Jun 19, 2018

I have this "fine, I'll do it myself" part to my personality that's SUPER lame. You've seen it before on here. Ron Zook doesn't understand how field position is hurting his team of future NFL players? I WILL BE THE ONE TO TELL HIM. I'm having similar feelings towards the basketball frontcourt next season, and a fifth-year transfer seems like the perfect solution, but we don't seem to be pursuing any, and it's driving me nuts, so fine, I'll do it myself.

I spent the last few hours researching as many available fifth-year transfers as I could find. We have three available scholarships right now, and fifth year transfer could use that scholarship and then leave it open for the 2019 class, so really, we could add three right now and even if they only score one point all season it would be worth it. We're down to one player taller than 6'-6", and he (Giorgi) is a freshman project who probably won't be ready to play much, and I can feel myself hyperventilating because WHY HAVEN'T WE ADDED A FIFTH-YEAR TRANSFER FOR THE FRONTCOURT?

I mean, I get it if you're taking the long view. You'd rather develop a freshman who will be with you for four years than bring in a one-year guy who will be gone in March and you have to start over again. If we were adding several freshman bigs right now, I'd understand that over a fifth-year guy.

But it's June 19th, and most players have already enrolled for summer school, and we still have those open scholarships, and there are still a few fifth years available, and we only have one guy taller than 6'-6", and, I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but fifth-years are FREE...

OK, let's just get to the research.

First off, I started with this list of available transfers. I sorted that list by the "eligible immediately" kids and then cut-and-pasted those names into an Excel document so I could play around with the data. I removed all of the players who had transferred down to Juco or Division II/III (to get an idea just how many D-I fifth-year transfers there were this year - 173), and then I removed all of the players who have already transferred somewhere. That left me with 60 players.

But some of those were guards, and we don't really need any more guards. Our current roster is eight guards/wings and one big. So let's dump the guards.

THAT left me with 22 players. 22 still-available bigs. I knew that some of these were going to be players who were asked to leave (they've played four years, they have one year of eligibility left, but the coach wants to use their scholarship for someone else so he tells them their four years are up and it's time to move on), so then I had to research each player and see what kind of stats they put up.

Here's that list:

  • Djery Baptiste (6'-10") averaged 3.1 ppg and 3.6 rpg at Vanderbilt last season
  • Adonis De La Rosa (7'-0") averaged 11.8 ppg and 7.6 rebounds at Kent State last season
  • Kiir Deng (6'-9") averaged 1.9 ppg and 2.2 rpg at Louisiana-Monroe last season
  • Ellis Dozier (6'-8") averaged 0.5 ppg at Ohio University last season.
  • Devenir Duriusseau (6'-8") averaged 0.4 ppg and 0.9 rpg at Washington in 2016/17 and sat out last season.
  • Dan Dwyer (6'-8") played in 8 games as a senior and then missed the rest of the season at Penn last year. Technically could get a 5th year of eligibility.
  • Alex Ennis (6'-10") averaged 1.2 ppg and 2.0 rpg at Morgan State last season.
  • Hassan Hussein (6'-9") averaged 5.5 ppg and 3.2 rpg at Florida International last season.
  • Otas Iyekekpolor (6'-8") averaged 1.3 ppg and 1.2 rpg at Central Arkansas last season.
  • Alassane Kah (6'-9") averaged 1.5 ppg and 1.1 rpg at Old Dominion last season.
  • Josh Martin (6'-7") averaged 7.4 ppg and 5.0 rpg at Cal Poly last season.
  • Jalen Morgan (6'-8") averaged 3.2 ppg and 2.2 rpg at Western Illinois last season.
  • Marcel Pettway (6'-6") averaged 10.3 ppg and 6.8 rpg at Bryant in 2017, transferred to Nevada last year, didn't get in.
  • Ramses Sandifer (6'-8") averaged 1.1 ppg and 1.1 rpg at Louisiana Monroe last season.
  • Valentine Sangoyomi (6'-8") averaged 0.6 ppg and 1.2 rpg at Houston last season.
  • Casey Schlatter (6'-10") averaged 4.1 ppg and 3.3 rpg at Drake last season.
  • Kerwin Smith (6'-10") averaged 1.2 ppg and 1.1 rpg at Grand Canyon last season.
  • Matz Stockman (7'-2") averaged 2.2 ppg and 1.5 rpg at Louisville in 2017. Transferred to Minnesota, sat out last season, is transferring again.
  • Ibrahim Sylla (6'-8") averaged 0.5 ppg and 0.9 rpg at Northern Colorado last season.
  • Ezra Talbert (6'-8") averaged 2.1 ppg and 1.2 rpg at Liberty last season.
  • Reid Travis (6'-8") averaged 19.5 ppg and 8.7 rpg at Stanford last season (forget it - he's deciding between Nova and Kentucky).
  • Austin Weiher (6'-8") averaged 2.5 ppg and 1.0 rpg at Southern Illinois last season.

