though the recent CCSU offer was his first D1 offer in almost a year (Illinois-Chicago).
Jaren Phillips- 6’5” 205 lbs.- Tampa Prep- All has been quiet on the recruiting front for Phillips since the CCSU staff saw him on the grassroots circuit in July 2018. He’s likely an under-sized ‘4’ at the mid-major level, with good strength and solid finisher around the rim, but is likely not a guy who will stretch the defense. Was at one point rated a “4-Star” player, receiving an offer from Virginia Tech in March 2017. Based on the lack of offers since then, however, I’m assuming he didn’t develop as expected.
Brian Tolefree- 6’5”- Neosho County Community College (JUCO frosh)- Tolefree averaged 16.4 ppg and 4 rpg for Neosho as a freshman, earning 1st team All-Conference, shooting 32% from the 3-point line and 44% overall. He’s a qualifier with three years of eligibility remaining with offers from Western Illinois, Abilene Christian, and South Carolina St.
Xavier Wilson- 6’7” 185 lbs- The Hotchkiss School- Long and strong, Wilson shows solid offensive skills with a decent jumper that profiles as an ability to be a stretchy-4. However, he might be able to man the ‘5’, as he looks a bit heavier (in a good way) than the 185 lbs. that he’s listed at. One nit-pick; his highlight videos show a ton of mid-range jumpers. If you follow this site, you know that makes me cringe. But he at least projects as a guy who should be able to knock down perimeter jumpers when open.
Zion Tordoff- 6’8”– Casper College (JUCO soph.)- Tardoff, a lefty from Britain, averaged 7.4 ppg and 6.1 rpg for Casper, one of the top JUCO programs in the country. He’s strictly an inside player at this point, as he made just 4 of his 22 three-point attempts this season, but did shoot 48% from the field. Since being offered by Marshall back in January, he’s picked up offers from New Hampshire and, most recently, Marist.
Jamil Riggins- 6’6” 200 lbs.- Philadelphia- A big and strong lefty, Riggins verbally committed to Niagara and former CCSU assistant Chris Casey earlier this year. However, Casey was fired last week, and Riggins immediately de-committed. He previously had offers from a few other MAAC schools (Binghamton, Rider, St. Peter’s).
There are other guys who were at least one time on the staff’s radar, though it’s unclear if there remains mutual interest. Those guys:
PG- Jalen Hayes- 5’11” 185 lbs- Brandywine, MD
BW- Steve Wooten- 6’5” 180 lbs.- Mineral Area College (JUCO soph.)
F- Nate Spurlock- 6’7”- Massanutten Military Academy
F- Peter Sorber- 6’7” 220 lbs.- Lawrence Township, NJ
F- Jake Glezen- 6’8”- Loomis Chaffee
C- Kassem Ouedraogo- 6'11" 220 lbs.- Superior Collegiate Academy