Assessing Robert Morris After Marcquise Reed’s Transfer

The first major transfer domino of the NEC offseason dropped on the eve of Good Friday when the reigning NEC Rookie of the Year decided to take his talents to a bigger stage.

Per Marcus Helton of

// Reed, as one NEC head coach recently put it, was a player “who came around in the NEC once every ten years.” He was that good with his fantastic blend of athleticism, shiftiness and shot making. He was the second NEC freshman in the past decade to average more than 15 ppg (Kyle Vinales averaged 17.9 ppg as a rookie for Central Connecticut during the 2011-12 campaign), but it was Reed’s efficiency that made him stand out among a terrific freshmen class inside the conference. He torched league opponents with shooting percentages of 50.0% 2PT/47.4% 3PT/85.1% FT, even though he shot the ball 216 times this season (10.3 shots/game).

He also brought tremendous value on the defensive side of the ball, adapting well in the 2-3 zone Robert Morris frequently implemented. His 4.1% steal rate (26th nationally among all Division I players) and manageable foul rate of 3.0 fouls committed per 40 minutes was evidence of that. Quite simply, Reed would have been a preseason All-NEC first teamer heading into his sophomore season and that isn’t easy to do.

Marcquise Reed (center) has decided to continue his collegiate career elsewhere. (Photo courtesy RMU Sentry Media)
Marcquise Reed (center) has decided to continue his collegiate career elsewhere. (Photo courtesy Kyle Gorcey, RMU Sentry Media)

Reed leaving the Northeast Conference in general isn’t good for a league trying to push itself off the hapless 16-seed line, but moving on from the one-bid conference likely made sense for the electric 6’3” guard. His size and skill set should translate well at a bigger program, perhaps for a program residing inside the Atlantic 10, Big East, or even bigger than that. In the Colonials’ four power conference games – Duke, Clemson, Georgetown and North Carolina — this season, Reed shined mightily versus the big boys, scoring 76 points (19 ppg) on 30 of 60 shooting (50%) while committing just six turnovers. Up-transferring makes the most sense for Reed and with three seasons of eligibility remaining, there should be a lot of quality programs vying for his services.

Now, Andy Toole must figure out to how to replace all of the possessions Reed has vacated. The shooting guard had the second highest possession rate during league play at 27.2%, so someone will need to step up alongside Rodney Pryor if the league’s best offense in terms of efficiency (108.6 points per 100 possession) wants to continue its positive momentum after losing two of their three most significant players in Reed and Lucky Jones. Here’s the Colonials’ returning lineup as currently constructed:

PG: Kavon Stewart
SG: ???
SF: Rodney Pryor
PF: Aaron Tate/Stephan Bennett
PF: Elijah Minnie
Other bench pieces: Lionel Gomis, Andre Frederick

There’s a gaping hole at shooting guard with Reed’s transfer, but otherwise this projects to be a very solid core for Toole to work with. Securing depth and finding a second and third scorer along next to Pryor will be his biggest challenges as he begins his sixth season (has it really been that long??) as Robert Morris’ head coach.

One such candidate to emerge as a NEC star is soon-to-be sophomore Elijah Minnie, whose play in the final weeks (10.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 50% 3PT in last seven games prior to Duke) helped spark a critical winning streak down the stretch. He may not have made the All-NEC Rookie Team, but there’s little doubt that Minnie finished as one of the NEC’s four best rookies. After Reed and Sacred Heart’s Cane Broome, one could argue that Minnie would project as the next best underclassman in a loaded class.

Unfortunately, there have been rumors that Minnie may follow Reed’s lead and transfer as well, although those reports are unconfirmed and just pure speculation at the moment. If the talented power forward does return to Moon Township, a Pryor/Minnie/Stewart threesome could compete among the NEC’s best for the 2015-16 season, especially since I consider Pryor (15.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 57.8% EFG%) as the best returning player of the conference.

Even without Minnie, though, Robert Morris would likely project as a top four club because, well, it’s very difficult to bet against Toole and his 75 career NEC victories (15 wins per season!) thanks to his coaching and recruiting abilities. Two incoming freshmen immediately will be looked at to fill in as off-the-ball guards: Matty McConnell will join Robert Morris after scoring 2,018 points in his high school career, while the talented Isaiah Still elected to play for the Colonials despite receiving multiple offers from programs of the CAA, MAAC and Patriot League.

Given what we know now, handicapping Robert Morris’ chances to defend their title without Reed does get a little more difficult. Calling them the undisputed preseason number one is no longer a given, but for me, the Colonials will remain in the two team top-tier along with Mount St. Mary’s, who graduates Kristijan Krajina and loses the mostly ineffective Chris Martin.

