In a move that was predicted by some across the NEC, combo guard Cane Broome has requested and was granted his release from Sacred Heart.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman broke the news on Twitter on Thursday:
Sacred Heart’s Cane Broome is transferring. Put up 23 points per game this past season. 6-foot sophomore guard.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 17, 2016
Obviously, this is a severe body blow to Sacred Heart’s title contender hopes for the 2016-17 season. With Broome, Quincy McKnight, a healthy De’von Barnett and others leading the charge, it was very reasonable to place the Pioneers third behind FDU and Wagner in the next NEC preseason poll. At the very least, a top 4 selection would’ve been a virtual lock with LIU Brooklyn as the other contender.
Now, Broome’s departure forces Anthony Latina and his staff to scramble for a replacement, which, quite frankly, is practically impossible given the sophomore’s value. How exactly do you replace a player who absorbed more than 30% of his team’s possessions in league play and still posted a terrific 108.2 offensive rating? He was far more than a volume scorer, but I won’t rehash all of that when you can simply read about my gushing here. There’s a reason why: a) he was only the second underclassman in NEC history to win its prestigious Player of the Year honor and b) he played 93.0% of Sacred Heart’s available minutes this season. From an individual standpoint, Broome had accomplished everything he could in two short years at Sacred Heart, so it’s hard to fault him for wanting a challenge at a higher level.
Moving forward, it’s difficult to forecast where Broome will inevitably land, but he should have plenty of offers to entertain, from high-mid major to power conference programs. Even after publicly announcing his intention to transfer just 24 hours ago, sources say Broome has already received plenty of interest from potential suitors.
Many will compare the East Hartford native to former Robert Morris guard Marcquise Reed, who up-transferred to Clemson last season, yet the 6’2” Reed is two inches taller than Broome and possesses a different skill set. On one hand, Reed will likely serve as an off-the-ball guard for the Tigers, whereas the 6’0”, 160 pound Broome profiles more as a scoring point guard, given his size and physical abilities. Whether his measurements limit how high he can transfer up to is yet to be determined, but I’m willing to bet some power conference program will drool at Broome’s silky smooth athleticism and scoring acumen and give the guard a shot. He can improve his ball handling and passing skills and bulk up during the year he must sit out, as per NCAA transfer rules.
One interesting note – while Broome has been able to score against KenPom Tier A and B teams (site adjusted top 100) this past season (20 ppg, 43.9% from the field), he has turned the ball over with some frequency, issuing an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.76 (16 assists/21 turnovers) in five games. At his new school, though, it’s doubtful Broome will be the lone focus of the defensive scouting report, as he was at Sacred Heart; therefore it isn’t a reach to expect Broome’s career turnover rate of 18.7% to drop, albeit slightly, in his new environment.
With the best player in program history no longer in their plans, the Pioneers depth chart looks something like this for the upcoming season:
PG: Sean Hoehn, Zach Radz (incoming freshman)
SG: Quincy McKnight, Chris Robinson
F: Matej Buovac, Jermaine Ukaegbu
F: De’von Barnett
PF: Mario Matasovic (junior transfer), Filip Nowicki
Making up 23 ppg per game in the backcourt is obviously troubling, but another major concern of Latina must be that Sacred Heart only has one true point guard on the roster in sophomore Sean Hoehn. Besides Broome this season, there wasn’t a single Pioneer who possessed an assist rate above 15.3% last season.
According to Verbal Commits, the Pioneers have several offers on the table for guards, including the moderately recruited Ryan Murphy, Shane Gatling and Tyonne Malone, all local products. (As a caveat, tracking offers at the low mid-major level is incredibly difficult, thus this information is likely far from accurate.) Currently, Sacred Heart has three scholarships to fill for its 2016-17 roster and that number could swell to four if Latina decides to let the sparingly used Cole Walton move on after he graduates this May (he has one year of eligibility left after red-shirting as a freshman). Can Latina find a useful, ready-to-contribute-now guard through the graduate transfer, JUCO or freshman route to fill in the young rotation around Hoehn, McKnight, Chris Robinson and St. Thomas More attendee Zach Radz? That remains to be seen.
Given the uncertainty, and the big hole in the frontcourt from the graduations of Tevin Falzon and Jordan Allen, Sacred Heart falls into the muddle that is the NEC bottom tier. Each team in this group – Robert Morris, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis University and Bryant – have significant question marks and lose one or several key contributors from their 2015-16 roster. You can now insert the Pioneers into this mix.
Can they surprise with a top 5 finish should McKnight take a significant step forward as a sophomore, Barnett returns to all-conference form and Mario Matasovic, reportedly an absolute freak of an athlete, provides a frontcourt spark? Sure they could, but without Broome the margin of error just got a lot thinner. And expecting this team to keep pace with the Wagner, FDU, and LIU Brooklyns of the league isn’t a solid bet at the moment.
The offseason just got a lot more stressful for Latina as he embarks on his fourth season.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride