NJ transfer tracker: 5th Saint Peter's player, former prized Seton Hall frosh relocate

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The exodus from Saint Peter's basketball program continues.

Freshman forward Clarence Rupert, who came on strong at the end of the Peacocks' historic push to the NCAA Tournament's Eight became the program's sixth rotation player to relocate when he transferred to Southern Illinois May 19.

Saint Peter's best player, senior forward KC Ndefo, remains in the transfer portal.

Seton Hall guard Brandon Weston, a onetime four-star recruit, is transferring to Rhode Island, where he will reunite with former Pirate assistant Duane Woodward. Weston hardly played as a freshman due to a knee injury.

Saint Peter's (from left) Hassan Drame, Fousseyni Drame and Oumar Diahame leave the court after the Peacocks' 67-64 win against Purdue to advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, March 25, 2022. Twins Hassan and Fousseyni Drame have transferred to La Salle.
Saint Peter's (from left) Hassan Drame, Fousseyni Drame and Oumar Diahame leave the court after the Peacocks' 67-64 win against Purdue to advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, March 25, 2022. Twins Hassan and Fousseyni Drame have transferred to La Salle.

Weston enters portal as turnover hits Hall

It’s the kind of transfer news Seton Hall basketball fans did not want to hear: Brandon Weston, a former four-star recruit who made just one cameo for the Pirates as a freshman, has entered the transfer portal.

The 6-foot-5 guard is the most prominent of five Pirates to hit the portal as the May 1 free-transfer deadline approached. He was joined by two fellow freshman — forward Tyler Powell and guard Ryan Conway (who has since relocated to Towson). That means the Hall’s entire 2021 recruiting class out of high school is relocating.

Sophomore guard Jahari Long and reserve center Jo Smith also are transferring.

It’s a lot of turnover. It’s also the kind of thing that happens during a coaching transition, a trend that is accelerated in this new era when transfers can play right away elsewhere.

Feb 23, 2022; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Seton Hall Pirates guard Brandon Weston (center) talks with teammates against the Butler Bulldogs at Prudential Center.
Feb 23, 2022; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Seton Hall Pirates guard Brandon Weston (center) talks with teammates against the Butler Bulldogs at Prudential Center.

Each individual transfer case is different, but the broad picture is this: Shaheen Holloway took the reins a month ago, assessed what he inherited from former coach Kevin Willard, and leveled with everyone about their prospects for playing time next season, how he envisioned their roles.

He spoke with the upperclassmen with an extra year of eligibility — Jamir Harris, Jared Rhoden, Alexis Yetna and Ike Obiagu — about staying on. Harris took him up on it; the others already had made up their minds to enter the pro ranks. With the younger/less experienced players, Holloway made it clear he would be bringing in transfers and his own recruits, whom he envisioned being ahead in the playing-time pecking order. He also is taking two of Willard’s recruits, incoming freshmen guards Jaquan Sanders and JaQuan Harris.

Weston’s departure will draw the most attention because he came in as a four-star recruit with a consensus top-100 ranking. But the 6-foot-5 guard suffered a knee injury as a high school senior, one that still lingered through the end of this past season, and he never got untracked.

Holloway’s first recruiting commitments are rolling in now. Brothers Dre and Tae Davis, the former a Louisville guard transfer and the latter a high school senior wing, climbed aboard first. Then came Clemson transfer guard Al-Amir Dawes and Pitt transfer guard Femi Odukale.

It's been 12 years since Seton Hall hired a new coach. Turnover always has been a part of regime change in college sports, and for all the criticisms of the free-transfer policy, it opens doors for players caught in the coaching-change churn find a better fit. That’s what is happening at the Hall now.

Saint Peter's forward KC Ndefo (left) speaks with Shaheen Holloway
Saint Peter's forward KC Ndefo (left) speaks with Shaheen Holloway

Saint Peter's star Ndefo enters portal

One month after the Saint Peter's basketball team's Cinderella joyride to the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight, the carriage is breaking into parts.

Hours after starting point guard Matt Lee announced he was transferring to Missouri State Tuesday, ace forward KC Ndefo entered the NCAA's transfer portal.

Ndefo could wind up being the first and only Peacock to reunite with former coach Holloway at Seton Hall. The 6-foot-7 senior, who has one year of eligibility left, was among the nation's best shot-blockers the past two seasons. This past winter he averaged 10.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.8 blocks in 25 minutes per game. He shot 47 percent from the field and provided consistently stifling defense around the rim.

During his transition from Saint Peter's to Seton Hall, Holloway made it clear privately and publicly he did not want to raid his old roster for a bunch of players. But with the program's three top guards already transferred elsewhere and three other rotation players in the portal and looking at other schools, Ndefo seems poised to leave one way or another. He's graduating this spring and already is exploring the NBA Draft process — he could opt to turn pro and command money overseas or possibly latch on with a G League team looking for an athletic, versatile defender and willing passer.

Seton Hall desperately needs frontcourt help and in particular some toughness up front. If he lands in South Orange, Ndefo would instantly become the team's best defender and its second-best passer, after Kadary Richmond.

It will be interesting to see how much loyalty plays a role in Ndefo's decision. Unlike last year, when he entered the portal and found no high-major takers, only to have Holloway accept him back right as the school year started, competition for him should be fierce this time around.

As the free-agency portion of the college hoops basketball calendar rolls on, Saint Peter's appears poised for a significant makeover under new coach Bashir Mason.

Saint Peter's Fousseyni Drame (10) and Matthew Lee try to get on track in a timeout in the first half of the Peacocks' Elite Eight appearance against UNC in the NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Sunday, March 27, 2022.
Saint Peter's Fousseyni Drame (10) and Matthew Lee try to get on track in a timeout in the first half of the Peacocks' Elite Eight appearance against UNC in the NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Sunday, March 27, 2022.

Ndefo is the seventh member of Saint Peter's 10-man rotation to enter the portal. They Peacocks are far from the lone team impacted. By the time the dust settles, some 2,000 college basketball players are expected to enter the NCAA’s Transfer Portal, after more than 1,700 did it a year ago.

More: Jersey City rallies with pride in celebration of Saint Peter's March Madness run

The increased mobility is having an impact on programs and leagues from coast-to-coast, including New Jersey. Here are some of the top college players in the state who have transferred, are currently in the transfer portal or are coming into Jersey programs from elsewhere via the portal:

Mar 19, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; St. Peter's Peacocks guard Daryl Banks III (5) and guard Doug Edert (25) celebrate a play in the second half against the Murray State Racers during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; St. Peter's Peacocks guard Daryl Banks III (5) and guard Doug Edert (25) celebrate a play in the second half against the Murray State Racers during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

New destination

Nikkei Rutty, Monmouth to Prairie View A&M: The 6-8 forward, with one year of eligibility remaining, is a warrior in the paint, averaging 7.4 rebounds, grabbing a career-best 19 rebounds in a win over Siena. Rutty had 10 rebounds at St. John’s in December.

Clarence Rupert, Saint Peter's to Southern Illinois: The 6-8, 245-pound freshman forward from Philadelphia averaged 4.4 points and 2.6 boards. He tallied 11 points and 4 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 win over Purdue.

Brandon Weston, Seton Hall to Rhode Island: Sidelined by knee and ankle injuries, the 6-5 guard/wing and former four-star recruit from New York City made just one brief cameo as a freshman this past season. With a redshirt, he'll have four years of eligibility left.

Tyler Powell, Seton Hall to Nevada: The 6-5 wing from California appeared in 12 games in mop-up duty last season. He was a three-star prospect with a consensus ranking of 136 coming out of high school. He has three years of eligibility left.

Hassan Drame, Saint Peter's to La Salle: The 6-foot-7 junior forward from Mali (twins with Fousseyni) averaged 6.0 points and 5.3 boards in 21 minutes per game. He shot 50 percent from the field. Like his brother, he's an excellent student.

Fousseyni Drame, Saint Peter's to La Salle: The 6-foot-7 junior forward from Mali (twins with Hassan) averaged 7.0 points and 6.4 boards in 22 minutes per game. He shot 55 percent from the field. Like his brother, he's an excellent student.

Jaelin Llewellyn, Princeton to Michigan: The 6-2 guard, with one year of eligibility remaining, had to move on with the Tigers not allowing graduate players. He committed to Clemson and then de-committed before joining the Wolverines. Llewellyn averaged 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists for Princeton this past season. With an ability to shoot the 3-pointer and beat defenders off the dribble, he'll be an impact player on the high-major level.

Devon Dunn, Fairleigh Dickinson to Campbell: The 6-1 junior guard averaged 9.8 points and 2.0 assists while shooting 35 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free-throw line. He opted out of the 2020-21 season.

Brandon Rush, Fairleigh Dickinson to Youngstown State: The 6-3 junior guard was FDU's best player, averaging 14.2 points and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 83 percent from the free-throw line. He scored 36 in a late-season upset of Wagner.

