Over the off-season, we at Screecher Report have helped to introduce you to the new talent that FGCU Men’s Hoops has acquired this summer. Now, as the season approaches, we want to take a look at the returning players and what they could bring to the table this year.
After an impressive freshman season, Zach Anderson returns as a sophomore looking to expand his role and subsequent production. Last year, the 6’7″ / 205 lb forward/wing surprised many people with rare aptitude on the defensive end. Typically, defense can be a difficult component of the game for freshmen to really grasp on the DI college level. For Zach, he quickly became maybe the most versatile on-ball defender FGCU has had since a player like Kevin Mickle (2015-17). Zach also flashed quickness and the ability to play on the perimeter. Despite showing his raw ability and potential, the truth of the matter (for any incoming freshman last year) is that the hampered off-season and drastically altered/shortened regular season hindered what was otherwise a promising freshman campaign. Statistically, he finished the year having played in every game (18) and averaging 3 points, 4 rebounds, and almost 1 steal.
Going forward, there is plenty to build off of. Zach flashed a lot of ability and versatility. Now it’s time see consistency.
“Coming in as a freshman there isn’t much time to adapt. If feels good now in year 2 having full summer workouts and practice. I feel like I did my job last year but a full summer makes a difference. I feel like I had a good freshman year but I want a great one. I didn’t shoot a very high percentage, like I’m capable of, so that’s something I’ve been working on. My role is defined by coach. My job is to do exactly what he needs me to do. We all want to win that ‘ship! We’re a really good group of guys, not just on the court but off of it as well. Everyone is connected and if we transfer that energy to the court, we’re a really hard team to beat.”Zach Anderson
It’s not unreasonable to suggest that Cyrus Largie’s story from walk-on to PPG Leader is FGCU’s best since Sherwood Brown (2009-13) accomplished that same feat on the way to the University’s famous Sweet 16 run and an ASUN POY designation in 2013. But his feel-good story is only part of what makes him a fan favorite.
To recap, Largie joined FGCU as a freshman for the 19-20 academic year. He surprisingly started earning minutes in the beginning of the season. Those minutes increased and turned into 4 late-season starts and impressive performances down the stretch. His performance culminated in Coach Fly offering him a scholarship after the season ended.
As a sophomore, that scholarship-player designation came with some increased expectations. For Cyrus, this was a non-issue. He started all 18 games and led the team in PPG (13.3), increasing his scoring average by nearly 10 points from hear 1 to year 2. Additionally, Cyrus further proved his position versatility and the ability to play the 4 in “small-ball” lineups, averaging 6 rebounds per game.
Now, in seemingly no time, Largie is already set to begin his junior season. Despite experience success, he has me er lost the original grit and drove that earned him those initial minutes that blossomed into him being a team leader. Going forward, Cy’s arrow remains pointing up and it will be exciting to see what this season has in store.
“At this stage in my college career, it feels like all the hard work I’ve put in is coming together. This off-season, I’ve been working on my game and expanding it, but also working hard to connect and build chemistry with the newer guys. My role is to play hard and compete at a high level and that will never change. I want to do my part to help us won games. I want to be better than I was last year and, as a team, we want to win a championship.”Cyrus Largie
Franco Miller joined the team last year as a redshirt sophomore and a transfer from Ole Miss. In his first year as an Eagle, Franco played in 15 games, making 8 starts and averaging about 6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal per game in less than 18 minutes per game. These numbers don’t necessarily jump out at you, but there is a lot to be encouraged by. For one, Franco proved to be a true combo guard, with the ability to seamlessly swap between playing the point or an off-ball guard position. Additionally, using a little bit of math, his “per 30” is more like 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game, in what was really his 1st season getting real collegiate minutes.
This year Franco enters his redshirt junior season, looking to take that next step in his development. Last year, he flashed the ability to to finish through contact, shoot from the perimeter, and play some really solid defense, among other things. Improving or adding consistency in any of these areas would take Franco’s game to the next level. It will be fun to watch that come to fruition this year. With at least 2 years of athletic eligibility left, Franco has the opportunity to show what he can do and impress a lot of people on the way.
As a freshman, Victor’s game action was limited. He played in just 12 games, averaging less than 8 minutes. Statistically, this amounted to just 2 points and 1 rebound per game. However, Victor’s contribution heated up near the end of the season as he got his feet wet. In two late-season conference games against North Alabama and Kennesaw State, Victor combined to average about 8 points and 3 rebounds on 5/12 (42%) from beyond the arc.
With a modest, covid-altered freshman season. Victor has the opportunity to take a huge step this year, with a full off-season under his belt. His 6’5″ / 190 pound frame projects as a college 2/3 and he showed that ability last year. If Victor’s 3-point shot finds some consistency, it will be hard to take him off the floor.
