EVANSVILLE, Ind. — It’s mid-May and the national college basketball coaching carousel has nearly stopped while the NCAA transfer portal is closed. This is supposed to be a quiet time of year.
Except for the University of Evansville.
Head coach Todd Lickliter and the entire staff were fired May 5 unexpectedly, leaving UE and South Carolina State as the only openings. The timing is awkward because the previous staff already signed at least four incoming players. It’s also unknown if anyone else will pursue an NCAA waiver to transfer after five others left since March.
Meanwhile, UE and the search firm TurnkeyZRG have begun interviewing candidates to take over the Purple Aces. Perhaps that announcement will come later this week. Little information about the search has leaked otherwise.
So, for now, let’s take a look at where the roster stands for the next staff.
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Of the nearly 1,700 Division I players in the NCAA transfer portal, six left the Aces.
Shamar Givance → UTEP: He announced days after Lickliter was fired that he’s committed to the University of Texas at El Paso and will spend next season in Conference USA as a graduate transfer. Givance scored 1,000 points in four years with the Aces and led them in points, assists and steals last year.
Jawaun Newton → Southern Illinois: There was some belief Newton and Givance would each join UTEP considering Newton is an El Paso native. Yet, surprisingly, Newton announced he’s transferred to UE rival Southern Illinois. He was the second-leading scorer and top rebounder last season.
Blake Sisley → Wright State: It took less than a week for Sisley to unexpectedly flip from the Aces to the Raiders, who made the NCAA tournament last season. The Heritage Hills graduate was the Aces’ only player to earn All-MVC honors, on the All-Freshman Team.
Iyen Enaruna → Fort Hays State: He spent two years at a junior college, two years at UE and is now headed to Division II. Enaruna, who’s 6-9, made five starts last November before basically falling out of the rotation by season’s end.
Troy Boynton → South Carolina: Boynton never officially suited up before he transferred in the middle of his freshman season as he was recovering from a broken wrist. Now, he’s headed to the Southeastern Conference, joining the Gamecocks as a walk-on with the possibility of earning a scholarship.
Emmette Page → TBD: He only appeared in 16 games across two seasons, scoring 30 total points despite surpassing the 1,000 mark in two years at the junior-college level.
UE also graduated fifth-year veterans Noah Frederking and Evan Kuhlman, so eight scholarship players from last season are gone. EU lost seven in 2020 and five in 2021 — eight of those 12 being transferred.
Five scholarship players remain and they all appear committed to the program’s long-term future, embracing an opportunity to be the core that turns UE around.
- Trey Hall: The 6-9 big redshirted this past year after playing 19 games as a freshman. He has four years of eligibility remaining.
- Preston Phillips: UE’s other big at 6-8 started 15 games as a freshman, averaging 2.3 points and four rebounds. I have three years left.
- Antoine Smith Jr.: While his playing time decreased during conference play, Smith Jr. started nine games and led the Aces in 3-point percentage at 44%. He’ll be a senior.
- Blaise Beauchamp: The wiry, 6-3 sharpshooter thrived down the stretch as he started nine of the final 10 games. I have made a team-best 44 3-pointers. He should have three years remaining.
- Gage Bobe: I have reportedly received a scholarship last week after spending three years as a walk-on. The 6-foot guard averaged 14 minutes off the bench in 23 appearances last season and will be a senior.
- Walk-on Grant Tichenor also remains on the roster but did not play as a freshman.
UE needs to replace five of its six top scorers from a team that went 6-24 and averaged the fifth-fewest points in Division I. Returners announced for just 33% of the overall minutes played.
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EU has announced four players who’ve signed National Letters of Intent while one other publicly committed. If everyone stays on board for the new coach, the Aces should have three open scholarships still.
In recent years, they’ve also left one open and it proved to be beneficial, such as when Nebraska transfer Samari Curtis joined the program midseason.
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Here’s a refresher on those who committed to Lickliter:
Sekou Kalle, 6-10 forward: The Akron transfer was the most recent to announce his commitment, though UE never confirmed if it received paperwork before the coaching change. It’s unknown if he’s signed an NLI. Kalle was a Kentucky All-Star in 2021 at DeSales High School. He eleven held offers from Rutgers and UCLA, but he only played 13 minutes in six appearances with the Zips, who made the NCAA tournament.
Matthew Ragsdale, 6-4 guard: He averaged 21.5 points on 45% shooting at D-II Western Colorado last season, earning second-team all-region and first-team all-conference honors. Ragsdale reportedly re-opened his recruitment after the coaching change. UE announced his signing of him the day before the staff was fired.
Christopher Moncrief, 6-6 guard: He averaged 19 points and 7.2 rebounds this past season at The Kiski School, a Pennsylvania prep school in the Pittsburgh area. His father of him wrote the following to the Courier & Press: “WE ARE STILL COMMITTED !! Christopher is still motivated to help bring a championship to UE !! I hope the new head coach and staff accept us!”
Zaveion Chism-Okoh, 6-3 guard: He spent this past season at Link Year Prep in Missouri, which is where UE forward Trey Hall attended. Chism-Okoh is originally from Mount Pleasant, Texas, where he averaged 13.6 points and 2.6 steals as a senior, earning all-state honors and leading his team to a 27-1 record.
Logan McIntire, 6-4 guard: The first member of the 2022 recruiting class committed last August and signed in November. The 6-foot-4, in-state recruit averaged 21.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.8 steals for North Harrison High School, where he won a sectional title.
Chad Lindskog is the sports editor of the Courier & Press. You can contact him by email, email@example.com, or on Twitter: @chadlindskog.