The leaves are starting to turn and the calendar has flipped to September.
It's officially football season, but the start of college basketball season isn't far behind. In fact, in just a little over five weeks college teams can begin formal practices.
Now, though, is mostly an anticipatory time, one in which team fans can speculate on just how good their favored program can be in the upcoming season.
Much of that will be predicated on newcomers, either traditional recruits or transfers and, it seems, the MAAC has never had as many as it has this off-season.
Nor, have so many come aboard so late. The end of the so-called late signing period no longer means the end of the recruiting season. That many programs were still in the process of adding new players deep into this summer meant we've held off on the recruiting report until now when (hopefully) everyone is in place.
So this begins the annual recruiting reports on each conference program, both for men and women. We'll start with the top-finishing men's team from a year ago and work our way down, in order. After doing a school's men's team, we'll follow with the same school's women's report.
We'll include pertinent statistics, where available, and provide analysis gleamed not only from some first-hand observations but from a variety of other sources.
First up ...
- DeSEAN ANDERSON (6-foot-8 forward, Los Angeles Trade Technical College): The California native comes in after two seasons on the junior college level. This past season he averaged 15.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game as a high school senior and 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game as a freshman at San Bernardino Valley College. There are no stats available for his 2011-12 season at LA Trade, but he did have a 31-point single-game high. He is a slender (200-pound) forward who is described as being skilled with ability to run the floor and step out and shoot from 18 feet. He is said to be most comfortable facing the basket and going to the rim.
- CURTIS DENNIS (6-5 small forward, transfer from Toledo): He appeared in 27 games at Toledo in 2011-12, averaging 12.7 points and 3.5 rebounds. He has already played three college seasons. He was granted immediate eligibility from the NCAA due to the probation set on Toledo's program. He is a standout long-range shooter, having hit 35.0 percent of his bonus shots this past season.
- GRANT ELLIS (6-5 guard/forward, Hudson, N.J., Catholic H.S.): He is one of just two freshmen in an incoming group of nine players to the Gaels' program.. As a senior he posted seven games with 10 r more points, including a season's best of 19. He is said to be a long slasher/scorer and is an excellent athlete.
A.J. ENGLISH III (6-3 guard, St. Thomas More, Ct., Prep): A Delaware native he averaged about 18 points per game this past season at St. Thomas More. He is said to be a perimeter scoring threat. English's father, A.J. II, was an all-American at Virginia Union University and played two seasons with the Washington Bullets in the early 1990's.
DaSHAWN GOMEZ (6-2 point guard, Antelope Valley College): He played one season at New Mexico State University before moving on to Antelope Valley, a junior college for the past two seasons. Before Antelope Valley he played seven games at New Mexico State before suffering an injury and receiving a medical redshirt season. He has two years of eligibility remaining at Iona. Gomez averaged 11.3 points and 5.3 assists per game this past season.
- DAVID LAURY (6-8 forward Nia Prep): He becomes eligible after the first semester. He is said to be a highly skilled, versatile big man (250 pounds), often playing as a point forward. He began his college career at Lamar State College where he averaged 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds in the 2010-11 season.
- BRANDON PARGA (6-5 guard/forward, Citrus Junior College of Glendora, Calif.): He averaged 17.8 points per game this past season, hitting 50.3 percent of his shots and 44.8 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Said to be a standout long-range shooter.
- TAVON SLEDGE (5-9 point guard, transfer from Iowa State Univ.): Sledge, as a transfer, will sit out the 2012-13 season and become eligible in 2013-14 as a sophomore. He only saw action in eight games at Iowa State As a high school senior at Hollow Hills West H.S. in Dix Hills, N.Y., he averaged 25.3 points, 5.2 assists and 3.5 steals per game.
- NORVEL PELLE (6-11 center/forward Brewster, N.H., Prep School): Pelle, listed at some sites as 6-9 or 6-10, is an slender, athletic big man with the type skill set that rarely winds up in the MAAC. He was originally slated to attend St. John's this past season but the NCAA did not approve courses he took in summer of 2011 that he needed to gain eligibility to play in college last season. He then attended Brewster Prep this past season, but Iona is still waiting to hear if he will be eligible for the coming season.
ANALYSIS: Between graduations and defections Iona lost plenty of talent off last year's team, but is bringing in a highly regarded group. If Pelle is eligible, he gives instant credibility to the Gaels' front line, particularly after Laury becomes eligible in the second semester. Still, the talent will need to learn quickly how to play together, a process delayed by Laury's delayed eligibility. Individually, Dennis is almost certain to be an immediate starter (Pelle, too, if he is eligible). Anderson could also factor into the playing group quickly. And, Gomez is likely to get a considerable amount of time at the point.