The mass exodus from the Niagara men’s basketball program continued over the weekend as freshman forward TJ Cline tweeted that he’s landed at Richmond of the Atlantic 10. That came on the heels of All-MAAC guard Juan’ya Green and his lifelong friend and Niagara teammate Ameen Tanksley joining former Purple Eagles coach Joe Mihalich at Hofstra. They will sit out next season and be eligible in 2014-15.
Cline’s departure means five players off Niagara’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season title team won’t be back next season. Guard Malcolm Lemmons also has been granted his release and center Devon White has graduated. Meanwhile, freshman guard Tahjere McCall, a starter at the point much of last season, remains with the program and sources say has not requested his release.
Here are the numbers on what Niagara has lost since Mihalich took the Hofstra job last month:
• Green: 16.5 ppg, 5.0 apg
• Tanksley: 11.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg
• Cline: (all-freshman team) 7.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg
• Lemmons: 3.3 ppg
• White: 5.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg
That makes it some 44 points per game departed. Niagara has retained leading scorer Antoine Mason (18.7) but has mega-holes to fill between now and the season opener. New coach Chris Casey has signed Philadelphia guard Karonn Davis and continues to work feverishly to fill out a slew of other roster spots.
Hoftra also added incoming freshman Jamall Robinson, originally a Niagara recruit.
“This is a very exciting day for the Hofstra basketball program,” Mihalich said in a news release last week. “The addition of Juan’ya, Ameen and Jamall to our team gives us three additional outstanding student-athletes to showcase to the Hofstra community.”