Pitino recruits eight newcomers for Gaels

Matthew Chaves, Sports Editor

Rick Pitino recruited eight new players to the Iona College Gaels on April 16, one month after being brought on.

Each and every signing was hand picked by Pitino to create the team he thinks will bring the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship back to the Hynes Athletics Center.
The eight recruits are Darreus Brown from Clarendon College, Robert Brown from New Mexico State, Tahlik Chavez from Garden City Community College, Johan Crafoord Glove Prep Christian Academy Florida, Berrick JeanLouis from Florida Southwestern State, Nelly Junior Joseph from NBA Academy Africa, Senegal, Ryan Myers from Christ the King and Osborn Shema from New Mexico Military Institute.

It’s interesting to note that this selection of players has as equal distribution of guards and forwards: four each.
Eight players at once is a lot, even for a veteran college basketball coach like Pitino.

“Our eight newcomers are almost twice as many as I’ve had in any one class during my career,” Pitino said in an interview with icgaels.com. “Because of the circumstances that evolved with the retirement of Coach Cluess, it was a necessity in order to maintain the excellence that he put forth over the last decade. I’m really looking forward to getting to work with the program as soon as our current situation allows.”

It is quite the challenge for Pitino to build a team in a time where he can’t see how they work together. Most likely, Pitino is getting to know his team over video calls, and training sessions may be going on that way as the new head coach is informing his new team how he wants them to play.

Getting a team like this within a month is a real feat for Pitino, given the situation. It’s clear he wants a team that he knows best, hence the number of signings he’s made.

The addition of what seems like a whole team on its own is similar to the new coaching staff brought in by Pitino as well. Iona knows the history of Pitino and his ability to lead teams to glory, and they’re willing to make it so he’s comfortable at his new home in New Rochelle.

Fans of the Gaels will simply have to trust in the new man in charge going into the next season as he creates the team he believes will help lead Iona back to victory in the MAAC.