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Pollock: Bonnies facing a third-straight rebuild, a look at the transfers with comments from Coach Schmidt

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By CHUCK POLLOCK, Sun Senior Sports Columnist

The other day, a friend told me how excited he was about St. Bonaventure’s latest men’s basketball recruiting class.

To be sure, there was plenty of room.

Of last year’s 12 scholarship players, nine are gone, five transfers who used up their eligibility — Kyrell Luc, Moses Flowers, Daryl Banks, Mika Adams-Woods and Charles Pride — in addition, center Chad Venning, who had a season left, transferred to Boston College.

Luc, Flowers, Banks and Venning gave coach Mark Schmidt two seasons and Woods and Pride, a year each.

The only returnees from last year’s team are improving center Noel Brown, a transfer from George Mason, and two redshirt freshmen, guard Miles Rose and forward Duane Thompson. A third redshirt freshman, Melian Martinez, entered the transfer portal after the season ended.

This marks the third straight year Schmidt has had to do a rebuild on the fly, though last season he had four returnees: Luc, Flowers, Banks and Venning.

A year ago, a pair of transfers — Max Anderson and Anquan Hill — left the program after one season.

That movement is emblematic of the dysfunction the transfer portal has created for major college sports, especially with the poorly-written Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) statute that permits athletes to be paid.

Part of the appeal of being a St. Bonaventure fan was knowing the players. Five key Bonnies finished their careers in May of 2022: four-year starters Kyle Lofton, Osun Osunniyi and Dominick Welch,

Jaren Holmes, a junior college transfer, who played three seasons at Bona and Jalen Adaway, who had two years with the Bonnies after a similar stint at Miami of Ohio.

The last two seasons, Bona’s roster has been mercenaries and while some of them might have cared a bit about the school, had been merely looking for where to transfer for the most NIL money.

Venning’s exit is particularly galling … that is to say “ungrateful.” Two years ago he was a slow, overweight center at a low-level Div. I school. Schmidt took a chance on him and he and his staff molded the 6-foot-10 pivot man into one of the top inside players in the Atlantic 10.

So much for loyalty, which is what made that 2021-22 team so special.

It’s hard to believe Schmidt isn’t annoyed about losing a talented center, but he’ll never admit it on the record. As with most coaches, they hate what the portal and NIL have done to the game, however he also knows he’s benefited in rebuilding three rosters.

Schmidt still has four open scholarships and his latest six additions, listed below, are three transfers, two junior college stars and a talented high schooler who committed in November.

Jaxon Edwards I 6-6 I Wing I Indianapolis

Transfer from Valparaiso played in 31 games with 21 starts. He averaged seven points and five rebounds with 40 blocks and 15 steals and scored double-figures nine times, double-figure rebounds twice and a career-best 15 boards versus nationally-ranked Illinois.

A McDonald’s All-America nominee following his senior season at Cathedral High, he helped lead his team to the 2022 Indiana 4A state title posting 11 points and six boards. He originally committed to Murray State as a freshman before moving to Valpo.

Chance Moore I 6-6 I Guard I Brookhaven, GA

Moore, 6-6, comes from Missouri State where he started 20 of 31 games last year, averaging 11 points and five rebounds in nearly 27 minutes per contest. Named to the MVC All-Bench Team scoring in double figures 17 times while ranking 11th in the league in blocks per game as MSU’s sixth man.

He began his collegiate career at Arkansas. Moore was a four-star recruit from McEachern High in Powder Springs, Ga. where he averaged over 23 points and nine rebounds as a senior. His squad went 28-5 and finished top four in the state.

He was considered the No. 97 overall recruit in the 2021 class according to 247Sports and the No. 24 shooting guard. ESPN ranked him as the No. 4 overall prospect in Georgia.

“Chance is a long, athletic scoring wing. He can shoot the ball from three and is a really good offensive rebounder,” Schmidt said. “He’s been a very productive player at a good level for the last couple years and is ready to make an immediate impact for us. Chance fits our up and down style well.”

Dasonte Bowen I 6-3 I Guard I Boston, MA

The Boston native played the last two seasons at Iowa and played in 51 career games including eight starts this season. He posted a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio with 49 assists and 16 turnovers this past year.

“Dasonte is a quick guard and open court attacker. He can score the ball at all three levels,” Schmidt said. “He played and started games at the high major level for two years and gained a lot of good experience.”

Lajae Jones I 6-7 I Forward I Jacksonville, FL

The top-scorer for Barton (KS) Community College, this season’s NJCAA Division 1 national champion.

He posted 15 points, nine rebounds and shot 54 percent from the floor including better than 42 percent from beyond the arc as he helped his squad to a 36-1 record and a 27-game win streak en route to the national junior college crown.

Jones earned NJCAA national championship tournament MVP honors for his play. In the national championship game, he posted 14 points and 13 rebounds for Barton and was selected as an NJCAA Second Team All-American.

Jones spent his freshman season at Tarleton State in the Western Athletic Conference

Prior to his college career, he earned all-state and all-conference honors at Fletcher High School in the Jacksonville area, and was honored as the District Player of the Year twice. He registered 21 points and seven rebounds as a senior, graduating with 1,426 points, 594 rebounds, 197 assists, 176 steals and 165 blocks in a do-it-all high school career. Jones was considered one of the nation’s top junior college transfers this spring. He chose St. Bonaventure over Memphis, Colorado State, South Florida and others.

“Lajae is a highly-skilled, scoring forward. He’s someone that can get a bucket in a lot of different ways,” Schmidt said. “He has a high basketball IQ and plays with a relentless motor. Lajae fits our style really well. He’s going to be a tremendous player for us for two years.”

Jonah Hinton I 6-3 I Guard I Naperville, IL

A transfer from Panola (Texas) College,he was a standout in the junior college ranks this past season where he averaged 14 points. Hinton was a sniper from deep, connecting on nearly 40 percent of his 3-point tries. He started all 34 games and helped Panola to a Top 20 national ranking and a spot in the second round of the NJCAA Tournament before ending the season at 27-7.

He starred at Naperville (Ill.) Central High School averaging 21 points to earn DuPage Valley Conference Most Valuable Player honors.

Hinton will have three years of collegiate eligibility remaining.

“Jonah can really shoot the ball from deep,” Schmidt said. “He’s a smooth player who has a great feel for the game. Jonah has a chance to be an All-Conference-type player in our league.”

Ebrahim Kaba I 6-9 I Guard I East Orange, NJ

Ebrahim signed with St. Bonaventure in November and played this past season at The Peddie School in New Jersey. Prior to the 2023-2024 season he played for (N.J.) St. Bernard’s. “He’s a big guard with NBA range and has the potential to be an elite wing at the college level,” St. Bernard’s coach Mergin Sina said.

“The relationship with St. Bonaventure is good and they have a great track record,” Kaba said. “The coaches believe in me and they have a plan for me and my game. They showed me what they will do to help me get better and to the next level.”

Kaba held 30 total offers, according to verbalcommits.com. He chose the Bonnies over North Texas, UC-Santa Barbara, Richmond, Fordham, Saint Louis, Washington State and others.

“He’s an athletic, highly skilled scoring wing who can really rebound,” Schmidt said. “He fits our system and is a great kid who has been well-coached. He has a tremendous shot with range; he can knock down the three.”

(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at cpollock@wnynet.net.)

Read more from Chuck:

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• A look at the first three picks by the Bills

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• A look at the Buffalo Bills going into the NFL draft

• Pollock on the Bonnies and the need for a defensive lineman in the NFL draft for the Bills

• O.J. Simpson left a mixed legacy … in the wrong order

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