On Monday, I presented my educated guesses as to who would emerge from the NEC freshman class. With only two days left before the first jump ball of the 2015-16 season, I’m attempting to highlight the impact transfers of the conference this morning.
There’s plenty of imported talent, with some of the these transfers ready to possibly make the leap into all-conference team territory. These players are listed in order of perceived impact.
Jerome Frink, LIU Brooklyn – Ever since Frink has stepped foot on LIU Brooklyn’s campus, the reports from those in the know have been glowing. The former FIU forward has even drawn comparisons to Julian Boyd, even if the two aren’t perfectly comparable. Frink will likely never dominate the paint the way Boyd did (and very few could), but the 6’7 power forward is skilled on the perimeter, can rebound the ball very well and has a keen passing eye. His myriad of skills will likely find him near the top of every opponent’s scouting report in due time. We’ve been wrong about incoming transfers before (see Jay Harris, Chris Martin and Zach Chinoma), but Frink appears to be the real deal. We’re already slotting him in as a NEC top 10 player with top 5 upside, even before he has scored a single point in the conference.
Tyrone O’Garro, Fairleigh Dickinson – Even in the bigger and slightly more athletic MAAC, O’Garro was an excellent rebounder at Monmouth as a sophomore (6.0 rpg), leveraging his very good athleticism and ability to get up off the floor quickly. His scoring efficiency was mediocre at best (45.4 FG%, 25.2% turnover rate), yet another year of seasoning and the jump to the NEC should spark an improvement in his shooting percentages. Even if he doesn’t progress much offensively, his leadership and superb rebounding rates will be invaluable to a FDU squad that desperately needs to protect the defensive glass. In my opinion, O’Garro has a solid chance to finish among his conference peers as a top 5 rebounder.
Matej Buovac, Sacred Heart – Buovac’s insertion into the Pioneers’ rotation hasn’t gotten much, if any hype, yet the 6’6 Croatian will be leaned upon to make a significant contribution as a junior. Like Bryant’s Bosco Kostur, Buovac is a wing who’s more comfortable on the perimeter and is adept at shooting the three-ball. In addition, Anthony Latina has lauded Buovac as a glue guy who should gel with a fast and athletic Sacred Heart rotation. The final numbers may not be gaudy, but if Buovac can provide the Pioneers with 20-25 solid minutes per game, then Sacred Heart will be that much closer to cracking the NEC top 5 for the first time since 2009.
Michael Carey, Wagner – One reason why Wagner struggled last season was because of their defense, or more accurately, their lack thereof. With this in mind, Bashir Mason and his staff were determined to improve the team’s athleticism through their 2015-16 recruiting class, hence the addition of Carey. Nicknamed “Mr. Steady” by his coach at San Jacinto College, Carey does a little bit of everything well, though his best attributes may be his decision making and defensive instincts. It’s those qualities that will find Carey, who a few years back originally committed to Texas Tech, plenty of minutes in the non-conference season.
Billy Giles, Robert Morris – Categorized as someone with a high motor, Giles’ energy and maturity — he turns 24 this upcoming season — should serve as an asset for Robert Morris. Even amid a crowded Colonials front court, Giles’ talent should stand out after leading all NJCAA Division I players in rebounding (14.9 rpg) and finishing third in scoring (23.6 ppg) last season. As a power forward coming off the bench, the bouncy Giles should cause chaos for his counterparts around the rim.
J.J. Cratit, Central Connecticut – For the same reasons Austin Nehls made in my top impact freshmen list, Cratit finds himself among my impact transfers. The former Lewis and Clark CC guard figures to see plenty of minutes in CCSU’s thin backcourt and has impressed the coaching staff thus far. His ability to score on the perimeter has Dickenman hopeful that Cratit will turn into another productive JUCO transfer, joining the likes of Matthew Hunter and Faronte Drakeford.
Also Considered: Akeem Saintil, LIU Brooklyn, Henry Brooks, Wagner