In a normal offseason, the Minnesota State men’s basketball roster would be set for next season.
But this has been anything but a normal summer, and coach Matt Margenthaler is still looking for a couple more players.
“This has been the hardest year for recruiting in our 19 years at Minnesota State,” Margenthaler said. “We have everything the athletes want, but it’s hard to show them with pictures and videos.
“One of the biggest assets for Minnesota State is the social aspect. It’s a great university and town, but you can’t show recruits that unless you can bring them to campus for visits.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with NCAA and university restrictions, potential recruits are unable to visit campus. When the season ended in March, that didn’t seem like such a big deal.
But in the last month or so, Tre Baumgardner, Corvon Seales and Frankie Mack have decided to transfer elsewhere, and high-schooler Keaton Ferris, who signed in February, has decided to enroll at a prep school in Florida, reclassifying as a senior in hopes of getting a Division I offer next season. Baumgardner, who suffered a serious knee injury in the seventh game last season, has transferred to Ashland University, closer to his home at Columbus, Ohio.
It has left a hole on the roster that Margenthaler has been trying to fill, using online means to attract players who have never been to Mankato.
“We knew everything would be late this summer, and if we don’t add anyone else, we’d be totally fine,” Margenthaler said.
The Mavericks graduated three players from last season, including Cameron Kirksey and Kevin Krieger, both top-20 scorers in program history.
But there was still plenty of talent left on the roster, led by senior Jamal Nixon, junior Kelby Kramer and freshman Ryland Holt. Freshmen Malik Willingham and Landon Wolfe both saw limited action last season, while Quincy Anderson and Noah Hart each were redshirted.
The Mavericks will have three high-school players joining the program this season: forwards Mason Muller and Brady Williams and guard Tyrell Stuttley.
Junior-college guard Zach McDermott announced two weeks ago that he was transferring to Minnesota State for his final two seasons. Junior college forward Cody Baer has transferred to Minnesota State but will redshirt next season, preserving three seasons of eligibility.
The toughest player to replace will be Seales, who started 29 games and averaged 10.2 points and 3.3 points. He had taken over the point guard spot and led the team with more than 34 minutes of playing time per game.
But the native of Eldridge, Iowa, transferred to Kirkwood Community College at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, about 40 minutse from home.
“I was surprised that he wanted to leave but not shocked,” Margenthaler said. “Corvon needed to return home and take care of business.”
Margenthaler said he hopes to add another player or two before the end of summer, preferably more shooters to build around his post players.
“If you can’t shoot, we won’t recruit,” Margenthaler said. “You have to be able to put the ball in the basket.”
But everything seems to keep getting pushed back this summer, with no one certain when they’ll be able to come to campus.
“Our philosophy is that if someone wants to transfer, we’ll move on and find someone else,” Margenthaler said. “We’ve been pretty good at that over the years.”
Shorter seasonThe NCAA Division II Management Council on Friday recommended to reduce the maximum number of games for each sport in the 2020-21 academic year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For basketball, Division II programs will be allowed 22 games, meaning Minnesota State won’t play any nonconference games next season. The Division II Presidents Council will make a final decision Tuesday.
“I totally understand with the economic issue that all universities are going to be under,” Margenthaler said. “I’m just looking forward to getting all the students back on campus in the fall and getting back to some sense of normalcy.”
Last season, the Mavericks played 28 regular-season games, with 22 conference games.
Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier.