Zach Lewis transferring to UMass

By Nick Veronica

Zach Lewis

Zach Lewis

Zach Lewis wanted to leave Canisius for a higher level of play. He’ll get that in the Atlantic 10.

After announcing his intent to transfer last month, ESPN reported Tuesday that Lewis is headed to UMass. He’ll have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2015-16 season.

Lewis, a Third Team All-MAAC selection in each of his two seasons at Canisius, must have made a decent impression on Minutemen coach Derek Kellogg during their Dec. 13 game in Amherst, Mass. UMass cruised to a 75-58 win while Lewis led the Griffs with 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting.

The jump from the MAAC to the A-10 should give Lewis a more appropriate role on offense. He was often asked to do too much on last season’s young Canisius team, and his shooting percentage suffered (dropping from .399 as a freshman alongside MAAC MVP Billy Baron to .334 as a sophomore). With better scorers around him, Lewis won’t have to be the main scoring threat and won’t need to create his own shot nearly as often.

The move to Massachusetts also sends Lewis closer to his hometown of Windsor, Conn. He turns 21 in October.

UMass last advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2013-14.

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Niagara loses 7th player from last season’s team

By Nick Veronica

niagara_logo_bigNiagara forward James Suber tweeted Friday that he has been granted his release from the team, making him the seventh player from last year’s Purple Eagles to leave the school.

Chris Casey now has only five returning scholarship players to a team that didn’t have any seniors.

Suber, a Philadelphia native, played in 21 games last season, averaging 2.2 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.

Here’s what Niagara has left from last year’s team, arranged by points per game:

Emile Blackman – Still on scholarship (1)
Ramone Snowden – Transfer
Dominique Reid – Still on scholarship (2)
Wesley Myers – Transfer
Karonn Davis – Still on scholarship (3)
Rayvon Harris – Transfer
Matt Scott – Still on scholarship (4)
James Suber – Transfer
Julian Richardson – Transfer
Cameron Fowler – Still on scholarship (5)
DayJar Dickson – Transfer
Anders Skou Hansen – Left mid-season
Thomas Fleming – Still on team, walk-on
David Varoli – Still on team, walk-on
(If I missed anyone, drop me a note on Twitter.)

Casey has signed only one player for next season, 6-foot-7 forward Dominic Robb.

UPDATE: There was one bit of positive news for Niagara Friday night, landing a commitment from Romero Collier, a guard from Syracuse-area Henninger High School. Collier, who also played quarterback on the football team, was named Central New York’s “Mr. Football” by the Syracuse Post-Standard in December. Casey still has six scholarships open for next year.

Exodus from Niagara continues with Snowden, Richardson

By Nick Veronica

niagara_logo_bigTwo more players are leaving the Niagara basketball team, bringing Chris Casey’s transfer count to five just since the end of the season.

Second-leading scorer Ramone Snowden (10.7 points per game) told the Niagara Gazette on Tuesday that he wants to play closer to his hometown in Virginia.

And Tuesday night, Julian Richardson, a reserve guard who played in 11 games, tweeted he is seeking a transfer.

Snowden and Richardson join Wesley Myers, Rayvon Harris and DayJar Dickson in fleeing from Lewiston.

Snowden’s loss may be the biggest of the bunch. He led the team in minutes and steals per game as a sophomore and was second in points, rebounds, assists and blocks. Only Emile Blackman scored more points per game (13.7).

With five players transferring out, plus the mid-season loss of Anders Skou Hansen, that gives Casey six remaining scholarships. Dominic Robb committed earlier this week, but Niagara only used 12 scholarships last season.

Here’s a look at who’s still left from Niagara’s roster last season, arranged by points per game:

Emile Blackman – Still on scholarship (1)
Ramone Snowden – Transfer
Dominique Reid – Still on scholarship (2)
Wesley Myers – Transfer
Karonn Davis – Still on scholarship (3)
Rayvon Harris – Transfer
Matt Scott – Still on scholarship (4)
James Suber – Still on scholarship (5)
Julian Richardson – Transfer
Cameron Fowler – Still on scholarship (6)
DayJar Dickson – Transfer
Anders Skou Hansen – Left mid-season
Thomas Fleming – Still on team, walk-on
David Varoli – Still on team, walk-on

If I missed anyone, drop me a note a Twitter.

