The Radford Highlanders were champions of the Big South as recently as 2009, winning 21 games, making the NCAA tournament, and seeming ready to build a dynasty under Brad Greenberg.
Fast-forward to 2012, and the Highlanders have completed a miserable 6-26 campaign that followed a 5-24 season one year prior. Greenberg – brother of Virginia Tech’s Seth – quit in disgrace one year ago following revelations that he had committed NCAA infractions. Relative unknown Mike Jones has been left to clean up the mess.
Good news continues to be mixed with bad news for Jones, who announced the signing of 6’6″ forward Juwan Wells at roughly the same time as he revealed that he will lose high-scoring sophomore Jareal Smith and role-playing forward Lukas Winegarner. Smith — who led the team in scoring as a freshman — is the bigger loss by far.
Jones, saddled with a very difficult rebuilding job, chooses to focus on the positives. “[Wells] does a little bit of everything well,” Jones told the Roanoke Times. “With some added strength and the further development of his game, he can be a nice player in the Big South.”
Jones is working hard to bring Radford back to prominence, and he has the backing of one of college basketball’s most popular coaches in VCU’s Shaka Smart. Jones was a VCU assistant before making the move to Radford, and Smart’s willingness to vouch for Jones’ talent and character no doubt went a long way toward assuring the Highlander faithful that he’s the man for the job. There’s little doubt that his complete overhaul of the program will take time, however, as he struggles to build a roster of his own players.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He likes to crack wise and talk college hoops @stfhoops on Twitter.