I think we can look at that list and determine that Deng, Dozier, Duriusseau, Ennis, Iyekekpolor, Kah, Morgan, Sandifer, Sangoyomi, Smith, Sylla, Talbert, and Weiher were probably the "son, I'm going to need your scholarship for someone else next season" variety. Or at least the "this coach made me the 12th man and I only played in seven games" variety. So those can be tossed out.

Which means we're down to nine possibilities. OK, eight, because Reid Travis is transferring up to either Kentucky or Villanova. Well, seven - I'm not sure Dwyer is even playing basketball anymore - he's just a technicality (could be granted a sixth year if he applies).

Who are these seven? And are they really "possibilities". Technically, yes, but I'm not sure if we have any interest (or they have any interest). You know, I love rankings, so let's rank them. No, really - I'm going to rank seven players who might have graduated, moved on to a job in New York City, and happen to google themselves someday to find their name in an Illini article about possible fifth-year transfers.

  1. Adonis De La Rosa - Just announced he was transferring from Kent State last week, 7' tall, averaged 12 and 8 last year in the MAC. The main drawback - he apparently tore his ACL in February and is currently rehabbing, hoping to be ready by November. Also, he went from St. John's to juco to Kent State and now a fifth-year destination. Could we get him past admissions?
  2. Djery Baptiste - Played 15 minutes per game off the bench for Vanderbilt last year but saw the writing on the wall with five-star forward Simi Shittu arriving on campus. He plans to graduate in December and immediately transfer somewhere where he would have a year and a half of eligibility left (play from Christmas-on this year and then the full season next year).
  3. Marcel Pettway - He transferred to Nevada from Bryant University last year but apparently was never admitted. I found a few rumblings online saying that he was hoping to get into Nevada this year, but I guess that never happened. So chalk this one up as a slim chance he could qualify at a Big Ten school. (But also chalk it up as "a player who might actually help if there was some way we could get him in".)
  4. Josh Martin - A former Minnesota player who transferred to Cal Poly and is now looking for a different destination for his fifth year. I don't know much beyond "he's taller than everyone on our roster not named Giorgi", but that's enough for me if we're looking at fifth-years. Remember, one point all season is better than an open scholarship.
  5. Casey Schlatter - Yes, I would take a player who was buried on the bench at Drake. He played 14 minutes per game last year at Drake but is transferring for his fifth year, likely looking for more minutes elsewhere. Hey Casey, did you know that Illinois has one guy taller than 6'-6" on the entire roster? Did you know that one point all season is better than an open scholarship?
  6. Matz Stockman - Originally recruited to Louisville to play for Rick Pitino, he transferred last year to play for Richard Pitino. But after sitting out his transfer year, he's now transferring again (likely because Minnesota needs his scholarship for someone else). So he didn't make the rotation at Louisville and was possibly forced out at Minnesota - is he worth a scholarship for a year? He's 7'-2" - that's a resounding "yes" from me.
  7. Hassan Hussein - Yes, we're scraping the bottom of the barrel now (a transfer who only averaged five points per game at Florida International?), but I'm desperate. We're desperate. We need big bodies, even if only to practice.

