For this Off-season Update, we will be diving into the current state of the roster as transfers continue to be announced at a record breaking rate, due to lax restrictions as a result of Covid. We will talk transfers, current roster, and speculation on how the team might fill out in the coming months.
Shortly after the culmination of FGCU’s 2020-21 season, a couple of transfers were announced. The first of which was Qwanzi Samuels. This decision was a somewhat obvious one for some time now. The sophomore forward never really found his footing as an Eagle. From the start, it looked like he was a guy that needed a fair amount of development. Development largely comes in 2 ways; through in-game action and/or off-season workouts/practices. Samuels received a decent amount of minutes in his freshman season as he played in 24 games and even made 4 starts. Heading into his sophomore year, a player like Qwanzi would have benefitted tremendously from a true and full off-season regimen and/or consistent non-conference game minutes. With an immensely shortened offseason program and a significantly smaller schedule, there simply was not enough opportunity for Samuels to get his chances. The high-cieling forward will surely find a home where he can truly develop and grow his game The other player that chose to transfer from the team was Dom London. This one was much less obvious and, in many ways, perpetuated by the restrictions put in place to deal with Covid. London joined the team after 2 years of JUCO basketball. As a player transitioning to the size and speed of D-I ball, a true off-season and non-conference season to gel with his teammates and carve out a solid role would have been ideal. While that wasn’t able to happen, Dom still managed to be a part of the guard rotation and a spark off the bench. London was exciting the moment he stepped on the floor. His speed and confidence make him a likable player on both ends of the court. Dom averaged just 6 points per game on the season but had some big moments late in the season, dropped 22 against Webber International, and averaged 11 points in games where he played at least 20 minutes. Dom’s role for next season was up in the air and surrounded by competition. He likely hopes to find a home somewhere where he can have “the keys to the car” and really be the focal point of an offense.
In addition to these players, seniors Sam Gagliardi, Jalen Warren, and Justus Rainwater have all entered their names into the transfer portal as potential graduate students. These individuals were not expected back in the program though and filling their roster spots is already something that the coaching staff was planning to do.
The Current Roster
Teams have 13 scholarships to dole out at a given time. Factoring in the 4 seniors leaving the program and the 2 transfers listed above, FGCU has 7 returning scholarship players in Caleb Catto, Cyrus Largie, Franco Miller Jr, Dakota Rivers, Zach Anderson, Luis Rolón, and Victor Rosa. Additionally, the Eagles will have the services of mid-season transfer Andre Weir. With 4 years of eligibility, Weir is technically part of this upcoming 2021-22 recruiting class for FGCU. The Eagles will also be getting the services of highly touted freshman, Ja’Heim Hudson. These additions bring the team total to 9 scholarship players.
The Newest Eagle
Just a couple of weeks ago another addition to the roster was announced as Grad Transfer Matt Halvorsen tweeted that he would be playing his final season in the Green and Blue. Halvorsen joins the Eagles after 4 years at Western Carolina University. There, he played in 122 games, making 104 starts. For his career he is a 10 points per game scorer with 1266 points over his time in the NCAA. Most recently, he averaged 12 points and 3 rebounds. We will of course do a full Newcomer Article on him later in the off-season but for now, we can speculate that Halvorsen was brought in to replace the talents of Dom London as a lethal, confident, 3-point shooter.
Accounting for the 3 newcomers that have been announced. The Eagles currently have 3 scholarships available. These could go toward bringing in additional freshmen, signing transfers, and even pocketing 1 for a future mid-season transfer. We will speculate as to the specifics of who these players could be in our next Off-season Update. For now, we will finish up this article with a positional breakdown of the current roster to get an idea of the type of players that are possibly being looked at to fill out the team.
For starters (literally), it’s safe to assume that Luis Rolón is slated to start at PG for the Eagles. Another lock should be Caleb Catto and also Cyrus Largie. Dakota Rivers and Franco Miller project as likely starters as well. Beyond (and including) that, there will be a lot of competition. Fly’s preferred style of play would be a passing point guard (Comer), a scoring “2” guard (Thompson), a versatile G/F/Wing at the “3” (Jamail Jones), a stretch “4” (Fieler/Norelia), and an athletic, bouncy “5” (Morant/McKnight). More recently, based on personnel, the Eagles have employed a small ball lineup with 4 guards and 1 forward. As currently constructed, that would likely field a starting lineup of Rolón, Catto, Largie, and either Halvorsen or Miller in the last guard spot with Rivers manning the 5. With a full off-season of development and/or some additional players, a more traditional lineup could be utilized.
With the 10 players currently on scholarship, FGCU presently has 6 guards and 4 forward of varrying skillsets. For the forwards, Zach Anderson showed that he is a strong defender against really any position on the floor. He has the speed and quickness to play the 3 and also the strength to play the 4. Should his offensive game develop, he could either slide in as a wing at the “3” or as a stretch “4”. Andre Weir projects as a big-bodied and skilled “5”. Rivers has been the athletic, shot-blocking “5” but could slide down to a stretch 4 with some development. We know that Rivers can play the 5 but some development is required to bank on him as the 4. Similarly, we know Anderson can be a defensive stopper, but counting on his offensive development into a stretch 4 without exploring alternative options would be negligent. I fully expect a proven 4 to be brought in. This player will likely be a grad transfer with a lot of starting experience. This is something the Eagles don’t currently have much of (experience in the frontcourt) and something they have been without for too long (scoring from the forward spots).
For the guards, Rolón is the clear PG. Catto is a versatile guard who can handle some point duties. Halvorsen is a dynamite shooter who can also play with the ball in his hands. Largie is a versatile off-ball guard. Miller is a combo guard. And finally, Rosa is a developing, shooting, “2” guard. One luxury the Eagles had this past season was the ability to have multiple point guards on the floor at the same time. With Rolón and Miller set to return, I expect another point guard to be brought in to split time and spell either one of them without missing a beat.
With 2 of the 3 available scholarships likely going to a PG and a “4”, I think the 3rd will either be extended to another freshman or pocketed for use on a potential mid-season transfer. Obviously all of this is speculation of course.
Next up in our Off-season Updates, we will take some stabs at specific players the Eagles could be targeting, based on the content of this article, twitter activity, and information available via recruiting sites.