After a banner season for the Spiders this past year, where the team made its first appearance in March Madness since 2011, the University of Richmond men’s basketball team will gain some new additions to its lineup. Over the last month, three players have committed to transfer to UR.
The first to commit, Neal Quinn, is a junior center who spent the last three years at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. He announced his transfer through Instagram on April 10, with a caption that read: “Super excited to announce that I have committed to finish my college career at Richmond!!”
Quinn, who will wear #32 for the Spiders this upcoming season, began his career for the Leopards averaging only 4.5 points per game, but by his junior season, he was able to bring that average up to 14.7 points per game — which helped him garner Second Team All-Patriot League honors in February. Quinn also averaged 7.4 rebounds per game to complement that offensive output.
When making the decision to transfer, Quinn took a few things into consideration — one being that his coach at Lafayette had decided to retire, he said.
“Pretty much midway towards the end of the season, I found out my coach was retiring and I felt like I wanted to put myself in a position to play at a higher level and to have high major training, strength and conditioning,” he said.
Quinn also said the style of play at UR was a selling point for him.
While mentioning some of the great centers who had come before him at UR — T.J. Cline and Grant Golden — he said that Richmond does a great job with big players and allowing them to make decisions.
“That’s kind of something I’ve been doing a little bit at Lafayette, so I’m looking forward to doing that more at Richmond,” he said.
UR Head coach Chris Mooney said Quinn had been a pretty excellent post player at Lafayette who could score and pass.
“He shoots a very high percentage, is a great passer, he has a great understanding of how to play,” said Mooney.
Next to commit was Isaiah Bigelow, a redshirt senior guard transferring from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Bigelow only played in two seasons in his time for the Terriers because he was redshirted his first year and sat from an injury during the 2019-2020 season.
The guard will wear #4 next year for the Spiders. He announced his destination through a post on Instagram on April 14, and below a video he wrote, “110% COMMITTED.”
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“I liked everything about Richmond for one, but I really liked their offensive system,” he said. “Wofford has a good system as well. So I knew that I would fit right in and know how to play in a system like Richmond.”
In deciding where to play next season, Bigelow mentioned how easy it was to make the decision to play for the Spiders.
“I watched a lot of film, a lot of games,” he said. “Coach [Mooney] showed me a lot of clips of how I will be played, and it was kind of a no-brainer for me.”
Mooney spoke about how Bigelow had been a part of some good teams in his time at Wofford,
and he said that Bigelow is a versatile player — something the Spiders look for in players when recruiting.
UR’s third transfer player to commit, first-year forward Jason Roche, who was the Southern Conference’s Freshman of the Year, also announced his intentions by way of Instagram on April 24, writing under a video post, “COMMITTED #trustyourwork,” alongside the Spider men’s basketball Instagram handle.
Roche will wear #11 for the Spiders next season. This past season he played at The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, South Carolina. While playing for the Bulldogs, he averaged 13.2 points per game and made an astounding 110 three-pointers in just 31 games.
The forward’s ability to shoot from the arc will be a welcome succession to Jacob Gilyard, who set a Spider men’s basketball single-season record on March 12 with his 86th three-pointer against the University of Dayton.
“Jason Roche — obviously the stats jump off the page with how many three-point shots that he made,” Mooney said. “Had a tremendous freshman year at a place that’s not easy to have a great freshman year because at the Citadel, your freshman year is pretty difficult off the court.”
Roche said once he entered the transfer portal, he narrowed his choices down to three schools: Rice University, the University of Missouri and UR.
“I think for me, it was the best basketball fit,” Roche said. “I thought that the way Coach Mooney runs the offense and runs the team was something that fits me, fits my play style and also the way the locker room environment is. I felt like it fit my personality really well.”
With a number of players leaving next season who had been around the program for a long time, Mooney said the transfer portal was something they had prepared for in advance.
“We had fifteen scholarship players, knowing that at least we were going to lose four in those super seniors [Golden, Gilyard, Nathan Cayo and Nick Sherod],” he said. “So yeah, we had planned that we would probably utilize the transfer portal as the best way to get players who could potentially contribute.”
Quinn, Bigelow and Roche will join returning players Matt Grace and Andre Gustavson for the first time next season, and despite hailing from different programs, everyone had a similar goal in mind for next season: to repeat what was accomplished this past year.
“I think, talking to a lot of the guys, I think that everybody has the same idea of spin the block: we want to win this thing again,” Quinn said. “And you know, getting me, Isaiah, Jason and the new guys, we want to be a part of that championship experience.”
The men’s basketball team will start their 2022-2023 campaign this November, and will spend the offseason getting a feel for the new lineup.
Contact sports writer Jimmy James at email@example.com.
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