Yes. His father and uncles [went to Navy]. He had a tremendous high school career. I’m really glad to have him in the program. He’s a tremendous perimeter shooter as well. And that’s something we’ve tried to get – guys who can shoot the ball. We were a very poor shooting team last year. We really wanted guys who can shoot the basketball. That’s a skill that [you really need to be] competitive at the college level. Richard can really shoot the basketball. He’s a hard worker and a very bright young guy. We’re very, very happy to have him in the program.
Finally, Ryan Spadaford is the last guy you’re bringing in. What type of player is he?
Ryan’s the kind of guy who’s a tough kid that can play a couple different positions. At 6-4, he can score around the basket. He can shoot, and he kind of does a lot of things well. I don’t have him penciled in for a [specific] position because I think you can move him around. His versatility is a great attribute for us, because he can drive against bigger guys with the basketball, post up smaller guys and shoot the 3. He’s a versatile player. We can move him around and play different spots. His versatility is really important for us.
Of these newcomers, is there one in particular that you absolutely need to make an impact this season?
Well, Tilman is going to play for us. Our point guard position is up in the air. We’ve got two guys who played the position this past year in Brennan Wyatt and Kevin Alter, but we don’t have a lot of great experience. Wyatt got a little more, but Tilman adds some speed to the team and adds some intangibles that right now, we don’t have. I’m hoping he can come along and be a guy who can play quality minutes for us.
You’re going to be young again, but five of seven freshmen from last year are back. Does that indicate that guys are buying in to your program?
Yeah, I think so. I thought the freshmen class this year is a really good class for us. I think we’ve brought in a point guard who’s very fast, athletic and can score. We’ve brought in wings who can shoot the ball. We’ve brought in post guys who can face up and score, and play with their backs to the basket. We tried to bring in a little bit of everything. I think the guys we’ve brought in are skill players who have the opportunity to help us. Other players on the team and in the program have improved. They’ve done a good job working out in the spring and summer. They’ve improved, so I think overall, we’ll be a much-improved program. Hopefully that will show in the win-loss column. I think we’re much better than we were. That’s a positive, but it’s not where we want to be. We want to be Patriot League champs and go to the NCAA tournament. It’s going to take some time for these classes to grow up and develop. This year, we don’t have any seniors – not one senior on the entire team. So for any level of basketball, it’s hard to be where you want to be with no senior leadership on the team. Usually the best teams are junior and senior dominated. We’re just not there yet. We’ll let the classes mature, develop and grow up.
Were you surprised last season was so rough?
After watching our workouts in the fall, I thought we would be challenged. I didn’t think we were very skilled. And I thought if guys didn’t play really well, we were going to have a hard time winning games. I don’t think these guys had great years. Jordan Sugars, our senior, did not have a very good year. Isaiah Roberts, who was our Player of the Year, did not have a very good year. He played well toward the end of the season. But we weren’t a very good passing team, not a very good shooting team. We were one of the worst teams in Division I shooting the basketball. We were [the worst] from 3. We were very, very young. That was a concern for me. We only had Jordan – he was our one senior. Teddy [Connolly] and Carlton [Smith] were sort of walk-on players for us, JV players moved up. We had one senior among the scholarship guys, didn’t have any juniors, and then had sophomores and freshmen. And then we lost some games early – lost a close one to Tulane, lost at Elon on a buzzer beater – that if we made a play here or there, we would have won. But guys weren’t in a position to make a play. We just didn’t have guys who have been in the game and made those plays before. Having a youthful team is very much a concern. I think the skill level is really a concern as we work with the guys in fall practice.
How difficult was it to lose J.J. Avila (academics) midseason?