Departures Leave JMU With One Upperclassman
HARRISONBURG — With less than a minute remaining in James Madison’s 83-62 loss to Indiana in the NCAA Tournament last March, sophomore guard Arman Marks found fellow sophomore forward Enoch Hood open for a jam — the final two points of the Dukes’ 2012-13 season.
A month and a half later, Hood and Marks are leaving JMU’s basketball team, a decision coach Matt Brady called “mutual.”
“It was a combination of things — academics and athletics,” said Brady, who also said that the decision didn’t boil down simply to lack of playing time, past or future.
Losing Hood and Marks is not a significant blow to JMU, with both having been marginalized by this season’s freshman class, but it does leave the Dukes even younger than they already were.
Now, without the two rising juniors, JMU will have just one scholarship player who will be a junior or senior next season: sixth-year senior Andrey Semenov. Veteran leadership, in the form of four senior starters, helped JMU to its first Colonial Athletic Association championship since 1994 last March.
The Dukes, as they stand now, will have five freshmen, one redshirt freshman, four sophomores and one senior on scholarship (as well as a senior walk-on).
What will 2013-14 be like for a relatively young team?
“I think it will be a great challenge for our program to rise above expectations, which won’t be terribly high, I don’t think,” Brady said.
Although the 6-foot-9, 210-pound Hood was one of only two players on the Dukes’ roster last season taller than 6-7, he logged just 281 minutes and scored 75 points. He averaged 5.4 points and 3.4 rebounds as a freshman, when he was pressed into heavier service on an injury-depleted roster.
“Things just didn’t work out,” said Hood, a Norfolk native who also described his departure as mutual, adding that he first brought up the topic to Brady.
Asked what could have gone better for him in his two years at Madison, Hood said his rapport with the coaches.
“I guess we could have been communicating better,” he said.
Hood said he will look to play for another Division I team, though he did not say which schools he is considering.
Marks, who also factored in much more as a freshman than a sophomore, could not be reached for comment Friday.
The 6-4, left-handed guard from Louisville, Ky., scored nine points in 43 minutes during a season in which he, at one point, believed he’d be redshirting. In late November, Marks said he would sit out the year, preserving a season of eligibility. Five days later, Brady inserted him into a loss at Miami (Ohio) while benching erratic senior A.J. Davis.
As for the dearth of upperclassmen, Brady, who received a four-year contract extension last month, said he is not too concerned with his team’s unbalanced classes.
“In a perfect world, the classes will be a little more balanced, but I am very comfortable with the returning nucleus,” Brady said. “I think this could be a tremendous team in time.”
JMU has signed five freshmen to go along with an already-experienced four-man rising sophomore class. It also will have Dimitrije Cabarkapa, who redshirted as a freshman this season.
Asked about the likelihood of JMU adding another freshman now that the Dukes have two more scholarships to offer, Brady said he’s unsure.
“Depends what day of the week you ask me that,” he said. “I feel like we’re making progress with some guys. We’re not sure. We will continue to recruit.”
A source close to the team said JMU has just one pending offer to an unsigned 2013 recruit — and that recruit is Yohanny Dalembert, a 6-foot-8 forward from Lower Merion High School just outside of Philadelphia. Dalembert, whose half-brother is NBA veteran Samuel Dalembert, visited JMU on April 25. LG Gill, a guard from Benedictine (Richmond), rejected a JMU offer in favor of Duquesne last week.
Brady — whose CAA championship run was fueled in part by two transfers, Davis and forward Rayshawn Goins — has said he would prefer to let his young players develop together, rather than seeking a quick fix with an incoming transfer.
It has become increasingly common in college basketball for players to transfer. According to a list compiled by CBSSportsline.com reporter Jeff Goodman, 386 players have opted to transfer since the end of last season, not including another 47 who transferred following the first semester.
Last season, according to Goodman, the transfer list exceeded 450.
Neither Marks nor Hood played much of an on-court role during the Dukes’ CAA title run. Hood played a total of eight minutes in three CAA tournament games; Marks did not get off the bench. The two were both inserted into the NCAA Tournament loss with less than two minutes remaining — long after the game had essentially been decided. Neither appeared in the play-in game victory over Long Island Brooklyn.
The first summer semester begins at Madison on Monday. Andre Nation, Charles Cooke, Ron Curry and Taylor Bessick, all sophomores next season, as well as incoming freshman Ivan Lukic and the veteran Semenov are scheduled to be on campus taking classes, Brady said.