Seton Hall in review: Roster breakdown and what comes next
Tyrese Samuel and Jamir Harris each announced last week that they'll be back with the Pirates and play for Shaheen Holloway in 2022-23.
Seton Hall had the fortune of hiring the most popular college basketball coach of the 2022 cycle. He’s being put to the test now that it’s time to build next year’s roster, and so far, he’s passing that test.
Tyrese Samuel and Jamir Harris each announced last week that they’ll be back with the Pirates and play for Shaheen Holloway in 2022-23, solidifying some of the roster that remains in the post-Jared Rhoden world.
In Harris’ case, he chose to use his fifth year of NCAA eligibility all athletes were granted during the COVID-19 pandemic era. Back on Senior Night he was non-committal either way about returning, but fast forward to Holloway’s introduction March 31, and Harris showed which way he was leaning.
“It’s a great day for New Jersey,” Harris told Gannett New Jersey. “He’s a Jersey legend. Everybody here today is very excited to see what he has in store for us.”
The cherry on top for Harris: the chance to play with his younger brother Jaquan, another combo guard who’s part of Seton Hall’s recruiting class of 2022.
With other guards having exhausted their collegiate eligibility, Harris’ return looms large. The more I look at this roster, the more I’m surprised that this much of the core is expected to be back in Holloway’s debut season.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be tough sledding in Year 1. With Jared Rhoden, Bryce Aiken and Myles Cale out the door, the Pirates are losing their three leading scorers, not to mention their top rim protector in Ike Obiagu and four of their top five rebounders.
“He’s gonna have a lot of expectations,” Seton Hall AD Bryan Felt said of Holloway. “But I also know that when you come into a program and you’re the new coach, it doesn’t just click right away. It’s gonna be a process. It’s always a process, and Shaheen knows that more than anybody. So I think it would be fair to make sure that we don’t expect Final Fours in the first year, let’s put it that way.”
So let’s take quick stock of who’s staying, who’s going and how that shapes the 2022-23 roster:
Out: Jared Rhoden, Myles Cale, Bryce Aiken, Ike Obiagu, Alexis Yetna
Rhoden turned pro and is participating in the Portsmouth Invitational this week. That’s a long-running postseason showcase/camp in Portsmouth, Va., for college seniors aiming for the pros. Though Rhoden technically can withdraw and apply to use his extra year of NCAA eligibility, he isn’t expected to and it’s easier for this exercise to assume he is gone.
The same goes for Yetna, though I’m seeing some disagreement online about the perceived chances he’ll announce a return to college rather than turn pro in Europe. Yetna is from Paris.
Back: Kadary Richmond, Jamir Harris, Tyrese Samuel, Tray Jackson, Jo Smith, Jahari Long, Brandon Weston, Ryan Conway, Tyler Powell
You can see the makings of a starting five in that group, but the most uncertain spot is down low. Without Obiagu and Yetna, who will play center? Jo Smith logged a whole 18 minutes last season, and it would be a major ask to have him jump from there to a starting role. Stranger things have happened, for sure, but center seems to be a position Holloway will target in the transfer portal.
Meanwhile, Tray Jackson earned himself the starting job at small forward, though some of his best performances this season were when he came off the bench. Jackson made it into just three games in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season after transferring from Missouri, but with a year of work under his belt, he blossomed.
“I always knew that’s the way Tray was going to play,” Kevin Willard said after Jackson went 5-for-7 for 16 points (plus six rebounds) in the season debut against Fairleigh Dickinson. “The COVID summer really hurt Tray because A, he was sitting out, and B, we didn’t think he was playing, so it just didn’t work. Tray had a great summer, and that’s kind of what we see every day in practice.”
Jackson upped his scoring average from 1.3 to 6.8 ppg, his shooting percentage from 25.0% to 46.6% and his 3-point rate from nothing to a 39.5%. At 6-foot-9 and change, he can play stretch four in certain lineups and keep defenses honest with his outside shot. I enjoyed watching his game grow this season and we have to figure there’s another level he can hit as a full-time starter.
The trio of Weston, Powell and Conway gave Hall the No. 32 recruiting class of the 2021 cycle, per 247Sports’ composite rankings, with the four-star Weston the gem of the group. But an ankle injury kept Weston sidelined all year, Powell only played in garbage time and Conway didn’t log a single minute. I think out of necessity, those three are due for a step forward in 2022-23, playing more minutes off the bench at the wings and at point guard in Conway’s case.
Incoming freshmen: Jaquan Harris, Jaquan Sanders
Percy Daniels, a 6-foot-9 center from Baton Rouge, La., reopened his recruitment this week, and he did not mention anything like “Seton Hall will remain an option” in his announcement. It’s another blow to Seton Hall’s center depth if Daniels indeed heads elsewhere. With Daniels part of the group, 247Sports ranked the Pirates’ class 41st in the country and third in the Big East; all three are composite three-stars.
Coaching staff: TBD
Here lies the other big question mark. Holloway has yet to hire a staff, not even one assistant coach. Compounding that, Willard’s top assistant coach Donald Copeland is taking the head coaching job at Wagner, the ironic end of a dragon-eating-its-tail cycle in the local coaching ranks. Holloway left Saint Peter’s for Seton Hall, Jersey City native Bashir Mason left Wagner for the same job at Saint Peter’s and Seton Hall loses its assistant coach as he fills the Wagner vacancy.
We should know more about Holloway’s staff soon enough. Then it’ll be time for him to hit the recruiting trail for his alma mater.
Take a look back through Seton Hall’s season through this selection of my previous stories about the Pirates: