Once again, the men's basketball team will have a completely different look in the upcoming season.
In addition to the departures of outgoing seniors Adonis Filer, and Marcus Neely, the Owls lost graduate transfer Frank Booker, and junior transfers Jeantal Cylla (UNC Wilmington) and Nick Rutherford (Monmouth).
Booker ironically now finds himself in the SEC playing for Final Four participant South Carolina.
Reserve forwards Matthew Reed (Anderson) and Jesse Hill (Tarleton) have also both transferred to DII schools.
Most importantly, the team will need to establish a new chemistry very quickly.
Below is the seven member newcomer cabinet, which is stocked heavy by the the JUCO ranks and offers five guards and two forwards:
Byron Abrams - FR PG 6-3, 175 lb – Heritage High School 9.2 PPG, 5.9 APG
Anthony Adger - SO PG 6-1, 170 lb – Spartanburg Methodist College 11.0 PPG, 53% FG, 43% 3PT
Tyler Byrd – SO SG 6-5, 200 lb - Gulf Coast State College 5.4 PPG
Payton Hulsey – SR G 6-4, 225 lb - College of Charleston 4.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG
Simeon Lepichev- JR F 6-10, 235 lb - Kankakee Community College 6.0 PPG, 38% 3PT
Je’Quan Perry – SO SG 6-3, 200 lb - Spartanburg Methodist College 11.7 PPG, 44% 3PT
Amir Smith – JR F 6-6, 200 lb - State Fair Community College 11.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG
Now at FAU for the master's program, Hulsey was listed in SB Nations Best Grad Players Available for 2017-18. After originally signing with Western Kentucky out of high school, he played just one season before moving on to junior college due to court time.
There he caught the eye of College of Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant and suited up for the Cougars for two years before graduating. He's a big body guard who rebounds very well and has strong defensive skills.
“He just has this calming effect on our team", said Grant of Hulsey. "He’s older, he’s tough and he’s already been through a lot in his career.”
Adger and Perry are the hopeful replacements on the offensive side with solid numbers from the floor in both the mid range and long game. Adger indicated that the Owls' staff would like to see him in a role similar to departing leading scorer Filer.
"They are telling me they want me to play the same role and be a good leader on and off the court," Adger said.
However, not to be overlooked, Lepichev will add another 6-10 frame to the roster. He has a good outside shot when it is taken but conversely presents a liability at the charity stripe where he was just 36% last season at Kankalee.
His counterpart at forward, Amir Smith, actually signed with fellow Conference USA member Rice before heading to JUCO. Smith is a physical player and gets to the line fairly often where he closed out nearly 70% of his attempts for State Fair in 2016-17.
Rounding out the class are previously announced guards Byrd and Abrams. Byrd had a standout high school career netting just under 2,100 points and Abrams represents the lone freshman in the class.
"Byron Abrams is a high-level passer with great length and height for the point guard position", said Head Coach Michael Curry.
“Tyler Byrd has the total package. He’s very comfortable taking advantage of his size and strength in the post and also has the ability to shoot the basketball with range", Curry added.
Curry shifted the Owls' style of play to a faster tempo last season and will likely look to do the same with this incoming class as well.
The Owls will begin their 2017-18 campaign with an exhibition contest at cross town foe Lynn University on November 5th.