|Ronnie Arrow and South Alabama went 2-1 on their preseason trip to Canada. (US Presswire)|
The “transfer culture” of today's college basketball means that nearly every program is going to have at least one or two imports on its team. South Alabama and coach Ronnie Arrow take it a new level, though.
Of the 14 players on the Jaguars' roster, there are only five who came straight from the high school ranks. Five players – Trey Anderson (Saint Mary's), Xavier Roberson (TCU), Wendell Wright (Portland State), Jeremy Jones (Kansas State) and Dionte Ferguson (Morehead State) – played at Division-I schools prior to South Alabama. Seven players also spent time at a junior college.
Some coaches might find that sort of roster difficult to deal with – but not Arrow.
“Because of my background, coaching junior college, you're used to turnover every year,” he said. “You have a lot of track record of doing that.”
Arrow also has a track record of success with this type of roster-building, finishing below .500 in just two of his 11 seasons as a Division-I head coach, including five 20-win campaigns.
Because there are so many personalities and talents to mesh before the season begins, he was excited the Jaguars were able to take a trip to Canada for three games in August.
“Any time you get a chance to evaluate your team early, it's good,” Arrow said. “We got to get a jumpstart on the season.”
What Arrow learned: “We should have a better shooting team. It's also one of the better defensive teams I've been around. We have a chance to be a really good defensive team. That's their MO; they like to play defense. Overall, they also got to see that, with a good defense, we score a lot of points.”
Who stood out: “Augustine Rubit. He did very well, averaged 18 a game and he hardly played the second game. He went to the Impact Camp in Vegas this summer, and definitely improved his skills facing the bucket. He's a beast inside when you get him the ball. He also added to his repertoire going out, a 14-18 foot jumper, which will cause some more problems for defenses.”
Biggest concern: “Finding consistency at the point guard spot. We have Trey Anderson, who started 25 games for us. Dre Connor came in and got very quality minutes. He loves to play defense, and was one of our top assist players on the trip.”
- Mychal Ammons averaged 15.6 points and 7.8 rebounds down the stretch of the season last year, and Arrow is expecting an all-conference type of season from Ammons as a sophomore. “He worked very hard on his outside skills,” Arrow said. “He'll be able to play the three and the four, which means more playing time.”
- Arrow is excited about the size and depth of this year's Jaguars. Viktor Juricek and Gregoryshon Magee will help shore up the frontcourt, while JC transfers Antoine Allen and Dre Connor should provide help at the guard positions. Moreover, Xavier Roberson is back from a foot injury after averaging 9.9 points through eight games. Moreover, all five starters return.
- Despite putting up big numbers last season, Rubit has a chance to increase his production because of the increased options. “Anytime you can add shooters, it just opens the offense even more,” Arrow said. “Aug got doubled up a lot last year; this year, teams won't be able to double down on him as much.”
- Shortly after the trip ended, Arrow announced the addition of transfers Jeremy Jones and Dionte Ferguson. Jones is a 6-foot-2 guard from Kansas State who Arrow recruited out of junior college. Ferguson averaged 1.2 points at Morehead State.
- With so many weapons offensively, what's the ceiling for South Alabama this season? “When we have off days, they're in the gym working,” Arrow said. “Good things can happen for us if they continue to work hard.”