HARRISONBURG — There aren’t a ton of immediate question marks for James Madison men’s basketball this offseason as the Dukes return four starters and mix in solid group of reserves and promising newcomers.
Instead, the most pressing mystery is how JMU will spend the lone scholarship currently available for the class of 2020. The Dukes had four recruits locked down for 2019 by the early signing period last November, and as the summer recruiting season presses on, it’s possible Madison could have the spot vacated upon the graduation of senior swingman Antanee Pinkard filled in the coming months.
Most of the recent scholarship offers extended by JMU coach Louis Rowe and staff for rising high school seniors have gone to post players. Center Dwight Wilson, who had a breakout season last year averaging 10.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, is heading into his junior season. So is reserve power forward Zach Jacobs, who led the Dukes in blocked shots.
Devon Flowers, whose medical hardship appeal to become a redshirt freshman is still being reviewed by the NCAA, and Mike Fowler are the only other pure post players 6-8 or taller on the roster, so it makes sense the Dukes would look to boost young depth in the paint.
Thursday, Jamille Reynolds, a 6-10 power forward from Tampa, Fla., reopened his recruitment. The 3-star prospect from Lakewood High School visited JMU last fall, but cut his list to five schools earlier this month, leaving off the Dukes.
Reynolds told the Daily News-Record he’s once again considering all schools, including JMU, but Thursday afternoon Boston College and Georgia became the latest major-conference programs to offer, along with Arkansas, Miami, South Carolina, Florida and others.
Madison has also recently offered St. Stephens & St. Agnes School center Andre Screen. The Northern Virginia product is a 6-11, 240-pound senior also picked up offers from Lehigh, Bucknell, Saint Joseph's, Rhode Island, LaSalle, Towson, George Mason and others following an impressive performance at last weekend’s live period recruiting event in the Washington area.
Among other post players the Dukes have been actively recruiting are 6-9 Greensboro, N.C., forward Dean Reiber; Davidson Day (N.C.) power forward C.J. Huntley; Decatur, Ga., forward Christian Fussell and 6-11 Richmond center Burke Smith.
Smith has offers from several Colonial Athletic Association schools along with Ohio, George Mason, Richmond and others. Fussell, who received his offer from JMU on June 3, has since picked up offers from Mississippi State, VCU, Georgia Tech and Northeastern along with a bunch of others and visited Kennesaw State on Thursday.
As for Huntley, while the Dukes currently have just one scholarship available for 2020, they’ve shown particular interest in both him and his Davidson Day teammate Jackson Threadgill, a 6-5 guard.
Davidson Day participated in a team camp at JMU last year, and both Huntley and Threadgill said they hoped to schedule another visit to Madison in the near future. Threadgill, who has offers from Northeastern, Mercer, Wofford, Elon, Charlotte and several others, has impressed JMU coaches with his shooting ability and toughness.
Though Rowe and Co. have focused on big men as of late, perhaps the Dukes would take a guard of Threadgill’s caliber. The Davidson Day pair has also had discussions about the possibility of playing together in college.
As it becomes increasingly rare across college basketball for teams to go a year without a transfer, it’s always possible JMU winds up with room for both.
“I’ve been talking to Coach [JMU assistant Byron] Taylor a lot,” Huntley said. “I’m still considering a lot of schools, but Jackson and I talk about playing together a lot. JMU has a really nice campus and great coaching staff and facilities. It’s a place that we really like.”