With the departure of three key front court players from last season’s NCAA tournament team, it’s safe to say that Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy is in need of some depth in the paint.
Gerson Santo returns for his senior season with Navy transfer J.J. Avila and junior college transfer Marcus Holt joining the program this summer, but they’re essentially all that CSU has in the front court to this point in the offseason.
While he won’t be able to help the Rams in game action this coming season, a commitment from former Southern Illinois forward Dantiel Daniels will help Colorado State down the line.
Daniels dealt with ankle and groin injuries for much of his sophomore season in Carbondale, averaging 7.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per contest. As a freshman the 6-5 forward led the Missouri Valley Conference with an average of 1.6 blocked shots per game.
According to Matt L. Stephens of The Coloradoan, Daniels knew that he would fit in at Colorado State before the completion of his official visit to the school.
“I really liked the community, and the town of Fort Collins is really nice. We went down to the strip (Old Town), and I was comfortable. I got a really good vibe from the coaches, too,” Daniels said in a phone interview.
“But I was sold on the town. It was crazy, because Friday, I hadn’t even seen the basketball part of it — just the town. I knew then and there, that this is a place I feel really comfortable with. I got to talking with coach (Larry) Eustachy and all the coaches and decided this was the best situation for me to be in.”
Given his height there may be more than a few who consider Daniels to be undersized, especially given some of the big men Mountain West school such as New Mexico (Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk) and UNLV (Khem Birch) can put on the floor on a nightly basis.
But consider what former CSU forwards Pierce Hornung (6-5, 210) and Greg Smith (6-6, 221) were able to accomplish during their time in Fort Collins.
Hornung averaged 8.7 rebounds per game and a junior and 8.9 as a senior, and Smith wasn’t too shabby on the glass himself with an average of 5.1 rebounds per game in each of his last two years.
Those two (in addition to 7-footer Colton Iverson, of course) played a part in Colorado State ranking second nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (CSU rebounded 41.2% of its missed shots) and first in defensive rebounding percentage (76.3%) last season.
Unfortunately for Colorado State Daniels has to sit out the 2013-14 season per NCAA transfer rules, so he can’t help them with the front court depth issue just yet. But with one scholarship remaining, don’t be surprised if CSU looks to grab a big man who can play next season.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.