Five new faces will usher in the 2013-14 men’s basketball season. Freshmen Jaren Sina and Rashed Anthony, junior college transfers Hakeem Harris and Stephane Manga, and red-shirt sophomore Sterling Gibbs will all don the blue and white.
“I think all the new guys have an opportunity to help us in many different ways,” head coach Kevin Willard said in a statement. “Each guy brings a unique skill set; they definitely are going to bring us depth and will allow us to play at a much faster pace. They all have a chance to really come in and compete for a lot of minutes, so we are really excited about all the newcomers.”
Newcomer Sina, a guard, was a highly touted recruit out of Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone, N.J. According to ESPN.com, he is ranked No. 91 in the ESPN Top 100 for the 2013 recruiting class.
He originally committed to Northwestern, but after the school fired head coach Bill Carmody and assistant coach Fred Hill (who later signed on to Willard’s coaching staff), Sina reopened his search.
Sina said the coaching staff was a major factor in deciding be- tween the Hall and Northwestern. In terms of what he can bring to the court, Sina said his ability to shoot the long ball and stretch the defense is just one of his abilities.
Sina also said that he looks to senior swingman Fuquan Edwin for guidance in his transition.
“I’m very close with (Edwin),” Sina said. “He takes care of me. He’s always pushing me in practice. I have a close relationship with him. We’re always playing together in practice, and I already like the tandem. We just continue to work together.”
Another player Sina praised was Gibbs, who had to sit out last year because of NCAA transfer regulations.
Gibbs, a native of Scotch Plains, N.J., makes his way to the Hall after playing at Texas during the 2011-12 season. That year, Gibbs averaged 2.6 points in 7.5 minutes per game. He is also no stranger to the Pirate brand; he attended Seton Hall Preparatory School in West Orange, N.J.
Another New Jersey native, Harris, will join the Pirates after transferring from Connors State, a junior college in Warner, Okla.
In 30 games for Connors State last season, the guard aver- aged 12.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, shooting 39.2 percent from the floor and 37.2 percent from 3-point range.
Another junior college transfer, Manga, will bring more versatility to the Pirates. The 6-foot-6-inch swingman hails from Orleans, France, and played at Monroe College. In 30 games for the Mustangs, Manga averaged 15.2 points per game and grabbed 5.7 rebounds per game. He also showed some range, shooting 30.8 percent from beyond the arc.
The final fresh face is Anthony, a 6-foot-8-inch forward from Cordova S.C. He played as a center in high school for Flora MacDonald Academy and will look to add depth to the Hall’s frontcourt.
ESPN ranks him as the No. 52 center in the 2013 class.
Sina said that for the new guys to be successful as Pirates, they need to support each other on and off the court.
“I think the biggest thing is staying on each other,” Sina said. “Push each other every day. Compete every day. Make each other better. It obviously helps the team. I think that’s the biggest thing. The season is going to be a grind. I think it starts now.”
The season is still over two months away, but Sina said that he isn’t focused on the pressure to contribute.
“It’s new for me,” Sina said. “It’s college basketball. It’s a new excitement. I don’t look at it as pressure; I look at it as something new, something I’m excited about.”
The Pirates will open their season on Nov. 9 at the Prudential Center against Niagara as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at email@example.com.