Kristen Morse / Gavel Media

Uncertainty Surrounds Men's Basketball

Despite notching its first ACC win early on in league play against Syracuse, the excitement surrounding the Boston College men’s basketball team quickly faded to a 2-16 in-conference finish this past season.  The young group led by Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson seemed to both play up and down depending on opponents, losing close battles with Nichols State and Fairfield but hanging tight with UNC and Duke. Consistency remains the focal issue for the Eagles, creating uncertainty from the coaching staff to the roster.

The departures of fifth-year seniors Mo Jeffers and Conor Tava along with senior Garland Owens will leave a void in the front court and leadership. Yet perhaps the greatest loss was announced in early April when AJ Turner received his release from the school to transfer.

A native of Warren, Michigan and former four star recruit, the sophomore has been a centerpiece on the Heights during his first two seasons.  He started in 28 of 32 games, averaging 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists this past season. His reliability and consistency will be missed, as he will now bring his elite assist-to-turnover ratio to the Big Ten. Turner announced April 26 his intent to transfer to Northwestern and play under Coach Chris Collins. Collins originally recruited Turner out of high school; although Northwestern was unable to get him on board the first time around, the program is now on the rise with Turner's approaching arrival. On Twitter, AJ later thanked the Boston College program for its support, saying “Boston College will always be a home to me; I wish my former teammates, coaching staff, and entire athletic program the best of luck in the future.”

Now, the exit of three graduates and Turner will in part be filled by three exciting recruits this fall. The class of 2021 features 6’9” power forward Lukas Kraljevic of Croatia, along with shooting guard Avery Wilson from Georgia. Wilson’s presence will add much-needed depth in the backcourt, while Kraljevic is a highly touted European recruit who projects to be a dynamic threat on the offensive end in the four spot. However, the most anticipated commitment in the class is Vin Baker Jr., son of four-time NBA All-Star Vin Baker. Baker Jr. has a lot to live up to: his father averaged 28 points per game at Hartford and registered 2,238 points in total. Baker Jr.'s ability to control the entire floor with shot-blocking to 3-point shooting is immediately evident even in his short highlight reel. Under-recruited and undervalued out of high school, Baker Jr., who stands at six feet seven inches, may be a taller version of Ky Bowman.

With the incoming class currently consisting of just three recruits, a transfer seems to be a likely possibility to fill out the roster. Recently, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello reported that Nisre Zouzoua of Bryant has heard from Boston College. Although he's a graduate transfer who would not be eligible for the upcoming season, Zouzoua would be a nice fit in maroon and gold. Voted First-Team All-Northeast Conference after averaging over 20 points a game, the sophomore guard would complement Robinson and Bowman quite well in the absence of Turner.

Altogether, a sense of both uncertainty and optimism seems to best describe the men’s basketball team for the 2017-2018 season. With the recent hiring of Martin Jarmond as BC's new athletic director, Jim Christian and Co. must generate progress after three losing seasons in three years. Yet the maturity of Bowman, Robinson, and Nik Popovic should bring more consistency to the Heights in the fall. Talent permeates the roster, from emerging forward Mike Sagay to sharpshooter Jordan Chatman, but the potential must translate to the win column in a near do-or-die season for Coach Christian and the Eagles.

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