Monday was a productive day for Pat Skerry and the Towson Tigers. Skerry secured commitments from two in-state guards for the Class of 2014.
Mount St. Joseph High (Md.) senior wing Jorden McNeil picked Towson over offers from College of Charleston, Toledo and UMBC while Clinton Christian School combo guard Byron Hawkins chose the Tigers over schools such as St. Joseph’s, George Washington and George Mason.
“It’s local and their basketball team was on the rise,” McNeil told the Baltimore Sun on Monday afternoon, following his decision. “I really liked it. I didn’t have any reason to wait, so I made the decision.”
“My visit was just so great and I really enjoyed my time there with the team, and the school was so fun,” Hawkins told Jamie Shaw after he made his pick. “I have a lot of faith in Coach Skerry and the staff, so that helped.”
The future backcourt mates join Milford Mill Academy small forward Allen Costley and Saint John’s High shooting guard Mike Morsell in Towson’s Class of 2014.
Skerry is continuing to move Towson in the right direction. He had success on the floor with a 17-win turnaround this past season, and is putting together nice work on the recruiting trail with four commits in its current recruiting class from the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area.
With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.
And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.
Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.
Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.