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.


  1. Ref your #4 point. Adersteg (Sweden) & Asplund (Sweden). Go Noah


  2. RE:Offense: Gardiner/Toupane. 12-15 ppg each.......rest of 7-8 players could contribute 5-8 points each.......this is an early guesstimate, only. (I could see Dogan off the bench with an average of 10-12 ppg as well.)

    RE: that "thriller: Over Slippery Rock, I hope!!!


    IUP: Nice to see all the recent "events" put under the rug......One has to wonder WHAT ELSE took place down there.

  3. Hmmmm....This new group asks more questions than provides answers. Don't know what to think.

  4. I thought Mercyhurst roster was large with eighteen players well looks like will match them man for man. We are not going to let them one up GU. .

  5. Hard to really tell much of anything based on stats ... The maroon & gold game will be much more interesting with all the newbies. The large amount of international players allows us to possibly scrap the maroon & gold format in favor of a US vs. the World format. I agree with the possible large amount of red-shirts ... can't suit up 18; better to save a few players for next year.

    With Gannon & Mercyhurst having 18 players apiece, you could stage a basketball game and a football game going on simultaneously with these rosters.

    And when Emanuel Matey makes a shot, the PA announcer should scream "AHOY MATEY!!!"

    1. If he makes a turnover with the game on the line, the entire crowd will exclaim, "Arrrrgh Matey!" Maybe Gannon should have a pirate eye patch night as a promotion.

  6. With all this silence I'm guessing everyone is stunned :-)

    1. not so much stunned (well at the # of players, yes), but more, in my opinion, curious. Can't really jump to conclusions because as we've seen in the past - players have looked great on paper... and then the team crumbles OR the players aren't anything too spectacular on paper (i.e. - no real scorers) and then 1 or 2 of them step up big enough to help the defense to a 39-37 victory.

    2. I've learned the hard way to take recruiting announcements with a grain of salt and evaluate once we actually see them on the court in game action. Until a coach or school says about a recruit: "What can I say? This guy stinks, but all the good players were taken by other schools," then I'll start paying attention.

      But it's certainly not a waste of time to read ... it's interesting and fun to view the basic facts and to get to know the players and their backgrounds, but there is way too little data to arrive at any conclusions.

    3. Well in the last couple seasons the team looked shaky early but really came together as the year progressed. Hopefully these new players will come together rather quickly. We're all looking for another fun filled season.

  7. Cyril Clarke video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5X59Mbwcog#t=53
    Ian Gardener video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCdtjlJTiF0
    C.J. Asuncion-Byrd video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJuQU0TZelE

    1. Thanks. I just added those videos plus one of Max Kerr.

  8. roster listed... http://gannonsports.com/roster.aspx?path=mbball

    not much info, but we now know #'s and that the following have def returned
    #2 So. Eisendorf
    #4 So. Gadson
    #10 Sr. Bailey
    #12 Sr. Dogbo
    #15 Jr. Dogan
    #21 So. Jones
    #24 Sr. Toupane
    #33 Sr. Boykins
    #42 Fr(R) Adersteg

    Also, 18 players and a good mix of classes: (% of what that class makes up of the team)
    Frosh - 5 (28%)
    RS Frosh - 1 (6%)
    Soph - 2 (11%)
    RS Soph - 1 (6%)
    Jr - 4 (22%)
    Sr - 5 (28%)

  9. Thanks for sharing the roster link ...

    Funny ... Max Kerr is jersey number 25, the same number that Steve Kerr wore for the better part of his career.

    1. ya know I saw that and was trying to think if Steve was 5 or 25 for the majority of his time haha that is funny

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  11. There's a picture of the 2015-16 Golden Knights on Facebook.

  12. Just announced by GU. I wonder what size Gary Manchel wears?

    Gannon basketball fans can now purchase clothing to show your support for the upcoming season via an online clothing store. A variety of clothing is available such as hoodies, t-shirts, dri-fit shirts, shorts, polo shirts and much more.

    Lids Team Sports administers the online store that opened today (September 21) and will close Sunday, October 11. Clothing will not be available after this three-week purchasing window.

    Gannon fans can access the site at http://team-shop.lidsteamsports.com/form/show/GUMBBALL15.


    1. well for the most part... Kerr is #25, however, when you look at the team pic you will quickly realize he is NOT #25 in the picture lol he is one of the redshirts

  14. On Sunday, Oct. 18, at 6 PM, the Gannon basketball teams will host "KnightTime Madness" at the Hammermill Center. The event is free and open to the public.

    There will be interactive games, music, and a dance team performance but, more importantly from a basketball fan perspective, there will be a dunk contest, introductions of the Gannon basketball teams, and both head coaches speaking to the crowd.

    Here's the path to the complete press release: