Graduation and transfers force Broncs to look toward the future

By Austin Ferguson

It was not clear when the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) tournament was canceled on March 12, but an end of an era was upon the Rider’s men’s basketball team.

The premature end to the MAAC tournament spelled the end of the college basketball careers for Stevie Jordan, Tyere Marshall, Kimar Williams and Willy Nuñez, Jr., the first two of which scored 1000 points in their respective careers.

The second wave of losses arrived on March 27 when redshirt junior forwards Dimencio Vaughn and Frederick Scott announced that they were entering the transfer portal.

“My family and I are extremely grateful for three incredible years at Rider,” Scott posted on Twitter, announcing his decision. “I’ve made some great memories. I’m excited and ready for the next chapter.”

Vaughn followed suit in giving thanks for his tenure with the Broncs through social media.

“Both my family and I want to thank Rider University and the coaching staff for the opportunity they have given me the past three years. With that being said, I have decided to enter the portal. Excited to see what the future holds,” Vaughn posted on Twitter along with his notification of entering the transfer portal.

Scott and Vaughn both joined Marshall and Jordan in scoring 1000 points in their collegiate careers before entering the portal as graduate transfers. Vaughn was named to the All-MAAC First Team twice in his Rider career, while Scott earned All-MAAC Third Team honors in every season he played with the Broncs and won MAAC Sixth Player of the Year for the 2017-18 season.

According to nj.com’s Adam Zagoria, Vaughn had received interest from top-level schools, including the University of Connecticut, Xavier, Ole Miss, Dayton, St. John’s and Georgia. On March 31, Vaughn announced that he narrowed his decision between Connecticut, Ole Miss and Georgia.

Though there has been no official word on interested schools, users on social media have thrown around rumors that Scott will also be transferring to a high-major or Power-5 school.

Compounding graduations and transfers, the Broncs are now short six players headed into next season. The only starter the Broncs will return is freshman guard Christian Ings, who started  18 games for Rider in the 2019-20 season, as Rider carries just two sophomores as their veteran players on the roster.

The Broncs, however, won’t be short for long.

As of March 31, according to verbalcommits.com, Rider has eight players verbally committed to join the Broncs next season, including six freshmen and two transfers.

The Freshmen

Corey McKeithan, Point Guard, Windsor High School (Conn.)

The Connecticut native shows a lot of upside through his highlights. Scoring outbursts, late-game heroics and spinning layups are just the tip of the iceberg for the McDonald’s All-American nominee.

McKeithan is able to bring talent both mentally and physically when it counts most, much like the departing Jordan.

Despite the departures, Rider’s backcourt is still stacked with players. However, McKeithan should be able to work himself into the rotation with ease.

Jaelen McGlone, Shooting Guard, Cheltenham High School (Pa.)

Surprisingly, McGlone is the only Philadelphia-area player in the Broncs’ recruiting class so far. Last season, Rider fielded eight players from Philadelphia and its surrounding metropolitan area.

McGlone’s Philadelphia roots show in his game, as he’s a tough slasher who can rack up both points and boards quickly. 

The Cheltenham High School product’s senior campaign earned him Reporter/Times Herald Boys Basketball 2019-2020 All-Area First Team honors and his toughness should earn him success in Rider Head Coach Kevin Baggett’s system.

Nehemiah Benson, Small Forward, Lutheran East High School (Ohio)

From Streetsboro, Ohio, Benson has shown that he is a problem on both sides of the floor.

On offense, Benson has the potential to become a highlight reel with his tendency to attack the rim and dunk the ball with ease. On defense, his ability to do the dirty work and show off his talents in shot-blocking will be a welcoming addition to the Broncs’ perimeter and paint defense.

Together, Benson’s success earned him a spot on the Ohio High School Sports Association’s Division II All-State First Team as he led Lutheran East High School to its fifth-straight district championship.

Jordan Smalls, Small Forward, Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (Ga.)

Coming from Jonesboro, Georgia, Smalls earned Georgia Class A Region 5 South First Team honors for his senior season at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy. 

Like McGlone, Smalls is quick to rack up both points and rebounds and can become a double-double machine when he is locked in.

Smalls, along with Benson, will fill much-needed holes from the departures at the forward spots, with one of them having the opportunity to start sooner rather than later.

Lawrence Foreman, Power Forward, Woodstock Academy Prep (Conn.)

The 6-foot-9 Jamaica native went to three different high schools, the first two of which draw connections to both present and future Broncs. 

Foreman spent time at St. Thomas More in Oakdale, Connecticut, where redshirt sophomore Tyrei Randall had also played. Foreman also played at Windsor High School, where incoming freshman McKeithan spent his high school career.

The forward finished his high school career at the Woodstock Academy, where he was able to show off his intelligence to couple his long frame.

After all, Foreman’s other talent besides playing basketball growing up was playing chess.

R.J. Weise, Point Guard, Allentown High School (N.J.)

Weise is a home-grown product that made waves in southern New Jersey. Playing at Allentown High School, Weise may not have been the most explosive, but his intelligence on the court shows.

The Colonial Valley Conference Player of the Year averaged 18 points and 5.5 assists per game and led his team to a 21-7 record.

Weise will join the Broncs as a walk-on but certainly has the potential to break the stereotypes of a walk-on player.

Transfers

Jeremiah Pope, Shooting Guard, Brunswick Community College (N.C.)

Pope transferred to Brunswick Community College from Fayetteville State University and made the most of his sophomore season, averaging 19 points per game. 

Pope can score early and often, giving buckets to his defenders in every possible form. If he can stay consistent on offense, we can see highs from him similar to the scoring outputs Broncs fans saw from Jordan Allen just a few years ago.

Rodney ‘Rocket’ Henderson, Jr., Shooting Guard, California State University Northridge (CSUN) (Calif.)

Henderson was set to play out his senior year at CSUN before suffering from an injury just three games into the 2019-20 season, putting an end to his campaign.

The Carson, California, native averaged double figures in scoring his junior year while playing most of the season off of the bench.

Henderson’s most appealing stat for Rider fans is his free throw percentage: he shot just under 79% from the charity stripe his junior year.

‘Rocket’ can score and his veteran presence as a graduate transfer could transpire similarly to how Nuñez contributed to the Broncs in 2019.

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