Romaro Gill, freshmen helping Seton Hall during preseason

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7-foot-2 junior college transfer Romaro Gill is helping Seton Hall in an unlikely way — and he’s not the only newcomer doing so.

When Kevin Willard and his coaching staff quietly landed the Jamaican big man — emphasis on big back in April, the commitment invoked flashbacks of when Seton Hall was regularly targeting unknown recruits from the Canarias Basketball Academy.

How Romaro Gill’s on-court performances will pan out is unknown, but he, and a few other new Pirates, are already making an impact on the practice court in the bowels of Walsh Gym.

“They’re getting me better every day man,” emphasized fellow big Angel Delgado at Wednesday’s Big East Media Day.

“I’m really excited to see these guys working hard and I’m just excited to play every day in practice against them. Every time there is practice I’m excited because I’m about to get better.”

Most relevant to Delgado is now having to against a man mountain, day-in, day-out. Facing physically-imposing centers is one of Angel’s most notable weaknesses and Gill is already helping his new teammate out: Delgado has added height on his hook shot as a result.

“He’s like 7’3, he’s huge man,” a wide-eyed Delgado told me. “I think he touches the end of the backboard, that’s how tall he is.”

“With Romaro, the one thing he [Delgado] hasn’t had in practice is another big guy to really battle him,” explained Kevin Willard. “Romaro is 7-1 and 250 pounds, he’s a big guy. He [Angel] has struggled at times scoring against bigger guys and he’s kind of figured it out now — what he has to do.

“He’s got a 7’6 wingspan, so trying to score on him is not easy. Angel has had trouble with guys with length where he couldn’t power them down. He’s really worked hard on his face-up game, he’s learned how to score off the dribble more, he’s made him adjust his game where last year he didn’t have to do any of that in practice. So he’s forced Angel to expand his game.”

The most peculiar thing is that Gill, a junior college transfer from Indiana’s Vincennes University who has only hooped for a few years now, may not play a single minute this season.

Tapped as a sure-fire redshirt candidate, Willard is unsure what he will do with Gill. Remember that Willard was quite clear a few years ago about how he regretted not redshirting Canarias Basketball Academy center Aaron Geramipoor during his freshman year; if Gill were to redshirt, he would still be eligible to practice.

“We’re not sure what we’re going to do with Romaro right now,” said Willard. “He continues to improve every day in practice which is what you want to see, but with Angel back is he really going to get significant minutes where we’re going to burn a year? I have to see, we don’t know.”

Whether he plays at all is still up in the air, but it appears clear that Gill is having quite the impact behind the scenes.

Aside from Romaro, a trio of freshmen and a surprising sophomore are also making waves on the practice court, providing Willard with what he has labelled as “possibly my deepest team ever.”

“Right now, we’ll probably be at least ten, maybe 11 deep,” he said.

Eron Gordon has had an unbelievable preseason. Myles Cale, since he’s been back from shoulder surgery, it’s astonishing what he’s done in three weeks. Sandro [Mamukelashvili], I can play him at two different spots, which is nice. Jordan Walker is a guy that’s electric, when he gets it — he’s so young — he’s going to give us a different dimension.”

Gordon, a natural two-guard who has been overlooked by many people on the depth chart and tapped as likely to transfer, appears poised to slot in ahead of Walker and behind Khadeen Carrington at point guard.

“I’m excited about Jordan, but he’s a big work in progress,” explained Willard when I asked him what happens when Carrington isn’t at the ‘one’.

“He just turned 18. When you’re around a bunch of older guys and you’re an 18-year-old kid, you try to act older. He just has to focus more on understanding he’s a freshman and has a lot to learn. And as he does that, he’s going to get more and more playing time.

“Eron Gordon has been playing fantastic, I have a lot of confidence that he would be able to step in there and fill a void if we had a void.”

While some may interpret Gordon being ahead of Walker as negative when considering Walker’s top-150 recruiting ranking, it can also be seen as Gordon — who was a 3-star recruit — embracing the challenge and successfully adapting to play another position. That only helps the depth chart.

