Go Lehigh! Beat the Hoyas!
P.S. Look for my recap later in any event!
With the shocking news that freshman hybrid forward Jesse Chuku will not be playing this year, per the article posted on www.lehighsports.com, the Lehigh frontcourt takes a significant hit prior to the season even starting. After graduating three frontcourt members from last year’s Championship team, in Hamilton/Adams/Maneri, Lehigh brought in the aforementioned Chuku and his classmate Justin Goldsborough to help out the frontcourt. Jesse and Justin, alongside with sophomore Conroy Baltimore, were set to be the frontcourt depth behind senior starters Gabe Knutson and Holden Greiner. Many fans of the program had high expectations for Jesse to make an impact in the frontcourt from day one, and with Jesse now sitting out his freshman year, the frontcourt depth is down to just two scholarship players. Lehigh, more then ever, needs Baltimore and Goldsborough to fufill their large potential that we outlined a few weeks ago in our season preview of the frontcourt:
On Baltimore – “The NY native is a 6’6 forward with a long wingspan who posted strong rebounding statistics in limited minutes last year, recording 49 rebounds (25 offensive) in 142 minutes. Lehigh does not need Conroy to contribute much on the offensive end, because this team should put up points in droves, but in order for Lehigh to be as successful as they were last year they will need Conroy to develop into a rebounding machine and defensive stopper to help alleviate pressure from Gabe and Holden.”
When announcing Lehigh signed Goldsborough the good Dr. described Justin as having “excellent length and size” and who “is a defensive presence immediately upon entering our program with his shot blocking and rebounding ability”.
Lehigh will need both Baltimore and Goldsborough to contribute significantly from day 1 this year to help out Gabe and Holden on the defensive end of the floor with their defense and rebounding skills.
Lehigh Hoops Nation, as part of the continuing effort to get everyone prepared and ready for the ’12-’13 edition of Lehigh Basketball, was fortunate enough to chat with freshman guard Devon Carter in an attempt to help introduce him to Mountain Hawk fans.
What is your earliest basketball memory?
Playing basketball at Gunning Park Recreation Center on the West Side of Cleveland, Ohio. I was seven years old and I was playing with the older guys and holding my own. I knew then that the game of basketball was something I wanted to pursue.
Where do the athletic genes come from?
I get my physical frame and the way I play the game from my father. He is the main reason I am the player I am today. The way I think and my positive attitude is from my mother. I use both aspects of who I am to help me produce on the court.
Was it always a dream of yours to play college basketball?
I originally started playing baseball, and was in my opinion, a prodigy. But when my father put a basketball in my hand for the first time, I fell in love with the game and left baseball alone to focus on basketball.
Why did you decide to come to Lehigh and was there one specific moment or event where everything clicked and made you realize that LU was where you were going to go to college?
I chose Lehigh because it fit the three things I looked for in a college. It was a great academic school, it gave me a good basketball opportunity and it was an excellent personality fit. It all clicked when I talked to C.J. McCollum on my official visit and he genuinely told me how good the school was and I felt like I could relate to his opinion because he is from around the same place that I am (about 40 minutes away).
What NBA player best describes your style of play?
The Indiana Pacer Ron Artest because he played like a bulldog and that’s what Coach sees my role being on the team this year.
What part of your game have you been working on the most since your John Hay season ended last spring?
My defense and my hustle activity has been my main focus because that is the way I get my minutes this year.
Talk a bit about your AAU team, a well-known team named after a certain first time NBA Champion in LeBron James (King James Shooting Stars), what was your experience like suiting up for such a great program? Any LBJ encounters or stories?
Being a part of King James was special. It put me in an elite group that I am proud to be a part of. We went all across the country and I must admit, we did look the best and obtained a lot of LeBron gear.
You got to campus well before the majority of your classmates, as you enrolled in summer school to take a class and workout with LU players and coaches, what was that experience like?
The summer experience was unique. It started out extremely tough because the college life was new to me, but once I got used to it, I felt as if I had an edge on my classmates and an extra couple of months of “college” basketball was also another positive.
How has it been meeting your fellow freshman basketball teammates, in Jesse and Justin? All teammates?
It doesn’t get any better than my teammates. I have already gained a relationship with each one of them and we have been doing great. I have yet to have a problem with any of them. They are supportive and I feel like the little brother of the team.
What goals do you have for yourself in your first season?
My main goal this season is getting and staying on the court. Whatever I have to do to make this happen, I will do. This includes staying eligible in the classroom, and being that “bulldog” coach wants me to be.
Tell us about DC off the court?
Off the court, I try to have as much fun as possible. I hate being bored so I do whatever I can to stay active and alive!
Special thanks to Devon for taking the time, appreciate it DC!