I know what you're going to say. "Just last week you were telling us how Brad Underwood only played one guy over 6'-7" at Oklahoma State and now you're desperate for multiple guys over 6'-7" this winter". Yes, that is true. Underwood didn't really play many "bigs" at Stephen F. Austin or Oklahoma State. He'll use guys like Tevian Jones and Kipper Nichols as his "bigs". Yes, I still need to acclimate to the new scheme.

But I don't think he wants to be completely devoid of bigs. And I don't think Giorgi is ready, which means that if he's going to play that "one guy over 6'-7" tall", it probably has to come from a fifth-year transfer. And it's June 19th and I'm not sure we've even recruited one.

So I took the matter into my own hands. There's the list. I think several guys could help us. I hope we investigate them thoroughly.

Because, you know, even one point......


McAdoo on June 19 @ 10:49 PM CDT

The names that jump out to me are Stockman and Pettway with De La Rosa a kind of distant third due to his injury. Even the harshest Rick Pitino critic has to admit that he can recognize basketball talent and he once wanted Stockman on his team. Pettway has averaged more than 10 points per game at the D-1 level and was wanted by a program that just went to the Sweet 16 (And probably, if we want to be honest, should have beat Loyola to make it into the Elite 8). However, he is on the shorter side of what Illinois might be looking for at just 6-feet-6. And, as Robert noted, he couldn't get in to Nevada. Finally, there is De La Rosa. The ACL return timetable seems to have been shortened from 12 months down to 9 or 10. If De La Rosa can come back and be ready to play in November (Or even if it is a little later, say for maybe a certain game in St. Louis), he could be a significant addition.

All of this analysis, however, does not mean anything if Underwood thinks he already has the team he wants for 2018-19. Basketball is changing and the traditional post player may never return to being the asset it once was. However, ignoring height and/or size just for the sake of ignoring those things won't get Illinois back on track.

Lou-a-villini on June 19 @ 10:53 PM CDT

What are the odds that Samba returns?

Eagle on June 20 @ 08:47 AM CDT

Samba said he only needs one class this summer and needs to get an A. If that's the one thing keeping him from getting major minutes in the B1G next year, he'll get it done. I'd guess it's 90%.

thumpasaurus on June 20 @ 10:08 AM CDT

I'd love to believe this because it sounds optimistic and concrete. I'm not saying I don't, but you understand; if you can't verify something you see on message boards, you can't take it as fact.

I'm emotionally prepared for Samba to never return only because this kind of thing has burned us so many times

Lou-a-villini on June 20 @ 04:03 PM CDT

What is the class and how many tutors does he need?? ??

Groundhogday on June 20 @ 09:11 PM CDT

Coaches, Whitman and Samba are confident. I'm never confident in these kinds of situations, but it does sound promising. If we lost Samba...

Bear8287 on June 21 @ 10:42 AM CDT

... we'd probably have to look to Rumba or Cha-Cha-Cha, otherwise the Illini could be out of rhythm all season.

mrmill on June 21 @ 09:20 PM CDT

You are probably right, but these coaches rarely seem to have a pulse on reality.

skibdaddy on June 21 @ 09:31 PM CDT

Yuck. None of these guys would do much and could do more damage to the team dynamic than they're worth. I'm going to trust Bead to do what's best for the team.

thumpasaurus on June 22 @ 10:38 AM CDT

they don't need to do much.

all they need to do is "more than literally nothing"

i don't think brad's ideal roster has three open scholarships. i get being careful about how you evaluate recruits, but i keep hearing this general narrative that the roster turnover is due to guys leaving who "didn't have what it takes to play for Brad Underwood," whether it be some kind of toughness or attitude or what it is.

and that's fine, unless brad is incapable of finding thirteen players that meet these qualifications. he can't keep fielding teams with multiple open scholarships; it's straight up malfeasance. find a way to win with what you have.

Norcal Illini on July 02 @ 05:35 PM CDT

Looks like they were listening to you and got the guy at the top of your list!

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