Shannon Evans transferring from UB; blocked from Arizona State

By Nick Veronica

UB guard Shannon Evans is leaving the school, according to a report from Big 4 Talk’s Johnathan Snyder.

Evans

Evans

Further, Snyder reports that UB is blocking Evans from transferring to a number of schools, including Arizona State, where former UB coach Bobby Hurley just took over.

[UPDATE: UB reverses course, allows Evans to transfer anywhere]

Evans scored 15.4 points per game as a sophomore and dished out 4.6 assists per game. He was one of the most important players on the team’s MAC championship run.

Losing a stud like Evans reflects poorly on UB athletic director Danny White, who recently promoted assistant coach Nate Oats to head coach without conducting any other interviews. A main benefit of giving Oats the job was the perception that it would help keep the talented players on the team.

Evans also tweeted (and later deleted) that he couldn’t even get an audience with White to discuss his future:

For what it’s worth, teams usually block players from transferring to conference opponents or local rivals. Anything beyond that is seen as excessive.

If you’re tallying White’s recent blunders, mismanaging the Hurley situation was one, not conducting a national search for a new coach is two, and not accommodating one of the most important athletes on his campus would be three.

Evans’ comments to Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News are particularly damning:

“I wanted to talk to Danny White today,” Evans said. “I saw him. He said, ‘I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do this. Talk to Nate Oats, I told him everything.’ . . . It’s like he was in a rush.”

Evans said Oats informed him that UB would allow him to transfer but would block a move by Evans to go to Arizona State, Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion or another MAC school. Evans is a native of Suffolk, Va.

“They’re basically going to block all the schools I want to talk to,” Evans said. “I just feel like they don’t want my best interests and what’s best for me personally, and I really don’t like that. I feel like if I want my release, OK, any MAC school, I understand. But they shouldn’t block me from any school in a higher conference than Buffalo.”

Other updates:

Lewis: Transfer ‘was always lingering on my mind’; not headed to Oregon

By Nick Veronica

Zach Lewis

Zach Lewis

Zach Lewis, Canisius’ leading scorer, announced his intention to transfer earlier this week.

Apparently he’s been planning it for a while.

“The transfer was something I’ve been considering since before the season,” Lewis told Canisius’ school paper, The Griffin. “I just put it in the back of my mind because I wanted to focus on the season in front of me, being the best I could be and helping my team win a MAAC championship. But it was something that was always lingering on my mind.”

Lewis said he’s transferring because he wants to play at a higher level.

“The reason behind it is I just want to pursue my dreams,” he added. “That’s what it comes down to: I want to play at the highest level I can and compete with the best players I can.”

Lewis will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining for his new team. A source said he is not being recruited by Oregon, where former Canisius assistant Mike Mennenga is now working.

Here’s what else Lewis had to say:

On his production drop:

“I might have put some added pressure on myself when Phil [Valenti] went down and then Crump [Jermaine Crumpton].”

On last season:

“The way the seniors played this season was so phenomenal and it really took a lot of pressure off of me. Our team as a whole did a good job of stepping up. Coach [Jim Baron] kept telling us that each guy had to be ready to step up. Phil was huge and when he went down, Crump stepped up. Then when Crump went down, Bleek [Kevin Bleeker] got the nod and he played really well.”

His thoughts about Canisius:

“I love these guys. It has been a great experience at Canisius and I wouldn’t be the person or player that I am today with the coaches, my teammates, and my friends. This team shocked a lot of people and I’m proud of that.”

And next year’s Griffs:

“We ended the year on a high note. We have guys that are ready and hungry. We’ll definitely be a very strong defensive team as we were this year. It’ll be very exciting.”

Check out The Griffin’s full story for more.