Last but not least, Sandro Mamukelashvili is embodying the quietly-hyped under-the-radar model perfectly.

Set to see minutes off the bench at both small forward and power forward, the 6-foot-10 freshman is unknown outside of Seton Hall circles, but expected by those close to the program to really blossom.

Initially described by a member of the coaching staff as similar to another Canarias Basketball Academy product in Patrik Auda, I asked Willard what he thought of that assessment.

“Yeah, a little bit more skilled and a better shooter than Pat was as a freshman. More athletic, probably a better passer, but not as tough as Pat was. When Pat was a freshman and he was with Herb [Pope] and Jordan [Theodore], yeah, so Pat being with those guys, he had to be tough. I think Sandro is a little bit more skilled and more finesse than Pat was.”

With such a massive frame, I’m predicting Sandro to emerge as a hybrid between Auda and Veer Singh. As Willard said, he will sport some offensive attributes Auda did not have early in his career, and he will be the physical presence on both sides of the ball that Singh didn’t possess.

Here is my projected depth chart heading into Seton Hall’s exhibition with LIU Post on 11/4:
PG – Carrington – Gordon – Walker
2G – Powell – Carrington – Cale
SF – Desi – Sandro – Powell/Cale
PF – Sanogo – Nzei – Sandro
C – Delgado – Nzei – Gill

  • Louie Dee

    Another great report Chris.
    I hope they are also working on Delgado getting double teamed because it’s going to happen all season long.
    Also did anyone ask them about their foul shooting?? Our foul shooting was horrendous last year and cost us a few games.

    • ThePirateFan

      Good point about free throw shooting. I think that’ll be bigger for angel’s game than adding a foot to his hook shot.

      • VinBick

        There is no excuse acceptable for this team, especially Angel, not improving greatly at the line this season. Hard work always reaps good results. Someone has to be assigned to teaching this vital skill to our guys. I think our team was one of the worst foul shooting teams in the nation last season.

    • Thanks Louie. I think I may have lobotomized FT shooting from my memory…

  • Marklemore84

    Was pumped til I saw the words “Veer Singh” haha

    • Haha. Didn’t mean the talent necessarily but the mold. Sandro will have the ability to knock-down outside shots, but also play inside like Auda.

  • Matt

    How is Taurean Thompson helping during practice? He can participate in all practices this year? Love the story on Gill etc.

    • Thanks Matt. Surprisingly, TT didn’t come up a single time to my knowledge, and I have 35+ minutes of audio from Willard (90%+ of total time he spoke) — I also didn’t think to ask; I suspect someone will speak with him at SH Media Day.

      Assuming there isn’t any special stuff going on with him, redshirts are available to practice as well.

  • SHU95

    I remember thinking when they signed Gil that it was so Angel could practice against Pro level size… Having never seen him play, I think anything Gil provides on the court would be a bonus. It’s hard not to like what we are hearing about this team. The biggest area of need on last years team was depth in my opinion. Arkansas was deeper, and it showed at the end of the game last year in the first round. It sounds like we go at least 9 deep and possibly as much as 11 if everything breaks right. Thanks for all of the great coverage, looking forward to a great season!!

    • When Willard said “but with Angel back is he really going to get significant minutes where we’re going to burn a year?” I almost interpret it as Gill’s commitment was hedging that Angel would move on, at least partially..

  • ThePirateFan

    Surprised to hear so much little about Cale. Anytime a freshman can contribute it’s nice, I would’ve thought the lone top 100 snag would’ve commanded some more hype!

    Especially considering the subtle red flag put up regarding walker. Doesn’t sound like he’ll see much time, and considering the reasoning why perhaps he won’t be very happy about it.

    • SHU95

      What is the reasoning? (Walker)

      • ThePirateFan

        “I’m excited about Jordan, but he’s a big work in progress. He just turned 18. When you’re around a bunch of older guys and you’re an 18-year-old kid, you try to act older. He just has to focus more on understanding he’s a freshman and has a lot to learn.”

        The whole ‘when you’re around older guys you try to act older’ and ‘he has to understand he’s a freshman’ feels like a knock on his maturity to me.

