With a team that had just one senior and three juniors, Niagara was expected to have a tough time navigating the 2011-12 season.
But while the Purple Eagles did go 14-19 overall and 8-10 in the MAAC there were positives, most notably MAAC Rookie of the Year Juan’Ya Green (17.7 ppg, 4.5 apg), classmates Antoine Mason (15.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Ameen Tanksley (8.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and sophomore Marvin Jordan (10.4 ppg).
But if there was one thing Niagara lacked besides experience it was size, with Scooter Gillette and Eric Williams being their tallest players at 6-8 (Gillette was listed as weighing 210 while Williams weight 225 pounds).
Niagara needed size and help on the boards heading into 2012-13, and in La Salle transfer Devon White the hope is that the Purple Eagles will improve in those areas.
A 6-8, 240-pound forward from Philadelphia, White averaged 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game for the Explorers last season while ranking second on the team in blocked shots (30).
White, who will be eligible immediately for Niagara since he earned his degree at La Salle, averaged 10.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game against opponents that both La Salle and Niagara faced last season.
Niagara also adds guard Tahjere McCall to the roster, and the 6-4 guard was labeled as a “classic late bloomer” by the Philadelphia Daily News according to the release.
Niagara was one of the poorer shooting teams in the MAAC last season and their defense left something to be desired as well.
But most importantly the Purple Eagles needed an infusion of bulk inside in order to improve their rebounding margin of -3.6 rebounds per game, a number that ranked ninth in the conference last season (opponents grabbed 36% of their missed shots).
It would be unfair to expect White to step onto the floor and dominate from day one, but for a team that could be a sleeper in the MAAC with improved work on the boards he’s a good addition.