Enough about who’s going. Niagara basketball can finally start talking about who’s coming.
New Purple Eagles coach Chris Casey has signed his first round of recruits, adding two guards and two forwards to a Niagara roster hit hard by defections following the departure of longtime head coach Joe Mihalich.
Aaron Bodie, a 6-foot-7 forward out of Newark, N.J., and Dominique Reid, a 6-8 forward from Erial, N.J., are among the four players Casey has brought into the fold. The recruiting class also includes a pair guards, 6-2 Karonn Davis of Philadelphia and 6-4 Emile Blackman of Dix Hills, N.Y. Blackman is transferring in from Casey’s previous coaching stop, LIU Post, and will sit out the coming season. He has three seasons of eligibility remaining.
“We have four solid players coming in,” Casey said. “They’re all going to contribute and they’re all going to be an important part of what we do. Going forward, we’re still going to keep recruiting. We still have scholarships and we’re going to keep working to fill them. We’ll keep evaluating, keep turning over rocks and try to find what we want to add to our team.”
Niagara gets back on the recruiting trail when the NCAA mandated “dead period” concludes after Memorial Day. Casey still has four scholarships at his disposal.
The signings come after perhaps the most tumultuous six weeks in the long history of Niagara basketball. The upheaval commenced when Mihalich left to take the head job at Hofstra and continued as four players – Juan’ya Green, Ameen Tanksley, T.J. Cline and Malcolm Lemmons – all received clearance to transfer from a program that won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season championship.
Green, a 1,000-point career scorer and all-MAAC guard, and Tanksley, the team’s leading rebounder, both followed Mihalich to Hofstra. Cline, a member of the MAAC all-freshman team, signed with Richmond. Lemmons, a reserve guard, remains uncommitted.
Bodie and Reid could help fill the gap created by the loss of Tanksley, Cline and last year’s starting center, Devon White. Bodie started three seasons at Newark Eastside High and played last year at Central Jersey Each One Teach One Academy. He averaged 12 points his last two seasons at Newark Eastside.
Reid averaged 20.1 points his junior season at Timber Creek High and is heralded as a an excellent ballhandler who can dribble and shoot with guard-like skill.
“Aaron is very, very athletic,” Casey said. “He’s good in transition, he rebounds the ball well and he’s got some strength to him. We feel as if he can come right in and give us some good minutes defensively and rebounding the ball. And Dominique, same. Dominique is a very physical front-court kid. So we’re looking for him to hopefully contribute right away, too.”
Davis looks like the prized catch of the freshman class, a player with attributes similar to those of the departed Green. He won two Pennsylvania Independent Schools state titles at Friend’s Central High. He averaged 19.2 points and 6.2 rebounds last year and was recruited by a number of mid-major programs.
“He can come in and play both guard spots,” Casey said. “He’s a very physical guard. He’s a strong, tough kid. Can get to the basket. Shoots the ball well enough. Guards different positions. And the most important thing that he does is he competes.”
Blackman, the nephew of Golden State head coach Mark Jackson, came on strong down the stretch of his freshman season at LIU Post. He averaged almost 17 points over the final six games, going 15 of 26 from three-point range during that time.
“He can score and he can score in a variety of ways,” Casey said. “He’s very athletic. He’s very good in transition and he shoots the ball well from the perimeter as you can see by his numbers.”
St. Bonaventure announced Thursday that it has signed Jalen Adams.He is a 6-4 guard who averaged 25 points and 13 rebounds his senior season at Arthur Hill High School in Saginaw, Mich.
“In terms of athleticism, Jalen is arguably the most explosive recruit we’ve signed during my tenure,” said Mark Schmidt, Bona’s seventh-year head coach “His vertical leap has been measured at 40 inches. He can slash to the basket, but also has the ability to elevate for highlight dunks. He’s a high-major athlete who needs to continue to develop his skill set. But overall, we’re extremely happy with Jalen’s signing and will be looking to take advantage of his great athleticism.”
The Bonnies previously signed Xavier Smith (6-7, Plano East High School, Texas), Andell Cumberbatch (6-4, Barton Kansas Community College, Kansas), Denzel Gregg (6-7, St. Thomas More Connecticut Prep, Conn.) and Chris Dees (6-8, New Mexico Junior College).