Taurean Thompson enrolls at Seton Hall, aiding the Pirates’ future

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Seton Hall has officially picked up 6-10 Syracuse big man Taurean Thompson, just days after it was announced that he would be taking a leave of absence from the ACC school.

Well, this second tango between Seton Hall’s coaching staff and talented center Taurean Thompson was a lot shorter and less complicated than the first — at least on the surface.

A former recruit out of high school who was torn between the two schools when he made his decision a little over a year ago, Thompson has opted to become a Seton Hall Pirate this time around; it remains to be seen what Syracuse’s stance will be on releasing the player.

As expected, the offensive talent must sit out the coming season before acting as a massive supplement to replace the outgoing senior class which includes forwards Angel Delgado and Ish Sanogo.

While the appetizing possibility of becoming eligible this season hasn’t materialized — and I would argue it’s more beneficial Thompson sit out — a local product who can make an immediate splash will now play an integral role of a rebuilding process that tips off next summer.

Three years of eligibility await Thompson (9.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg), who will surely slot in at the ‘5’ for Delgado a year from now. He will join up with a seasoned Mike Nzei, a likely owner of the power forward spot while face-up forward Sandro Mamukelashvili, lanky center Romaro Gill, and bruiser Darnell Brodie — who will prep at Montverde Academy this year — will join any additional recruits off Kevin Willard’s bench.

In the frontcourt, that isn’t such a depressing future to paint, especially if Mamukelashvili lives up to some of the quiet hype resonating from South Orange.

Thompson will link up with combo guard and sit-out transfer Quincy McKnight (18.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3 apg) as two guys with a proven track record that will anchor the post-2014 recruiting class transition; McKnight can be thought of as a direct replacement for Khadeen Carrington.

Three open scholarships remain available, assuming Brodie is still on board, giving the staff even more room to work with.

A teammate of Mamukelashvili’s at Montverde last season (although he will play on a different team than Brodie this year), top-50 point guard Andrew Nembhard has emerged on the staff’s radar, while 6-4 lefty Anthony Nelson is thought to still be in the mix.

The staff is surely after a wing to replace Desi Rodriguez, with five-star Louis King listing the Hall, late-blooming Khalid Moore trying to visit, and Jared Rhoden visiting on Thursday alongside power forward Jake Forrester, who began an official in South Orange.

Besides Forrester, local products Valdir Manuel (Patrick School) and Majur Majak (Roselle Catholic) are believed to be top choices for the staff up front.

Between McKnight and Thompson, Seton Hall has proven talent to aide next year’s transition, while it looks like the staff has their ducks in a row with younger prospects from point guard Jordan Walker to Sandro Mamukelashvili to several additional 2018 recruiting options.

  • Rich Ricci

    I agree that we’re better off getting Taurean Thompson for the 2018 – 19 season rather than this year, Chris. If he played this season, he’d most likely only get limited minutes behind Angel Delgado and Ish Sanogo, which would essentially be a wasted year for him.

    However, if he was a Freshman with four full years of eligibility, I wouldn’t mind having him available this season to serve his “apprenticeship” playing behind more experienced players but, since he only has three years left, I’d much rather have him use his remaining eligibility as a “full time” player. Besides, having him available at practice this season will serve him well, in addition to giving Delgado and Sanogo another big body to bang against every day.

    • TheRealDewski

      Not sure if you saw any Syracuse games. If TT is on your roster and available he is going to play. If he was here as a freshman it would not be an apprenticeship as that was not the case up North. It has been said that he needs to get better at defense. I watched some Syracuse games and he was well ahead of the average freshman on offense in my opinion. He is a smooth scorer and has a lot of length.

      As far as recent good transfers how about Madison Jones. I watched every game and he did a great job in my opinion.

      Back to TT transfer wise what I have seen over the last 2 years is that he is not your typical kid. There is no indication that he is anything but a good person that decided to make a change in his life that happened to be news worthy because of his talent. He is said to have no social media and to be a free spirit. Maybe he did not catch up with his team over the summer because he was doing his own thing. Clearly the guy is not a follower and is close to his mom which to me is no indication of a problem and actually could be seen as an asset. Lastly, Chris thanks for the update, again a job well done.

