Hattiesburg – Miss South Men’s basketball coach Jay Ladner spent his sabbatical giving the floor straight.
at 7-26, golden eagles It wasn’t a good season in 2021-22. Five of their top six scorers left through the transfer window after the season. Acknowledging these facts during discussions with potential additions, Ladner sold them on the opportunity.
Eight incoming diversions were ready to buy. The Golden Eagles completed an extensive rebuilding process over just a few months, retaining just five players from last season’s roster.
“We need to win,” Ladner said. “My manager didn’t tell me that. We can make all the excuses in the world, I’m no excuses. We’re going into our fourth season and we’re going to come out with two really tough seasons. The first year was what it was, we got here late. The last two years have been tough in terms of win and loss record, This is unacceptable.”
Ladner’s major addition title this off-season is Mercer Felipe Haase’s transfer. Listed at 6-foot-9, Haase scored 14.8 points per game last season and fired 40.6 percent from a 3-point range.
He made it to Miss South thanks to his relationship with new assistant coach Juan Cardona, who also came from Mercer.
“Really, he shoots it at a high level,” Ladner said. “to have [6-foot-9] A man with the ability to extend defense his size is just a weapon that we did not possess.”
Goalkeeper Naftali Alvarez is another Mercer addition. He scored 12.6 points per game and averaged 3.4 assists last season, and was a third-team selection in the All-South Conference the year before.
Ladner also added Nick Williams to his squad this off-season, and helped the Golden Eagles reach goalkeeper Austin Crowley. One of four stars, Crowley started 11 games for the Rebels last season and contributed less than five points per game.
“We kind of got lucky,” Ladner said. “I would say, it’s a combination of luck and maybe some strategic luck in the fact that they have relationships with guys at the Gate.”
Donovan Ivory, the 6-foot-6 top scorer from Green Bay, is also joining the fold. At six feet eight feet tall, Victor Hart will provide some significant size. Guard Kobe Montgomery will join the Golden Eagles from the college prep ranks, while guards Nico Aguirre and Marcelo Perez will advance from Division Two.
Ladner has made it clear that he doesn’t care about the new college basketball scene created by the one-off transfer rule. He preferred to build his program with a foundation of high school prospects.
But by adapting to the new conditions, Ladner said, the Golden Eagles made the first division transitions of exploration a priority.
“I’m not saying we don’t recruit high school students, but it should be a special situation,” he said. “If we recruit a player in high school, and they come in and do a really good job, whether they’re at the gate or not, they will be recruited. It’s a fact. It’s a sad reality, but it’s a fact, and we have to accept that.”
The Golden Eagles lost the top scorer and Rebel captain Tyler Stevenson on the gate after opting to move to the UIC. A few other major shareholders have also left.
Of the seven games, Ladner said there are some contributors he’d like back and others likely needing a fresh start as the Golden Eagles sought to turn things around after showing off 1-17 at the USA Conference play.
Ladner scours the portal to fill his roster, prioritizing experience. Every player he brought in has at least two seasons of college basketball under his belt. The 2022-23 roster will not include a single new student.
“There were times when we were preparing, and I would look at our team and look at the other team and think, ‘Oh my God, they’re guys,’ and we had a group of guys – I’m looking for guys most of the time,” Ladner said. “We came out of a tough season that was unacceptable and I think part of our getting older was to give us more experience, and let’s see if we can change that thing.”
You can reach Miss Southern writer David Eckert at email@example.com or on Twitter @davideckert98.