MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – No standing still, no bemoaning personnel losses.
Central Michigan men’s basketball coach Keno Davis and his staff certainly can look back to the end of the 2017-18 season, when the Chippewas surged to five wins in their last seven starts to close a 21-15 campaign, as a stepping-off point or a launching pad, if you will.
As the Chippewas look ahead to ’18-19, there will be several new faces in the mix as Davis retools, adding complimentary pieces that will join three key returnees: Shawn Roundtree, David DiLeo and Kevin McKay.
There are several among the six newcomers who appear quite capable of making an immediate impact. The Chippewas' 21 wins last season was the second-most for the program since 2002-03, and the Chippewas won two games in the 2018 CIT, marking the first time in program history that CMU has won two post-season tournament true road games.
“The 2018-19 team will be one of the most talented teams CMU has had,” Davis said. “This team has a chance to have success each and every night we step on the court. I’m looking forward to the summer workouts as we look to develop this high level of individual players into a great team.”
A look at each of the six newcomers:
• Larry Austin Jr.: A graduate transfer from Vanderbilt with one season of eligibility, Austin was rated a three-star prospect by ESPN.com, Scout.com and Rivals.com coming out of Lanphier High School in Springfield, Ill. A 6-foot-2 guard, Austin was rated as the No. 108 overall prospect in the nation by 247sports.com as a high school senior.
• Romelo Burrell: The 6-7 Burrell brings a strong presence as a wing and, according to Davis, possesses the “ability to impact the game in all phases: offensively, defensively and rebounding.” Burrell, who is a sophomore, spent last season at John A. Logan College in Carterville, Ill., where he made 61.5 percent of his field goal attempts while averaging 10 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He helped lead the Volunteers to a 22-6 record and a No. 22 national junior-college ranking. Burrell led Chicago Morgan Park High School to the Illinois Class 3A state championship in 2017.
• Kevin Hamlet: Hamlet, a 6-7 forward from Scarborough, Ont., is a transfer from Mineral Area (Mo.) College, the same school that Roundtree attended. Hamlet averaged 8.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in helping the Cardinals to a 23-9 finish.
• PJ Mitchell: Mitchell, 6-1, is a true point guard who led Detroit Edison to the Detroit Public School League and the Class C state title in March, marking the third-consecutive season he led his high school team to at least the state semifinals. He was named the Associated Press Class C Player of the Year after averaging 17 points per game.
• Rob Montgomery: Montgomery, who is listed at 6-6 and 225 pounds and hails from Montgomery, Md., was a starter a year ago at Indian Hills (Iowa) CC, the No. 1-ranked junior college team in the nation. He spent the 2016-17 season as a part-time starter at St. Francis (N.Y.).
• Dallas Morgan: A 6-1 guard from Peoria, Ill., Morgan is the latest in a line of student-athletes who has made his way to Mount Pleasant from Moberly Area (Mo.) Community College. MACC produced two of the very best players (Rayshawn Simmons and Cecil Williams) to have played at CMU during Davis’ six-year tenure. Morgan, who is a junior, averaged 10-plus points per game in 2017-18 as the Greyhounds finished 11th in the final National Junior College Athletic Association poll. He made 40 percent of his 3-point attempts while playing at MACC.