      • hallstorm

        I watched a handful of Syracuse games and watched Thompson’s game. Yes, his defense was suspect, but I think a few things need to be noted about Syracuse:

        1) They only had about 6-7 players REALLY playing for most of the season once Coleman went down with an injury. Thompson played a lot more than he probably should have–he was 5th on the team in minutes played–and was thrust into a starting job that he really shouldn’t have assumed.

        2). Last year was his freshman year. Compare his year to Powell and you have similar years. Powell played a little better defensively, but his responsibilities were very different than TT’s. (Oh, and most of us think Powell will be a star)

        3). Zone defenses are always skeptical. You can be covered by other players a little more easily, but not in the center position. If you look at their 3-point defense, they were 138th in the nation. Not horrid, but not very good. Also, I saw them give up wide open 3’s a lot in the games I watched. Syracuse’s zone–like Cheney at Temple before Boeheim–is a very active zone. It also leaves a lot of open floor space because of the constant double teaming.

        4). Williard’s defense offers a lot of help defense. I think you’ll see a better Thompson playing a defense similar to his junior year at St. Anthony

        • TheRealDewski

          Good analysis that makes TT seem even more valuable.

      • Rich Ricci

        I can’t say I watched Syracuse extensively last year, but I did see enough of them to notice that Taurean Thompson didn’t get a whole lot of playing time with a team that was pretty thin up front and, much of what he did get, was out of necessity due to an injury to a starter. At best, I’m pretty sure he’d get similar minutes with The Hall this year if he was eligible because I just don’t see him taking significant time from two Seniors who are basically the foundation of the team, which would basically make it wasted year for him. In addition, with chemistry being such a fragile balance, especially with this team, there’s no way Kevin Willard would risk jeopardizing that by giving extensive time to a young transfer at the expense of two of the team’s leaders.

        All in all, I still feel we’re better off having Thompson sit out this season so we can have him playing major minutes for his remaining three years while learning from Angel Delgado and Ish Sanogo in practice, which will also give those two big men a challenging match-up to sharpen their own skills.

      • Rich Ricci

        I can’t say I watched Syracuse extensively last year, but I did see enough of them to notice that Taurean Thompson didn’t get a whole lot of playing time with a team that was pretty thin up front and, much of what he did get, was out of necessity due to an injury to a starter. At best, I’m pretty sure he’d get similar minutes with The Hall this year if he was eligible because I just don’t see him taking significant time from two Seniors who are basically the foundation of the team, which would basically make it a wasted year for him. In addition, with chemistry being such a fragile balance, especially with this team, there’s no way Kevin Willard would risk jeopardizing that by giving extensive time to a young transfer at the expense of two of the team’s leaders.

        All in all, I still feel we’re better off having Thompson sit out this season so we can have him playing major minutes for his remaining three years while learning from Angel Delgado and Ish Sanogo in practice, which will also give those two big men a challenging match-up to sharpen their own skills.

      • Thank you. I agree with you regarding the hypothetical depth chart if TT were eligible. He would certainly steal minutes from Ish and Nzei, likely leapfrogging them.

        It sounds good on paper, but the obvious question is how it would affect chemistry on and off the court — think of it: a kid who could have joined up with you and your close-knit teammates a year ago, decided not to and then joined up a year later and leap frogs you (or your close teammate) in the depth chart? Not impossible to manage, but yeah… That’s my major reservation about that scenario

    • ThePirateFan

      I mean, if there was the option to play him or redshirt him you’d play him this year without a doubt. What would you be saving him for, exactly? We know this year’s team can dance, and with TT they would certainly be better positioned to advance farther.

      • Rich Ricci

        No, I’d definitely redshirt Taurean Thompson since he only has three years of eligibility left and I wouldn’t “waste” one of them by giving him only back-up minutes. He only played something like twelve or fourteen minutes per game for Syracuse last year, which didn’t have the talent The Hall has up front and, since Angel Delgado and Ish Sanogo will each get a minimum of thirty to thirty-two minutes per game plus whatever an improved Michael Nzei will have earned, there just won’t be enough time for Thompson. I’d agree with you if Thompson was a Freshman and had his full four years of eligibility left but, with only three years left, I can’t justify losing one of them as a back-up this season when he’d be more of a luxury than a necessity.