Luis Rolón is set to enter his sophomore year after showing a ton of potential and skill as a freshman. The flashy, smart passer quickly took the reigns of the offense for the Eagles last season, though a mid-season knee injury hindered him down the stretch. On the season, he played in 11 games, making 8 starts and averaging about 4 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals in 25 minutes per game. As a facilitator and a guy who can come up with timely steals on the defensive end, Luis was extremely impressive.
Now, entering his sophomore season, Luis is in a good position to succeed. For one, his knee should be healthier. And two, Luis has a lot more help this year. Between him, Franco Miller, Caleb Catto, and newcomers Tavian Dunn-Martin and Matt Halvorsen, FGCU has a lot of options for who they want taking the ball down the court. Additionally, the added depth in the frontcourt gives a guy like Rolón even more weapons to distribute the ball to in the paint. For him to take that next step, Luis will need to show health and improvement from a scoring standpoint.
It seems like not too long ago, the tall, lanky top-knot wearing kid from cape coral was joining FGCU as a freshman. Over his first 3 season, Caleb has grown physically, in maturity, and as an all-around basketball player.
To recap, he joined the squad in 2018. As a freshman, he played in every game, making no starts, but receiving quality minutes. As a sophomore, Caleb’s confidence started to come out. Not only did he play in every single game but also started all 32 contests, raising his PPG by over 10 and finishing with a 12.7 PPG average. Last year, Caleb impressed again, starting all 18 games and averaging a career-best 13.3 PPG.
Projecting Caleb’s senior season could go a lot of ways. There are plenty of scenarios where his numbers are off the charts. There are an equal number of scenarios where paper-based stats might dip for him as well. One thing that’s for certain is that Caleb’s unselfish, efficient style of play will always benefit the team. For the senior, it’s about growth, connections, and doing what’s best for the good of the team on their journey to winning as many basketball games as they can.
It has been great to get back on the court this off-season and do what I love. We have so many experienced guys this year and chemistry has come a lot quicker. It has been a blur these past few years. A very surreal feeling. I really want to be in the present and to enjoy the little things this year. Strengthen those connections with teammates and coaches. It’s fun to play with these guys and at the end of the day, we’re all coming together for a common goal. We’ve talked about sacrifice a lot this off-season. We have talent but we have to buy in and if everyone does that, we’ll have a special year.”Caleb Catto
How much Dakota Rivers has already accomplished in his short FGCU career is impressive, especially considering that it has really only been about 1 ½ seasons. Dakota arrived on Campus as a freshman in 2019, looking tall, lean, and athletic. He quickly flashed his ability in very limited minutes. That year, he playing in 30 games, making no starts, and playing under 13 minutes per contest. Despite the lack of minutes, Dakota still totalled 39 blocked shots. To put that in perspective, had he averaged 30 minutes per game, in theory, he would have finished the season with a staggering 94 blocked shots. Beyond blocks, Dakota flashed his leaping/dunking ability and an occasional 3-point shot in that 1st year.
Year 1 to year 2 is often when athletes take a significant step forward in their development. Like many across the country last year, Dakota was denied the benefits of a traditional off-season and some of that aforementioned development was harder to come by. Still, Dakota improved in virtually all areas in his second year. He played in all 18 games, making 4 starts, and averaging just under 18 minutes played. His averages increased to 7 points, 3 rebounds, and over 2 blocks per game. In a full season, we would likely have set records related to shot-blocking.
Now, heading into his junior season, Dakota has gained valuable experience, showcased his talent, and also has a ton of room to grow. His ability to put up his numbers in very limited minutes would suggest that all he needs is more opportunity. But Dakota would be the first to acknowledge areas for improvement.
“Since I’ve come here, my goal has been to gain weight. I came it at about 185 pounds and now I’m about 210 so I feel like I’ve done that. This offseason I have emphasized rebounding. Someone at my height and with my athleticism needs to be a way better rebounder. I’ve been working on my post moves and also trying to get better at guarding the perimeter and with my lateral quickness so I can play more “4” and not just the 5.”Dakota Rivers
Even in a stacked frontcourt, Dakota has a lot of opportunity to carve out a bigger role this upcoming season. For the first time in a while, it looks like FGCU is in a place where it’s increasingly tough for opponents to key on specific players. This could open up the door for Dakota to take the next step in his development.
“I want to do everything I can to help the team win. I want to be the most athletic player on the court because I worked for that. Stats will come but it has to result in a win for it to matter.”Dakota Rivers
Stay Tuned 👀
Thank you for your continued support of Screecher Report! As the season starts up, we have a lot of content coming your way. Next up, we switch gears for an FGCU Women’s Basketball Returning Player Preview. We will have a podcast coming out with our 3rd annual “Gut Gamble” (loosely predicting W/L for Men’s Hoops based on nothing but gut feeling). Additionally, you can expect some good video content as well as game previews for the double header this coming Tuesday (11/9). Stay tuned!