Until Robert Morris is no longer standing in the NEC title game, you have to assume they’ll be back once again. Losing Reed is a major blow, but as long as Toole doesn’t bolt for greener pastures this offseason, Robert Morris will continue to be an elite NEC program. And according to Pittsburgh Post Gazette writer Craig Meyer, Robert Morris is certainly doing their best to retain one of the hotter head coaches in mid-major basketball.


Update (April 3, 10:30 PM): The rumors about Elijah Minnie leaving Robert Morris appear to be true, as a source recently disclosed Minnie’s intentions to Chris Cappella of Colonials Corner:

// on, Minnie himself confirmed the tweet according to Cappella, although Toole, nor anyone in the Robert Morris compliance department, had been approached by Minnie as of tonight. If Minnie and Reed in fact don’t return, which appears very likely, Robert Morris will have five more scholarships remaining for the 2015-16 roster. Toole and his coaching staff have a tough offseason ahead looking for players to fill the back end of Robert Morris’ roster.

Update (April 8, 10:53 PM): Elijah Minnie is reportedly staying with Robert Morris after all. Per Mike Vukovcan:


16 thoughts on “Assessing Robert Morris After Marcquise Reed’s Transfer

  1. Didn’t realize Martin had left The Mount. Not surprising considering the reduced playing time as the season progressed. Didn’t really make much of an impact – seemed a step slow.


  2. Reed’s unexpected departure (and maybe Minnie, as well) certainly gives the RMU program a bloody nose, but, given Coach Toole’s ability to keep them competitive year after year, the Colonials are not going down for the count. Losing Lucky Jones and Reed was RMU’s equivalent of SFC’s losing Cannon and Brent Jones and I don’t think you can count out the Terriers, either. As the all of the recruiting/transfer announcements emerge over the next couple of weeks, we’ll get a far clearer picture of how things are balancing out across the NEC.


  3. I heard a rumor that Smeathers might not be coming back to the Mount.
    Not sure how true but that would be a big loss.


  4. I hope Smeathers comes back, I think he could be really good if he stays healthy for a season and gets himself in a groove, which he never seemed to do this past year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he left though, I’m sure hes graduated by now, and I think it came out last year that he wasn’t on scholarship (oddly enough) so maybe he just wants to get on with his life. Would like to see him give it one more run though, he has all the skills, just has to keep his confidence up and play a full year. Could be a difference maker in the NEC.

    As for RMU, how do they do it? I have no doubt they’ll remain at or near the top of the NEC again, and probably as long as Toole stays, maybe even longer, but it seems like they lose 5 guys during every season and 5 more every offseason. If they didn’t win every year I’d think there program was toxic. I don’t get it. These two leaving makes some sense, because they can transfer up, but it sure seems like they lose a lot of players for one reason or another every year. But, they keep winning, So I think you just have to figure that they’ll reload and be in the hunt again. I hope not though!

    Any rumors of where Reed will end up? Would think he’d be in high demand.


  5. I am enrolled at Robert Morris, and it is well known throughout the student body that coach is Not thought of highly by his players. He is a terrific in game coach, however it is rumored that he does not handle his players well. This explains why so many players quit each year, and why our best players are transferring.


    1. That is very interesting. But if Toole is such a good coach, then why wouldn’t they still want to stay if they can easily win with him?? Maybe it will be both a good and bad thing when he leaves. Hopefully RMU can keep some talented people for 4 years and have them graduate as some of the NEC’s best.

      If Reed would stay at Robert Morris, I would say that at his current pace he probably could make the NBA as a Junior or Senior. Transferring to another school, potentially just makes his condition worse because he might get 15-20 min a game at a larger school (maybe A10), but he wouldn’t be the go to guy like Toole used him and his minutes would go down. I think the article above stated that Reed took 27% or so of shots?? That’s a big portion which probably would go up if he would (hopefully) return next year. So transferring could potentially (easily) hurt his NBA stock or professional stock overall. We will see.

      Right now, Elijah Minne is 50/50 on returning to RMU and definitely should.
      With a team with Stewert/Pryor/Minnie/McConnell, the team would have a firm foundation to repeat and possibly get the Regular season title too. Plus, Isaiah Still should help them out and could start some days at SG and so could McConnell.

      Andy needs to recruit some good JuCO players for next year and a couple more freshman.
      Hopefully at least Minniecwill return.
      Go bobby mo!