        • SHU95

          I wasn’t aware, makes sense, thanks for the insight

    • PadrePirate

      Yeah. It’s not usually KW’s style to make negative comments about players during interviews, esp character related. Not a good sign this early on.

    • He was actually the crown jewel of the class until Sandro’s pick-up and subsequent hype. Jerry Carino also wrote how he was getting big minutes in practice as starting SG since Powell was hurt (same foot he has had problems with since HS…)

      I think we may see the 10~ MPG we expected out of Walker, from Cale instead. Perhaps more.

  • Matty P

    Anyone get to see the team in the blue and white scrimmage today? Just wondering how they looked. Saw a couple quick highlights which included Delgado swishing a three point attempt which was a bit of a surprise seeing he not only took one but swished it.

  • SHU95

    Anthony Nelson to announce tomorrow according to Zagsblog. SHU, Minn, Dayton…

  • PadrePirate

    The Walker comment underscores the interest in landing a 2018 PG. Even if Walker and McKnight do Ok, and Gordon comes into his own, I’d still look for a 4th guard.

  • PirateLacrosse14

    Great article, Chris! I really like the idea of Sandro playing the 3, and feel he’ll benefit early from the height mismatches that will come on offense. Two worries I have though are his team role and the defensive side of the ball.

    Sandro can clearly shoot well, but I hope he doesn’t start to camp out behind the arc like Veer. His height is too valuable (even with Delgado) to consistently keep away from the rim, and from the video I’ve seen he looks like he can add that elbow to mid-range level element to this team. As for defense, do you feel they may have him guard 4s and have Sanogo & Nzei cover the smaller/quicker 3s?

    • Thank you. Imagine a 6’10 guy at the 3! Does the NBA even have that?

  • PadrePirate

    Looks like our friend Isaiah Whitehead is in the process of landing himself in a D league. He went from backup to bench depth to “DNP” in the first 3 games, even with Lin out for the year. Hope he can work his way back up like Dinwiddie did.

    • Shame. Not a natural PG. Retrospect, but should have stayed?

      • Joe Palumbo

        Tough telling him that when he’s looking at guaranteed money. He would have been drafted a lot higher if he kept developing but we will never know. Let’s see what staying does for Angel.

      • PadrePirate

        Not at all. He saw a window of opportunity, took it, and it worked out about as favorably as anyone could have hoped. It just seems some of his weaknesses have been exploited at the NBA level. I haven’t seen much game action overseas, so I can’t comment in detail on those weaknesses. But it looks like he’s got a lot of work to do before a long-term NBA career is in the cards.

  • LBP

    Have been writing about M. Cale for 2 years-This kid is very special. I think he is best recruit Coach has gotten–altho IW was a more important recruit.

  • shufaninva

    Man is it great to see about Eron. Seeing how his story has gone so far, with him listening to his dad on what is best for him (and knowing he has the anti-LaVar Ball kind of dad) and trusting the process….which seems to be a key phrase in sports lately, I am so happy he is getting better, and coach’s confidence in him is going north. I thought after last year that it would have been a shame to lose him, especially a guy that never seemed to make a fuss about playing time. He appears to be a true team guy. Proud to have Eron as a Pirate. Hazard Zet Forward.
    CANNOT WAIT FOR THE SEASON TO START!!

  • Louie Dee

    Any details on the scrimmage??

    I saw the short 2min video. I saw Powell playing, hopefully his foot healed.

    I’m curious on the point guard situation, the ball handing and the free throw shooting.

    • Rich Ricci

      Excellent points, Louie Dee!! We really need a true point guard but, although I give Khadeen Carrington all the credit in the world for trying to play the position out of need, he just doesn’t have the necessary skills and instincts to give this team the edge or advantage it needs night in and night out. I’m still holding out hope that someone else steps up with the necessary ball handling skills and court vision to play the point, allowing Khadeen to concentrate on being a shooting guard where his natural ability will give him the opportunity to excel!

      There’s no reason every single player on this team shouldn’t improve their foul shooting this year after having an entire off season to work on this obviously glaring and game changing deficiency!!!!