Matthew Lee, from Saint Peter’s to Missouri State: The 6-0 point guard ran the show for the Peacocks, averaging 6.8 points and 2.9 assists. He was a dogged defender on the ball and was exceptionally savvy in the postseason. Lee has two years of eligibility remaining.

Daryl Banks, from Saint Peter’s to St. Bonaventure: The 6-3 guard via the Patrick School, with two years of eligibility remaining, averaged for 11.3 points for the Peacocks, including a 27-point outburst against Kentucky. He scored 14 points in their Sweet 16 upset of Purdue, and was one of their top defenders.

Ryan Conway, from Seton Hall to Towson: The 6-1 guard, who is eligible for a redshirt after not playing at all this past season, was a onetime three-star recruit who picked the Hall over Rutgers, Marquette, Providence, Vanderbilt and Stanford. The Maryland native is returning to his old neighborhood.

Drew Friberg, from Princeton to Belmont: The 6-7 forward, with one year of eligibility remaining, averaged 9.3 points and 3.6 rebounds as the Tigers won the Ivy League regular season title, and played in the NIT. He scored 17 points in a win at Oregon State in November.

Ethan Wright, from Princeton to Colorado: The 6-4 sharpshooter, with one year of eligibility left, averaged 14.7 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Tigers. Shot 50 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from 3-point range. He connected on seven three-pointers in a game twice this past season. Was a primary target transfer-portal for Rutgers.

Doug Edert, from Saint Peter’s to Bryant: The 6-2 Bergen Catholic product, with two years of eligibility left, hit some huge shots during the Peacock’s magical March Madness run, producing three straight double-digit scoring games, including a 20-point performance against Kentucky.

Dylan O'Hearn, from NJIT to Jacksonville: The 6-4 guard, who has one year of eligibility left, averaged 11.8 points and 3.2 boards this past season. He shot 37.2 percent from 3-point range.

In the portal

Jo Smith, Seton Hall: The 6-10 center played briefly in 10 games after coming to South Orange as a junior college transfer. He has three years of eligibility remaining.

Jahari Long, Seton Hall: The 6-5 combo guard from Texas saw spot duty as a freshman before suffering a knee injury last summer. He played in five games this past season before shutting it down. With a redshirt, he should have four years left.

KC Ndefo, Saint Peter's: Rhe Peacocks' star forward averaged 10.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.8 blocks in 25 minutes per game. He shot 47 percent from the field and provided consistently stifling defense around the rim. He could help just about any team in the country. He also declared for the NBA Draft.

Samuel Chaput, Monmouth: The 6-1 point guard with one year of eligibility left, played in 113 games for the Hawks, making 40 starts. He’s averaging 3.8 points for his career, with 255 assists.

James Lee, NJIT:  The 6-3 junior guard averaged 7.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 19 games. He shot 48 percent from the field.

Jeremiah Pope, Rider: The 6-4 senior guard averaged 3.1 points in 11.7 minutes and shot 31 percent from deep.

Arrivals

Femi Odukale Seton Hall: The 6-foot-5 guard from Pitt, a Brooklyn native, averaged 10.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 32 minutes per game as a sophomore. He has three years of eligibility left.

Al-Amir Dawes, Seton Hall: The 6-foot-2 guard from Clemson, a Newark native, 11.3 points and 2.3 assists in 29 minutes per game this past season. He shot  39 percent from 3-point range in each of the past two seasons. Two years of eligibility left.

Dre Davis, Seton Hall: The 6-foot-5 guard from Louisville, who has three years of eligibility left, averaged 7.4 points and 3.0 rebounds last season. His younger brother Tae, a high school senior, committed to the Hall as well.

Kyle Cardaci, Saint Peter's: The guard from Coppin State, a Holmdel native, has two years of eligibility remaining. averaged 7.9 points and 2.5 assists last season. He's made 118 3-pointers over the past two seasons.

Jayden Saddler, Saint Peter's: The guard from Southern averaged 11.1 points, 3.1 boards and 4.2 assists as a senior last season. He was a 2nd-team All-SWAC honoree.

Cam Spencer, Rutgers: The 6-4 guard from Loyola (Md.) has two years of eligibility left. He averaged 18.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a junior this past season. He's shooting .388 from the arc and .851 from the free-throw line as a colliegian.

Cam Young, Saint Peter's: The wing from Bowling Green, who hails from, Swedesboro averaged 3.2 points and 2.8 rebounds last season. He has three years remaining.

Allen Betrand, Rider: The 6-5 guard averaged 4.7 points as a junior at Rhode Island after averaging 13.6 points in 2019-20. A Philadelphia native, he has two years of eligibility left.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NJ transfer tracker: Seton Hall's Brandon Weston relocates