One of the four players to make the decision to leave Rutgers in the aftermath of the Mike Rice controversy was 6-6 guard/forward Mike Poole, who played three seasons at the school prior to Rice being fired.
Ultimately the Rosedale, N.Y. native made the decision to transfer to Iona, with the hope that he would be granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA as opposed to having to sit out the 2013-14 campaign. On Wednesday Iona announced that Poole has received an NCAA Legislative Waiver, which makes him eligible to play immediately.
“I’m really excited to have a student-athlete of Mike’s caliber join us this season,” head coach Tim Cluess said in the release. “His leadership and toughness during summer workouts have been tremendous and he will be an integral part of our program.”
Poole wasn’t much of a scorer during his three seasons at Rutgers, posting averages of 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. But Poole’s value comes in the “little things,” as he’ll provide value to Iona in the areas that tend to be overlooked by many.
The Gaels, who made their second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament last season, have to account for the departure of leading scorer and MAAC Player of the Year Momo Jones (22.6 ppg, 3.4 apg). But five of Iona’s top seven scorers from last season, most notably guard Sean Armand (16.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and forward David Laury III (13.1, 10.3) are back in New Rochelle.
Armand set a school record last season with 112 made three-pointers, and given the pace at which Iona plays (8th nationally in adjusted tempo per kenpom.com) the Gaels should once again rank among the highest scoring teams in the country.
Their competition within the MAAC will look a bit different, as Loyola’s left for the Patriot League and reigning regular season champion Niagara lost a lot of production in the aftermath of Joe Mihalich leaving to take over at Hofstra. Also of note are the additions of Monmouth and Quinnipiac, and Jimmy Patsos (formerly at Loyola) is now running the show at Siena.