        To answer your question, I’d be saving him for the 2018 – 19, 2019 – 2020 and 2020 – 2021 seasons when we’ll need a front court player with Thompson’s talent and the minutes he deserves will be available for him.

      • Rich Ricci

        No, I’d definitely redshirt Taurean Thompson since he only has three years of eligibility left and I wouldn’t “waste” one of them by giving him only back-up minutes. He only played something like twelve or fourteen minutes per game for Syracuse last year, which didn’t have the talent The Hall has up front and, since Angel Delgado and Ish Sanogo will each get a minimum of thirty to thirty-two minutes per game plus whatever an improved Michael Nzei will have earned, there just won’t be enough time for Thompson. I’d agree with you if Thompson was a Freshman and had his full four years of eligibility left but, with only three years left, I can’t justify losing one of them as a back-up this season when he’d be more of a luxury than a necessity.

        To answer your question, I’d be saving him for the 2018 – 2019, 2019 – 2020 and 2020 – 2021 seasons when we’ll need a front court player with Thompson’s talent and the minutes he deserves will be available for him.

        • Thehall

          I know he won’t play this year. But if he did. He would help this team immensely especially when the team goes through its scoring droughts. I would guess he would be our second or third leading scorer. Many thought he would be a one and done; or do two years of college ball. Just ended up in “Mr personality” Boeheim’s dog house.

  • Matty P

    I think a year off for Thompson might better serve him and the team. If he was available this year he would most likely get limited minutes. Delgado is going to play 30+ mins per game, Sanogo is a glue guy who often takes the responsibility of defending the other teams best offensive player, and Nzei will most likely be the first big off the bench because of his ability to play either forward spot and the energy that he brings to the floor with hustle plays. So after coming from a Syracuse program where he would likely be a starter and getting major minutes, I think he could potentially get frustrated and cause some disruption on the team.

    • LBP

      Matty P –
      I believe Willard has matured and will “handle” TT–I also think The 2018 Team will be better with TT and I know he helps with the current recruiting–so far ,a Win -win

      • SHU95

        Well said…

    • If TT were eligible, he’d definitely eat into Nzei’s minutes. Nzei is there to bring the offense that Ish doesn’t — and if TT is primarily and offensive guy — he would probably take on Nzei’s role and then steal some of Ish’s minutes if he performed well.

      Fun to speculate about, but wasted breath.

      • Matty P

        Agreed, it would certainly be something interesting to speculate about, but I can’t see a way where Thompson becomes available for this season. Just seems like all the rules to allow a player to become immediately available have disappeared in recent years.

  • Peter

    Am I the only person who is not sold on TT? All transfers come with red flags, but TT’s red flags are, in my opinion, significant. He had a very bizarre recruiting experience last year, he is now leaving Syracuse under questionable circumstances, and he just stopped talking to his teammates…that is really strange. I am hoping for the best, but I would not be shocked if this situation ended badly for both parties. He does not strike me as a Keon Lawrence or Jevon Thomas type, but he does not seem seem overly committed to anything either. I have to go all the way back to Andre Sweet to remember a transfer who was a solid contributor AND a good citizen (the 2nd part rules out both Herb Pope and Robert Mitchell). Just my honest thoughts and opinion.

    • VinBick

      As a “glass is half full” person, there is optomism about this arrival. He will be coached by some strong people at the Hall who have displayed thier ability to pull a group of young men together well. The year he has to blend in with high -performing guys who appear to be a close knit group will help overcome his reported lack of defensive skills that may need improvement. What went on in the bitter cold of Upstate New York is history. He gets a fresh start in posh South Orange.

    • Matty P

      I agree there are definitely some red flags which are concerning. I’m hopeful that a year off will help. In that year he will hopefully get some guidance from the Senior class and coaching staff.

