With the news of Moller, Johnson, and Andoh committing to the Flames this past week, Liberty’s roster is all but set. There is a rumor that one of the freshmen may not qualify, but nothing concrete to this point. Coach Layer’s roster will feature 8 newcomers, 6 of which are true freshmen.
There are 3 seniors (Tomasz Gielo, Andrew Smith, James Johnson), 2 juniors (Joe Retic, David Andoh), 1 sophomore (Wesley Alcegaire), and 7 freshman (Ryan Kemrite, Evan Maxwell, Stavian Allen, Ezra Talbert, AC Reid, Braxton Bonds, and Peter Moller).
Here’s how the roster breaks down by position:
PG: Joe Retic, Braxton Bonds
SG: Ryan Kemrite, Peter Moller, AC Reid, Ethan Layer
SF: Tomasz Gielo, Ezra Talbert, Wesley Alcegaire
PF: Andrew Smith, David Andoh, Stavian Allen
C: James Johnson, Evan Maxwell
With all the talk of the team being young and inexperienced, it’s very likely there could be 3 seniors and 1 junior starting. While it’s extremely early and nearly impossible to predict, it is fun to take a gander at how the starting lineup and rotation may look.
There’s been plenty of hype surrounding incoming freshman Braxton Bonds, and rightfully so. But Joe Retic will be the starting point guard entering the Summer. Sure, Bonds could beat Retic out as the season progresses, but Joe has a year of experience (a very important year, I may add) under his belt at the most important position on the court. Retic and Bonds will split all 40 minutes at the point, how they’re divided is yet to be seen. Both guys are pass-first point guards, so it’s difficult to envision them playing alongside each other much. Of course, they may have to depending on the development of the other guards on the roster.
The off guard position definitely has the biggest questions marks as we enter the Summer. The only shooting guard on the roster with ANY playing time at Liberty is walk-on Ethan Layer. Kemrite may be the leader in the clubhouse to start based on the fact he has been around the program the past year while he was redshirting. Will Moller or Reid be good enough to force playing time? It’s too early to tell, but the opportunity is there. And don’t forget about Ethan, he will see time on the court.
Tomasz Gielo enters his 2nd season at the small forward spot, and he will be counted on to be the team’s offensive leader. Freshman Ezra Talbert looks the part of the heir to man this spot for the next 3 years following Gielo’s senior season. Alcegaire struggled to get on the floor this past season which may be the case again next year with Gielo playing over 30 minutes per game.
After starting 16 of the final 17 games (only exception was Senior night), Drew Smith has emerged as much more than an energy guy. He scored in double figures in 12 of the Flames’ final 17 games including 17 points in the Big South Tournament game against Winthrop. Expect his minutes to continue to increase to over 30 per game during his Senior season. It’s unusual for a JUCO to not come in and contribute immediately, so expect Andoh to see minutes whether it’s backing Smith up or playing alongside him. With the Andoh commitment, it leaves Stavian Allen’s role up in the air. Maybe he redshirts, then spends a year behind Andoh, before possibly taking over at the 4 his final 3 seasons.
While his production has lacked at his previous stops at Virginia and San Diego State, James Johnson will be counted on to come in and contribute for the Flames. With the departures of Antwan Burrus, Joel Vander Pol, and JR Coronado, Liberty lacked any posts on its roster. The starting spot in the middle will be Johnson’s to lose. This will allow Maxwell some time to develop. The rest of the minutes at center behind Johnson could come from a mix of Drew Smith, Andoh, and Maxwell.