When one thinks of the Seton Hall men’s basketball team, one thinks of the core four seniors: Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez and Ismael Sanogo who have helped Seton Hall on its way back to national prominence.
However, it was the newcomers who drew positive remarks from the team’s veterans and head coach Kevin Willard at Big East Media Day on Oct. 18.
That group of newcomers features freshmen Jordan Walker, Myles Cale and Sandro Mamukelashvili along with transfers Romaro Gill, Quincy McKnight and Taurean Thompson.
While each player brings a different skillset to the table, all of them have contributed to increased energy and competition levels in practice.
“The freshmen are really pushing these guys,” coach Kevin Willard said. “Practice is probably as competitive as I’ve ever had it in my seven years here.”
After developing a reputation as a high-energy player in his days at The Patrick School, Walker has brought that drive with him to South Orange and it is something that will provide Seton Hall with a different look in the backcourt this season and beyond.
“[Jordan] Walker is a guy that’s electric and when he gets it, he’s going to give us a different dimension at the point guard spot,” Willard said.
Walker’s energetic play has also helped Carrington’s transition to point guard, as going up against Walker in practice has given the senior a sneak peek at what going up against quick point guards will be like this season.
“Like they say, iron sharpens iron,” Carrington said of Walker. “He’s a little guard and I know I’m going to face guards like that this year, so him being on me on defense under my skin is definitely preparing me for the season.”
McKnight has also provided Carrington with some challenges in practice, as the Sacred Heart transfer brings a strong defensive pedigree to the table, even though he will sit out the 2017-18 season.
“Quincy’s a big defensive player,” Carrington said. “He’s definitely been going hard and pushing guys.”
After dealing with the after effects of offseason shoulder surgery, Cale has impressed since returning to the court and his presence will give Willard another athletic wing to work with.
“Since he’s been back from shoulder surgery, he’s been astonishing in what he’s done in three weeks,” Willard said.
Cale has been guarding Rodriguez in practice and it has been a beneficial working relationship for both players, as Cale’s competitiveness brings out the best in Rodriguez, while Rodriguez provides Cale with some veteran knowledge.
“He’s been showing a lot of competitiveness against me and he’s been learning a lot from me too,” Rodriguez said. “He’s very athletic and he’s been great helping us in practice.”
While Thompson continues to get his feet wet a month after transferring in from Syracuse, Mamukelashvili has been turning heads, drawing comparisons to former Seton Hall player Patrik Auda due to their similarities as pick-and-pop players.
Gill has had to go up against one of the best big men in the country in Delgado on a daily basis in practice, but the 7-foot, 2-inch transfer from Vincennes University has held his own, drawing praise from Delgado in the process.
“He blocks everything, I’m going to let you know right now,” Delgado said. “He’s too tall; I think he can touch the shot clock, that’s how tall he is. He’s going to be good, people are going to see it’s not that easy to drive on him and shoot on him. He blocks my shots every day.”
On a team that features three 1,000-point scorers, it could be easy to forget about the role players and young guys who fill out the roster. The way Delgado sees it, they will be household names in their own right soon enough.
“Every guy brings it every day,” Delgado said. “People don’t know, but they’re really good. You guys are going to find out this year.”
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.