      Regarding a transfer being solid contributor and good citizen you could say Derrick Gordon is the most recent. He certainly came in and contributed in his one season and helped pull the team together while not causing any off court disturbances. If you’re looking at a multiple year guy I think you could put Eugene Teague in there since I don’t recall any issues of him not being a good citizen and he certainly gave the team solid performances during his time.

      • Peter

        Gene Teague had discipline issues at Southern Illinois before his transfer to SHU, but I will agree with you 100% about Derrick Gordon (he actually transferred twice: Western Kentucky, UMass & SHU). Model citizen and GREAT contributor. Successful transfers are still few and far between. I hope TT is great at SHU, but again, I am nervous.

      • ThePirateFan

        Gibbs was a transfer, too. His last season in South Orange was erratic, but crazy talented and I personally don’t know what the beef was that season. If he had beef with IW being handed the reigns then I can’t blame him. IW did not play well that year on the whole and Gibbs was a POY candidate.

        • Matty P

          Agreed, you could put Gibbs in that group of transfers who brought a lot to the team. Regarding the good citizen part I don’t know how much was him or if he just got caught up in a battle between the upperclassmen and freshman. As long as the team was winning everything seemed okay, but once the losing streak started all of the issues started to show.

    • RonD

      Add Madison Jones as a contributor and solid citizen transfer. We don’t win 21 gam s last year without him. Let’s not compare these guys to the BG transfers.

      • This. And how about Derrick Gordon? 6th man on a NCAA + Big East title team.

    • hallstorm

      Well, there is some reservation about TT, as expected. The only thing I’ll say regarding his specific scenario is that his family has always wanted him to attend SHU (his mom in particular). He was lobbying back and forth between us and Syracuse and I think it’s a plus that he was (as opposed to other players who may have never considered us in high school). He is familiar with the SHU family and the fact that Syracuse isn’t even on our schedule is also a plus. The truth is, you never really know what’s going on in a player’s head. Sterling Gibbs came over from an unproductive Texas first year and became a second team all-conference player. He then left for UConn with the whole Sina and ’14 class debacle.

      I say let’s see how this all plays out with his current teammates, familiar location and (most likely) friends close by.

      I do remember Jeff Robinson and his productivity when he came over from Memphis, although he shot a little much.

    • HallBall10

      Madison jones and dgordon… both seemed to have played a pivotal role in getting us to the tournament and represented seton hall well.

  • SHU95

    Better late than Never… Would have been interesting to see what last years team (& this years) would have looked like had he picked SHU the first time around… But glad to have him on board for 2018 to help keep the momentum going for SHU with next seasons departure of our much loved 2014 class. Overall, i am pleased with quality of athlete & people that we are attracting to the program. I would also like add that I hope that Brodie and the staff mutually decide to re-enroll him for 2018. Brodie seems committed & his playing time at one of the top Prep programs in the country should only help… U can never have enough front court depth & size. I think he will develop into a very useful player.

    • Marklemore84

      This years version may happen.

  • PadrePirate

    Excuse my ignorance, but do red-shirt transfers get to practice and travel with the team during their sit-out year, or is he totally excluded from bball activities? I ask, because I like the though of TT banging with Ish and Angel this year in practice. It might help to mature him, if that is really an issue.

    • Matty P

      He would be allowed to practice with the team. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe transfers are excluded from traveling with the team for away games.

      • I believe you’re correct on the travel part. I did a few quick Googles but couldn’t find anything.

  • Marklemore84

    Love the recap Chris. Walker Powell Cale mamu Thompson with McKnight as sixth man is legit for the future. Hope king gets added to that.

    • Thank you! I’d add that McKnight is a starter next season for sure. He played for a bad team, sure, but had some impressive stats in 2016-17.

      Cale would probably be the 6th man

      • HallBall10

        Thanks for the recap…I like that you are high on McKnight but I disagree on him for sure starting…I think many are undervaluing Myles Cales ability. I think he’s gonna be a great Pirate!

        84 let’s not forget Nzei for next year as well.

  • shufaninva

    My brother in law is a Cuse alum and fan, and he thinks he is a huge talent, with inside outside skills. He is wondering if as the sit out year goes on, if TT won’t start to think about entering the draft or playing overseas. I hope we get to see him in a Pirate uniform though.

