After reading reports this morning confirming that Naofall Folahan was released from his scholarship at Wagner, I quickly tweeted out that this was simply another role player leaving a NEC program. It was no big deal, in my opinion, that the biggest transfers of the conference consisted of the following: Folahan, Eric Fanning, Kelvin Parker, Josh Castellanos and Adonis Burbage. With all due respect, those players were all nothing more than solid contributors to their team’s rotation. No big loss for the conference.
That is until I read about the following news:
Per a New Britian Herald report by Matt Schaub and a Hartford Courant report by Mike Anthony, Kyle Vinales will transfer from Central Connecticut with two years of eligibility remaining. The 6’1″ shooting guard from Detroit led the NEC last season with 21.6 points and 38.2 minutes played per game, and was elected to the All-NEC first team for his excellent efforts.
From reading Anthony’s report, it sounds like head coach Howie Dickenman and the CCSU community were caught completely off guard with the news. It’s likely that Vinales will be courted by several major basketball programs, much like Maine’s Justin Edwards has been the past few weeks.
Both Vinales and Adonis Burbage have asked for their release from CCSU this offseason, and it leaves the Blue Devils rife with inexperience on the roster. Matthew Hunter, an All-NEC third team selection, becomes the leading player with Vinales’ departure, yet many will now wonder about the status of the dynamic, playmaking wing moving forward. Vinales was instrumental in bringing Hunter to the CCSU campus – both are close friends and former AAU teammates – but with a decimated lineup sans Vinales and Burbage, will Hunter decide to exhaust his final year of eligibility at a rebuilding program?
As for Dickenman, well his approval ratings have seen better days. (Just head to the CCSU basketball forum for confirmation.) He signed an extension last year to be the Blue Devils coach through the 2015-16 season, so his job is safe. But since their NEC championship in 2007, CCSU has failed to mimic that success even with all-conference talents like Ken Horton, Robby Ptacek, and Vinales featured on the roster. Now with Vinales leaving in search of a winning program, CCSU is officially in full rebuild mode. The starting lineup of the 2013-14 season currently projects out to be:
PG: Malcolm McMillan
SG: Khalen Cumberlander (assuming he’s fully recovered from a torn ACL he suffered last November)
SF: Terrell Allen
PF: Matt Hunter
C: Brandon Peel
Without the firepower of Vinales, I will bump CCSU down to eighth in my preseason rankings behind St. Francis Brooklyn and Sacred Heart. And if Hunter decides to leave New Britain in the coming weeks, I would be inclined to push St. Francis (PA) in eighth place ahead of the Blue Devils. So much for my original sleeper team of the 2013-14 season.
Ryan Peters covers Northeast Conference men’s basketball for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride