Monday, October 23, 2017

FGCU’s big shoes to fill for new big men

The FGCU men's basketball team huddles up during a practice at the Amway Center in Orlando.

“naples

The graduation of Marc-Eddy Norelia and Demetris Morant has left some very big – and tall – shoes to fill for the FGCU men’s basketball team.

Guard play isn’t an issue for the Eagles, anchored by star Brandon Goodwin at the point, along with Zach Johnson and Christian Terrell, but the frontcourt is still a mystery.

It’s going to be up to, in part, a trio of 6-foot-10 newcomers to fill that void.

For two of those players, Michigan transfer and Bishop Verot graduate Ricky Doyle, and VCU transfer Michael Gilmore, who becomes eligible after the fall semester, it’s been a long wait.

“It’s everything that I’ve trained for and I know I can do,” Doyle said. “I know I can score in the low post.”

Both players have had to sit out due to NCAA mandated transfer rules, but Eagles coach Joe Dooley doesn’t expect there to be a slow pickup for them.

“That was one of the great things about having Ricky and having Michael in the program last year they were able to get a feel for those teams,” Dooley said.

The third guy in the equation is Brady Ernst, a junior college transfer.

One last newcomer down low is 6-foot-9 freshman Brian Thomas, who is already getting rave reviews from summer workouts.

“He’s got terrific size for a guy his size and weight. He’s just young right now, inexperienced,” Dooley said. “It’s hard for big guys because they don’t get to simulate it until they get to college.”

A couple returning faces also plan to factor into the rotation, including senior Antravious Simmons, who was often the first big man off the bench for the Eagles last season. Simmons averages 5.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game as a junior. Sophomore stretch-four Raysean Scott Jr. appears ready for a larger role as well.

“We had stretches last year where Raysean really helped us. He jumped up and got 14 against Michigan State, but because he was young he didn’t get a lot of opportunities,” Dooley said. “We think he’s going to be a really great player.”

FGCU’s last addition to this year’s class, replacing high-flyer Rayjon Tucker, who left the program in June, is a forward as well. UNLV transfer Troy Baxter Jr., standing 6-foot-8, will have to sit out the season, however.


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