    • Joe Schmoe

      He’ll have no draft stock sitting out a year…. its a weird situation. IIRC, wasnt SHU the “family choice” and it was TT that was enamored with ‘cuse?

      • Dan

        Joe,
        I thought it was the opposite. He wanted us, but Mom wanted Cuse. I have no inside info, I am just remembering what I thought I read at the time. You are probably right, but I hope it is what I remember. In that scenario, he is finally getting what he wants.

  • PadrePirate

    Imagine that for some crazy reason Mr. Trevon “3 weeks to put together my 30 sec announcement cartoon” Duval just happened to come back next year, wanting to transfer to SHU (has a rough year, not enough playing time, misses mom, etc.), I would be strongly inclined to keep the door tightly shut, even though we need a 2018-19 PG. Fine for TT but not TD…

    • HallBall10

      Duval is a lottery pick.. so yeah playing time won’t be a problem and he’ll be going to the NBA.

  • RonD

    Surprised no one posted that SHU officially announced TT’s transfer. Practice with team this year, suit up for ’18-’19. Future officially looking very bright.

    • Matty P

      It’s nice to hear that everything is official. He should be able to help the team in practice since he’ll provide a talented scorer that they’ll have to work on defending. Should also help him get accustomed to any offensive or defensive sets and some of the players for next season.

      Was also interesting to see that Thompson talked with Forrester while he was on his visit to the school. Sounded like they got along and that it was discussed of having Forrester play the 4 while Thompson plays the 5. That would certainly be a nice combination down low.

  • Matty P

    SHU added another member to the Naismith Hall of Fame today. Congrats to Nick Galis. Here’s an article written up about him from the Seton Hall website: http://shupirates.com/news/2017/9/6/mens-basketball-five-things-to-know-about-hall-of-famer-nick-galis.aspx

  • PadrePirate

    Surprised Forrester’s visit came and went without any comment on this board. Does anyone know how it went? Matty P (below) says that JF met TT and the two seemed to hit it off. Otherwise, I haven’t heard a thing. I would guess that being first in this string of visits is probably not a good thing. Not to be a pooper, but 24/7 has him 100% going to VT.

    • Matty P

      The two articles that I read both mentioned that he enjoyed his time on the campus and with the team. The first article which I had referenced in my below comment was from Zags. The second article was one that Chris posted on his twitter feed (http://247sports.com/Article/Finding-Forrester-Jake-Forrester-Breaks-Down-His-5-Finalists-Ind-107095972). It also breaks down his thoughts on the other 5 schools.

      • PadrePirate

        Thanks. I’d love to read the second one but I get some error message when I click on it.

        • Matty P

          Sorry about that, that’s what I get for not checking my links after I post things. I updated the link and it should work now. If it doesn’t you can check on the right side of the page and it should have Chris’s tweet with the link.

          • PadrePirate

            Got it. From the highlight videos, looks like an athletic, offensive, face-up type 4 man, which we haven’t had for a while. Didn’t see much outside range (cp. Auda, Mobley) or defense in the videos. Sounds like his top 5 could go in any direction. Most coaches are promising him to start right away as a freshman. Seems really excited about playing in ACC (VT)…

  • PadrePirate

    Likely too late for TT, but Bilas’ view seems spot on to me, that NCAA transfers should be able to play immediately. I’d love to hear the “other side” of this debate.

    http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/20616506/change-transfer-rule-let-athletes-play-immediately-not-sit-year

  • SHU95

    Jake Forester to Indiana…. Though we have had some recent success, a good season upcoming undoubtably, a seemingly solid 2017 class as well as a top transfer for next season, we are Not getting the 2018 targets for some reason. I am stunned that a guy like Forester is headed elsewhere (even if it is Indiana). We wish him well and look to get on the board in 2018 … Just not sure who is left?!? (I haven’t felt like King is realistic for some time now) hopefully there are some new quality names on the horizon that can keep the momentum going…

    • Matty P

      Disappointing to see that we missed out on another top recruit. Was really hoping that our continued momentum the past couple years would’ve helped us land a couple guys.