There was a chance that the USI men’s basketball team might sign another player, but that’s not happening now. I heard he was a 6-foot-11 forward. But the possibility of his signing “didn’t work out,” according to my source. The reason could be any number of things, but the one I often hear is that the player’s grades and class credits didn’t meet USI’s academic qualifications or they didn’t meet NCAA academic qualifications, etc., etc. Of course, this is all big time speculating on my part. But I’ve been in this business long enough that those reasons usually sink a prospect’s chances, especially the chances of a potential transfer. A year ago at this time, USI signed Keith DeWitt, the 6-10 center who turned out to be one of the best inside players in the GLVC who was often good for double figures in both points and rebounds. Now the Eagles will have to rely on the inside players returning, most notably 6-8, 250-pound Aaron Nelson, another double-double guy who’s returning from a torn ACL that took him out halfway through last season.
That said, I get a feeling that coach Rodney Watson is retooling his team. I think he’s moving away from relying mostly on the inside, near-the-basket game to a more perimeter game offensively. I’m not saying they’re going to heave many more 3-point shots this season. I’m saying you shouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more mid-range jumpshots out to 18 feet. He’ll still have Nelson anchoring the baseline, and if the development of senior Chuck Jones continues (I wrote about him here in July), USI should have no trouble clearing the boards and getting plenty of putbacks and second-chance points. But it won’t have to continually dump the ball inside to have a chance to score, and that could only help. The Eagles got stuck in that rut last season and opponents eventually figured it out, forcing USI to shoot more and more from the outside, which was rarely successful.