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