After the good Dr. and staff locked up their 3rd member of the 2013 recruiting class in Shane Whitfield, the only remaining question is what position the last available scholarship get allocates to. The Big Three that is CJ McCollum, Gabe Knutson, and Holden Greiner are in their final year at Lehigh, so those mainstays on the court for the Brown & White won’t be with the team in the 2013-2014 season. Below is a list of scholarship players who will be part of next year’s squad, organized by class (what year they will be next year).
Mackey McKnight: 6’0
Anthony D’Orazio: 6’2
BJ Bailey: 6’3
Corey Schaefer: 6’1
Stefan Cvrkalj: 6’5
Conroy Baltimore: 6’6
Devon Carter: 6’4
Jesse Chuku: 6’8
Justin Goldsborough: 6’8
Austin Price: 6’3
Shane Whitfield: 6’6
Tim Kempton: 6’8
Despite the graduation of CJ McCollum, guard play should still be a strength for the ’13-’14 Mountain Hawks. For starters, Lehigh will have a 4-year starter at the point in Mackey McKnight, who will have the ball in his hands at all times in order to orchestrate the offense. Surrounding Mackey will be classmate BJ Bailey, who if he shows improvement from the level he was playing at last February and March, will surely have an impact role in his last two years in Bethlehem. If Lehigh again rolls with 3 guards, BJ can play the 2 or the 3 because of his athletic ability and length. Another guard and classmate of Mackey’s is Anthony D’Orazio, a two-guard who has shown the ability to score in spurts off the bench in his first two years at Lehigh. Next year’s junior class has two guards in it, with a pure point guard in Corey Schaefer and a shooting sniper in Stefan Crvkalj. Both were seldom used last year as freshman, but both showed enough in limited action to make one believe that each will have a role on this year and next year’s team. Schaefer will once again back-up McKnight, while Crvkalj could push for a bigger role in ’13-’14 depending on how his defense picks up and based on how he fares this year on the ’12-’13 team. Many around the Lehigh program are really high on current freshman Devon Carter, a highly ranked and versatile lefty guard out of Cleveland, he has a high upside as an athletic 6’4 off-the-ball guard who can play the 2 or the 3 for Lehigh if Reed goes small with 3 guards. When you throw in recent commit Austin Price who has a silky smooth game and who could take on a scoring role as a two-guard for Lehigh early in his career, the backcourt has endless options for ’13-’14. All in, next year’s team has 7 scholarship guards on it, and many of these players offer nice complimentary skill packages to one another. This collection of 7 guards, in my mind, absolutely has enough fire power to be a top backcourt in the PL in ’13-’14.
Four of the last six scholarships handed out by Reed and staff has gone to aiding and assisting frontcourt depth, as it should. The big question that I have is if there is someone from this 5 man unit that can fill the Knutson role of being an offensive threat in the paint. The ’13-’14 team needs someone who the guards can dump the ball down low to and feel comfortable that he will be able to execute one on one to get a high percentage shot off in the paint like we’ve seen Gabe do for the last three years.
As it stands right this second, the five frontcourt members that will comprise the Lehigh frontcourt in ’13-’14 have a combined 142 minutes of college basketball experience. Conroy Baltimore, who will be a Junior next year and who owns the entire 142 minutes of experience, is a long armed 6’6 rebounder, grinder, defender who needs to step up and carve out a role on this year’s ’12-’13 team. Conroy at his best, is a mini-Rodman rebounding stud that plays as an undersized 4, but not a guy you clear out for and let him operate offensively in the paint. To help out the ’12-’13 frontcourt Reed brought in Chuku and Goldsborough, who will be sophomores next year, but both have yet to suit up for a college game. While there is limited video of Goldsborough, Chuku is a hybrid forward who can get out and run in the transition game and hit outside jumpers, while showing some ability to break down bigs off the dribble and has shown some flashes of low post moves, but is clearly not a pure 5 that operates exclusively in the post. Goldsborough is a long 6’8 forward, but it is unknown if he has a back to the basket post-up game that Lehigh can consistently feed the ball to. Next year’s freshman class will bring two forwards to Bethlehem, in the 6’6 Whitfield and 6’8 Kempton. Whitfield, from videos posted online, appears to be more of a small forward, who likes to get out and run and attack off the dribble in transition. Kempton, who like Goldsborough has almost no video of him on the internet, has been discussed by analysts as a big man with a nice soft touch from 18 feet on in, but who needs to get stronger to be able to finish in traffic down low.
I see a super athletic group of 5 forwards for the ’13-’14 team that can cause some serious mismatches, but if the staff hasn’t seen enough in the form of post-up offense from summer and pre-season workouts in Goldsborough or on the recruiting trail with Kempton, they need to get a 5 man that can get up and down the court in this fast paced offense but who can also camp out down low and operate in the paint on the offensive end of the court. This would allow the remaining frontcourt members to slide back into their appropriate slots, and the frontcourt as a whole becomes much deeper.
As always, stay tuned folks!