After four seasons in Princess Anne, UMES coach Frankie Allen admits that he thought his program would be further along by now.
The Hawks went 7-23 during the 2011-12 season, giving Allen a record of 34-89 at UMES. But Allen, the former Virginia Tech, Tennessee State and Howard coach, is optimistic that things will be better for the Hawks starting this year.
UMES returns two starters in junior guard Louis Bell and junior forward Ron Spencer, and three reserves in senior center T.J. Kosile, senior forward Pina Guillaume and sophomore guard Ishaq Pitt.
Joining those five veterans will be an “infusion of new blood.” Allen has added six players to his roster: Jarrod Davis, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound freshman forward from Lakewood, N.J.; Kevin Mays, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound freshman forward from Brooklyn, N.Y.; Troy Snyder, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound junior forward from Chicago who transferred last year from Wisconsin-Green Bay; Donald Williams, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior guard from Hyattsville who played at Prince George’s County Community College; Kyree Jones, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore guard from Indianapolis who comes from Kankakee (Ill.) Community College via Northern Illinois; and Francis Obumneme, a 6-foot-10 junior center from Nigeria who played at Monroe (N.Y.) Community College.
Allen spoke with The Sun last week about UMES’ newcomers, the MEAC, expectations for the Hawks and more.
We’ll start with the newcomers. Jarrod Davis is a guy who had some high-major interest at one point in his high school career. How did you land him and what do you expect from him?
He’s … a kid that had some injuries or health issues, but we really feel positive that he’s gotten past that. He had to have some surgery on his knee. The prognosis for his recovery is going well. We look forward to him being 100 percent and ready to go by December in terms of being able to play. We’re counting on him. Like you said, he had some interest from some high-major schools. I want to say he had committed to Seton Hall. But he’s really just a talented player. He’s kind of a 3/4. He has great offensive skills and explosiveness around the basket. The big thing is, hopefully he’ll be 100 percent recovered from his knee surgery and get back and regain that kind of physical ability that he had before the injury. He’s a very talented and skilled player. I’m excited about him coming in and really helping us as we get into MEAC play.
What do you see in Kevin Mays, a 6-4 forward from New York?
He’s 6-3, but a very powerful 6-3. He’s kind of a wing, but he’s just physically strong. It’s not so much the weightlifting and all that, but he’s just physically strong. He’s got a nice, strong, wide body and can score inside and out. What I think he has with his strength and quickness … is the ability to be a really good defender. A lot of times we have conservations – and not just with you, but fans and others – about how many points somebody could average and what they do on the offensive end. But I’m trying to put together a team with a lot of special athletes, and Kevin could be that kid [defensively]. Obviously he’s got offensive skills and is a tough kid, a strong kid that has the ability to be a really strong defender for you. He’ll maybe be able to guard bigger guys, but also guard guys that are a little bit smaller. He’ll bring a lot of versatility to the table once he gets squared away.
Next on the list is Troy Snyder from Chicago. What’s his story?
Troy sat out last year because of the NCAA rule. He transferred from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He played ball in the South Suburban League up in the Chicago area. At 6-6, he’s a very skilled player, a really solid wing. He runs well and can really score around the basket. He has pretty good range, up to 3-point range on his shot. And he’s athletic. He’s one of those kids that I look to be a very solid and consistent scorer for us. But he also does a good job rebounding. He’s more of a small forward type of player with good ball-handling skills. Again, just like talking about Kevin Mays, I think Troy has the ability to be a very good defender, too. He has good quickness and lateral movement. That’s something you look for in somebody with good offensive ability. We’re really hoping he’ll be a really good defender for us.