The Saint Louis Billikens are hitting the reset button. After two very successful seasons followed by two complete disasters under Jim Crews and an overall trend that Billikens fans hoped to avoid, SLU said farewell to their four-year head coach and introduced Travis Ford to the Chaifetz faithful.
Almost immediately, massive changes were implemented.
Two of the Billikens most promising young players in Miles Reynolds (8.2 ppg, 2.5 apg) and Malik Yarbrough (7.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg) opted to transfer out following the Ford hiring. Both had potential to be part of a future group that could eventually lift SLU back up off the mat.
But out with the old and in with the new. While Ford would likely have liked to keep the two talented underclassmen, he’ll instead look to rebuild with some incoming transfers of his own.
“I like the pieces we’ve put together a lot,” Ford told the Saint Louis Post Dispatch. “It’s not necessarily a formula I’ll stick with, but it’s always good if you can get good (transfers) to kick start everything. They’re all leaving schools for different reasons. Then there are two freshmen we’re bringing in that I think will make a big impact on our team.”
JAVON BESS (MICHIGAN STATE)
A high school four-star recruit (ESPN unranked, Rivals No.119), Bess struggled to collect minutes during the second half of his sophomore season with the Spartans, hitting double-digit minutes just four times in his last 23 games after averaging 18.5 minutes during Michigan State’s first 12 games (a perfect 12-0, for what it’s worth). Bess showed flashes in his first two college seasons but was never able to string together enough consistency (especially against quality competition) to hint toward a successful future on an MSU team with the ability to land McDonald’s All-Americans. Bess is an athletic 6’5 guard who does most of his damage inside the arc, attempting just 11 three-point attempts his two season in the Big 10 (of his 95 total attempts). He’ll sit out next season but could be an impact player for Ford come 2017.
ADONYS HENRIQUEZ (CENTRAL FLORIDA)
The top three-point shooter (35.8%) and second-leading scorer (10.1 ppg) from last season’s UCF Knights team, Henriquez opted to leave his hometown of Orlando for the Gateway City in order to join Ford’s Billikens squad where he’ll prepare for action starting the 2017-18 season. A 6’6 shooter, Henriquez was very highly recruited out of high school and in two seasons at the D1 level has proven why. Adonys’ career three-point mark of 36.9% in loads of action his first two season (295 three-point attempts) will be a welcome addition to a Saint Louis team that ranked 252nd nationally in three-point percentage this past season, 12th among A-10 teams. His been a so-so finisher inside the arc on his career but struggled around the rim last season in AAC play. Still his length and three-point shooting make Adonys a nice early pickup for Ford, filling a need on the Billikens 2017-18 roster.
DJ FOREMAN (RUTGERS)
Ford added some size with 6’8 230 Rutgers transfer DJ Foreman. Foreman got a good amount of burn his first two seasons at Rutgers so heads into the A-10 with plenty of high-level action under his belt. The Spring Valley, NY native’s main value comes via his ability to attack the glass, averaging six boards for the Scarlet Knights this past season while checking in with a solid 17.4% defensive rebound percentage. Foreman has nice handles for his size but hasn’t been a particularly strong finisher inside the arc thus far during his college career. He does however make up for that by getting to the free throw stripe at a fairly high rate where he has improved since his freshman season.
As we’ve seen, a lot can happen in an offseason. But with these latest additions Ford has helped stopped the bleeding at Saint Louis and could have the pieces in place for a bounce-back 2017-18 year. Bess, Henriquez and Foreman will join a junior class consisting of SLU’s best returning player, Jermaine Bishop. That group combined with then-senior Davell Roby could be a team that could do some damage in the A-10 and have Chaifetz Arena once more a house of horrors for visiting Atlantic 10 foes.