Every year, it seems, new players join conference teams later and later. The traditional late signing period no longer marks the end of the opportunity to bring in players as was the case less than a decade ago.
Over the summer, it seemed, new players were joining men's and women's teams just about every week, or others who had previously transferred in to programs were getting NCAA waivers to play immediately, rather than have to sit out the traditional transfer year.
But with classes having begun, everyone is pretty much in place by now. So, this is the first of the series looking at players joining conference teams for the upcoming season.
Up first ...
- Cameron Fowler, a 6-foot-0, 165-pound redshirt freshman. He was a walk-on redshirt last season at Iowa State and received a waiver to be eligible to play this season. Fowler was a standout guard at U-D Jusuit H.S. in Detroit where he was a four-year starter and a three-time all-Catholic League selection. He averaged 17.2 points and 8.0 assists per game as a junior. "Cameron will get us up and down the floor and bring energy on both ends," said Niagara coach Chris Casey, in a release issued by the school. "We look for him to play both guard spots."
- Wesley Myers, a 6-1, 180-pound freshman guard: He was a pivotal member of the Brooklyn, N.Y., Boys & Girls H.S. team that won three straight PSAL Class AA titles, including the school's first-ever state title when he was a junior in the 2011-12 season. "Wesley can really score the ball from the perimeter and in transition," Casey said. "He can get to the basket and create for his teammates."
- Ramone Snowden, a 6-5, 210-pound freshman forward: He was a key piece for the Kellam H.S. team in Virginia Beach, Va., where he averaged 22 points and 15 rebounds per game as a senior this past year. "Ramone is a very skilled player in the front court who fills needs on both ends," Casey said. "He can score and rebound, as well as get teammates involved with his passing."
- Marcus Ware, 6-8, 215-pound redshirt senior: He is a transfer from new league member Monmouth, where he averaged 6.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game over 85 games there. He was redshirted his first year there, was at the school for four years and enters Niagara as an eligible grad student with one season of eligibility. "Marcus is a versatile front-court player with experience," Casey said. "He can defend different positions and can score the ball around the basket and on the perimeter.
- Dominique Reid, a 6-8, 200-pound freshman forward: He is said to be a strong ball-handler with a good outside touch. He played two seasons at Timber Creek H.S. in Erial, N.J. where he averaged 20.1 points per game. Although Niagara lists him at 6-8, other sites indicate he is an undersized 6-6 power forward. "Dominique's size, athleticism and aggressiveness fit perfectly with our style of play," Casey said. "We are excited to have him."
Emile Blackman, 6-4, 195-pound redshirt sophomore guard. He played for the LIU Post Pioneers last season, averaging 12.8 points per game. As a transfer he will have to sit out the 2013-14 season but will have three years of eligibility remaining starting in 2014-15. "Emile is a very athletic wing who can shoot the ball from the three-point line," Casey said. "He will add scoring and rebounding to our perimeter."
- Aaron Bodie, a 6-7, 195-pound freshman forward: He was a three-year starter at Newark (N.J.)'s Eastside H.S., where he averaged 12 points per game as both a junior and a senior and, then, played the 2012-13 season at the Central Jersey Each One Teach One Academy (no stats available). "Aaron's athleticism will add rebounding and defense to our frontcourt," Casey said. "He can score in transition and is a good finisher around the basket."
- Karon Davis, a 6-2, 185-pound freshman guard: He is a combo guard who played this past season at Friend's Central H.S. in Philadelphia where his team was 20-8 this past season. He averaged 19.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. "Karon will play both guard spots," said Casey. "He can score the ball in transition and the half court, and his quickness will add to our pressure defense.
- Rayvon Harris, a 6-5, 215-pound redshirt sophomore swingman: He transferred to Niagara, sitting out the 2012-13 season, after coming in from Rhode Island. In the 2011-12 season there he played 16 games with two starts as a freshman and averaged 1.5 points and 0.8 rebounds. He is an athletic player who is both a standout defender, a good rebounder for his size and a good shooter.
ANALYSIS: No men's team in the conference lost more than Niagara after former coach Joe Mihalich left for Hofstra, took two of the program's better players (Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksley) with him, followed by several others transferring, including standout freshman 6-8 T.J. Cline. But, the cupboard isn't entirely bare and nine newcomers (eight with immediate eligibility) are coming in. Head coach Chris Casey did an exemplary job finding players in the aftermath of all the early defections, some of them unexpected. We've seen Harris practice, and he's almost certainly going to be in the playing group, probably even in the starting lineup. The Purple Eagles also need a dose of inside help, and Monmouth transfer Ware also appears to be a strong candidate to help out right away. Reid, even if he is only 6-6, should provide some much-needed rebounding help, too. It most definitely appears that there is quality coming in, along with some experience. Things look a lot better at Niagara right now than a few weeks after Casey took over and only had five players on the roster.