Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Now We Know Who To Root For -- Knights Announce 2015 Recruiting Class

New Gannon PG Emmanuel Matey (right). Baltimore Sun pic
Gannon announced its 2015 recruiting class today, and the more I looked at the list the more interesting I found the group. Let's glance at each player then I'll share my top-of-mind thoughts on the class. Between now and the regular season, I plan to add details to each player's bio, so check back to this page often.

William Asplund F, 6-9, 235, jr., (Sodertalje, Sweden/Igelstavikens Gymnasium)
  • Transfer from Division II Clayton State (Ga.) where he started 8 games last season
  • Averaged 2.4 ppg and 3.7 rpg in 19.5 minutes of play as a sophomore
  • Had bigger numbers as a freshman when he started all 26 games: 3.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 27.2 mpg
  • CSU was 15-12 last year and 10-16 in 2013-14
  • Had the highest GPA on the Clayton State team
  • Member of the Swedish National U18 and U20 championship teams

C.J. Asuncion-Byrd PG, 6-3, 200, fr. (Greenwich, Conn./St. Thomas More)
  • While Byrd is a freshman, he graduated from high school in 2014 and spent last year at St. Thomas More prep school 
  • STM posted a 26-7 regular season mark last season
  • Was All-Metro honorable mention his senior year at Greenwich HS 
  • Updated 9/7/15: In this high school tape, he plays point guard -- and is ultra-aggressive when he has the ball. He has a little bit of Vinnie Johnson in him, a stocky guard who looks to make things happen around the rim or mid-range.

Cyril Clarke F, 6-6, 190, soph. (Tema, Ghana/Nandom)
  • Was part of the University of Ghana team that won the Ghana Universities Sports Association (GUSA) Championship
  • Named Most Valuable Player of the GUSA Championship
  • When he leaves Gannon, I promise to headline the blog post on that story "Clarke A Ghana." Hopefully that's three years from now after he graduates.  
  • Updated 9/7/15: Here's a brief video of Clarke in action. It's shows some of the most unusual basketball venues I've ever seen.

Joe Fustine 6-3, 190, fr. (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Prep)
  • Averaged 12.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.3 bpg and 1 spg as a senior at Prep
  • Named to the all-region first team last season

Ian Gardener G, 6-5, 195, fr. (Norwalk, Conn./St. Thomas More)
  • Like C.J. Byrd, Gardener graduated from high school in 2014 and spent last year at St. Thomas More prep school 
  • Scored 1,344 points during his high school career, earning all-state honors twice 
  • Updated 9/7/15: In this YouTube highlight video from high school, Gardener looks like a man among boys.

Max Kerr G, 5-10, fr. (Erie, Pa./McDowell)

Kevin Kuteyi G, 6-1,175, jr. (Lanham, Md./Duval)
  • Juco transfer from Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa where he was named team MVP and Offensive Player of the Year
  • This short video of him playing AAU ball in 2012 shows the kid certainly has athletic ability, a good stroke, an Adam Blazek-level perimeter head fake, and Steve Moyer range. I'm not kidding; several of Kuteyi's made threes are a legit 4-5 steps behind the arc.
  • Led team with 11.8 ppg while also tallying 2.5 rpg, 2 apg and 1.5 spg
  • Hit 38.8 percent (62-of-160) of his three-point attempts
  • As a freshman at Barton Community College (Kan.), he averaged 9.2 ppg and 2.5rpg
  • Led Duval (Md.) High School his senior year with averages of 18 ppg, 5 rpg, and 5 apg

Emmanuel Matey PG, 5-10, 190, jr. (Lanham, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt)
  • Transfer from Division I Morgan State
  • I found this highlight video of him from high school. The kid can really dish the rock, but an explanation why John Reilly recruited him comes at the 38-second mark.
  • Averaged 2.1 ppg, 2.5 apg, and 1.2 rpg in about 14 minutes of play over 29 games as a sophomore last season
  • Dished out at 8+ assists in a game three times, including a season-high 11 vs. Coppin State
  • As a freshman, averaged 7.6 minutes over 26 games, averaging less than 1 ppg and 1 rpg
  • Helped Eleanor Roosevelt HS win the Prince George's County title and Maryland 4A state championship. (Note: Reilly hails from PG County.)
  • Set the school's single-game and single-season assist records, while leading the Raiders to a 27-1 mark and first state title since 2002
  • Averaged 4.5 ppg as a high school senior


Cheick Thiero F, 6-9, 245, sr. (Freeport, Ill./Arlington Country Day)
  • A big body but he doesn't have big stats
  • Gannon will be his 4th school in 4 years
  • Is a DI transfer from UC-Riverside where he played 16 games, averaging 1.6 ppg and 1.5 rpg
  • You can watch him in action here, including clips against 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye of NCAA tourney entrant UC-Irvine
  • In 2013-14 at Tallahassee Community College, he played 14 games averaging 1.8 ppg and 1.6 rpg while shooting 71% from the field
  • As a freshman at Highland Community College-Illinois, he averaged 2.1 ppg and 2.5 rpg in 26 games
  • As a high school senior, he helped Arlington Country Day win the Illinois state championship


Here's what jumped out to me (listed in order of how they popped into my brain) when I reviewed the recruiting class:

1. Nine players? That's way more than I expected, especially with 9 returnees already on the roster. The guy sitting on the end of the bench (a subject I'm very familiar with) may end up in the concession stand for home games.

2. Order extra redshirts. I think up to 5 players could redshirt this season which would leave the Knights loaded for next year with only 4 seniors on the 2015-16 roster (Thiero plus returnees Cory Bailey, Tony Boykins, and Jean Yves Toupane).

3. John Reilly continues to like international players. Asplund from Sweden and Clarke from Ghana will complement current Knights Toupane (Senegal), Jon Dogbo (France) and Gabriel Adersteg (Sweden).

4. Noah (from Noah's Ark fame) would love this class. There are three sets of twos. Fustine and Kerr are both Erieites, Byrd and Gardener both attended St. Thomas More prep school, and Kuteyi and Matey are natives of Lanham, Md.

5. There's some pretty good -- and surprising size. The past two years the Knights found success with a front line that as beefy but not tall. While Gannon's forwards last were in the 6-foot-6 range, Asplund and Thiero are listed at 6-foot-9.

6. Who's going to put the ball in the basket? We don't have stats on all the newcomers, but some of the numbers we do have are anemic. Then again, the Gannon defense was ranked #1 in DII play last year by allowing a measly 55.6 ppg, so who needs a ton of offense? Maybe these new faces will propel Gannon to a regional title in a 43-42 thriller at the Hammermill. In overtime.