      1. The last player to make the NBA from the NEC was Corsley Edwards in 2005. There have been some very good players since then to come through the league, and Reed is one, but to say he could have been ready to make the NBA after his junior year? Please.


      2. I did say or senior year!!

        He could be easily averaging over 22 pts per game as a Junior and his assists would need to go up.

        Most likely it would take place as a senior.

        Good news is that Elijah Minnie is staying and coming back next year!!


  6. Reed was a good player in the NEC, but he wasn’t an impact player in the NEC I don’t believe he is an impact player in the A-10. He can probalbly start for a weaker A-10 Team, but is that a reason to leave a good situation at Robert Morris? I don’t think so.


  7. Reed was Robert Morris 2nd leading scorer at 14.8 and 2nd in assist with RMU with 2 a game. That is terrific for a Freshmen but not Impactful. Jones and Prior were more valuable to RMU then Reed. Again I don’t believe Reed record as a Freshmen in the NEC translates into a starter on a Strong Div. 1 team. He should stay at RMU.


  8. Guess we have a different definition of impactful. Not sure you have to be the best player in the league to be an impact player. I think he was better than Jones this year. I really don’t know or care how he does at his next school and am glad we don’t have to deal with him for 3 more years, but he was very talented for the NEC.


  9. The incredibly smooth Reed just unexpectedly exploded this year as a freshman.Think that if a coach is worried about preparing for certain key individuals on a opposing team, those players can be considered impact players. Lucky Jones, Pryor and Reed would all probably qualify in that category if you canvassed the coaches around the NEC who had to prepare to play RMU. And they’re probably all thankful that they don’t have to plan for Reed in the future. In any event, Coach Toole has a lot of “retooling” to do in this off-season, given the expected talent drain.


  10. Better then Jones, yes this year, Jones did it to himself, but when you have a coach and his staff tell this kid they will center the program around that kid, then you would expect his numbers to be better, then when he don’t get his way he pouts, that’s what was going on in ROMO Ville, so of course Jones was left out, Reed a good player but were ever her goes, he will get the minutes, but he will have to earn and learn how to share, Jones wanted to leave at least several times,. but if it wasn’t for his Parent telling him to be loyal, he would have left, my son did leave but hay, it wasn’t working out for him because of Reed, and I was a different type of parent, yes you can say he was better then that kid this year, but look at the games near the end , without Jones, Central Conn, won by one point, only from a put back from Tate, S H, lost, , that’s the same team them mangled, when jones came back, wake up, they won every game after that, you can be a one horse and think you will win by yourself, I wish Reed the best of luck, and hopes he comes out of the pouting, because on the bigger stage he will fail..


  11. College basketball, at all levels has become a revolving door.
    The dream of playing professionally and playing time are the motivation in most cases.
    Many times outside factors influence a players decision, namely those who have his ear.
    Whether it be friends, family or even other programs that may have shown interest in the past.
    It’s just the way it is these days, a player has to do what he feels is best.
    Hopefully it all works out.


  12. Reed was a very good freshman, and yes he can score. Can he do the other things necessary to play at a higher level? And what’s the “higher” level he’s going to? Is he going to try and play in the A10? Or will he try to go Big East?

    If you’re a school and you’re taking Reed, that’s fine as he has three more years of eligibility and can sit out and get stronger. But just know that other A10 programs are taking kids from Syracuse (BJ Johnson to La Salle), Memphis (Kuron Iverson to URI), Wake Forest (Tyler Cavanaugh to GW), Villanova (Ash Yacoubou to SLU), West Virginia (Jabarie Hinds to UMass). All of whom contributed at those levels.

    As an aside, let’s take a look at Robert Morris’ roster now, as it relates to their roster heading into this year. Charles Oliver (SR), Jairus Lyles (SO transfer) and Jafar Kinsey (FR) leave before the season even finishes. Marcquise Reed (FR) expected to transfer, as is Elijah Minnie (FR), though this situation is a little bit more in flux. Lucky Jones (SR) and David Appolon (SR) graduate. Stephan Bennett (JR) been suspended after pushing a police officer at a bar the night before the NEC title game.

    So that’s 7 scholarship players that started the 2014-15 season with the team that most likely won’t be on the squad next year, 5 of which were unexpected/not normal roster turnover. And an 8th guy overall and 6th unexpected (Bennett) who is very much up in the air.

    Add this to last year’s situations (Jeremiah Worthem?, Mike McFadden?, Desjuan Newton?, Britton Lee?), it begs the question: What is going on in Moon Township?


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