Hello and welcome in to the newest side of A10Talk.com, the Loyola Chicago side. We wanted to write a bit about who we hope and think to be on the roster for next season. As many of you all know, the Transfer Portal is bigger than ever. It’s possible we may lose a player or two before the season begins, but this is what we know for now. Also, if you care to read until the end you can meet the two of us who wrote the article and will be writing future Loyola Ramblers articles on this great website.
Braden Norris will be the heart and soul of the Loyola team next season. He already leads the team in minutes played and assists. He also is second in steals, points per game, and 3 pointers made while shooting them at a 42.5% clip. He’s listed at 6’0”, but plays like a Border Terrier with other Big Dogs – he has no clue he’s often the smallest player on the floor. He initiates the offense, can be disruptive on the defensive end, will take and make two threes if he makes one, and has begun to rebound more as this year has gone on. Braden comes from Hilliard, Ohio. He played a year at Oakland University in the Horizon league, where he was on the All Freshman team. He transferred to Loyola the next year, sat out the 2019-2020 season, and was on the All Newcomer team in the MVC the next season. This season he was on the Third Team All-MVC.
Braden has had his share of memorable moments in two seasons at Loyola. He finished last year on a high note. He put up 20 points in the Arch Madness championship game, was given all-tournament team honors, and he followed that up by putting up 16 points and 8 assists in their first round matchup against Georgia Tech in the NCAAT. This year he almost single handedly beat Valparaiso University at home by sinking 4 threes in the two overtime periods while on his way to a career high 23 points. Oftentimes I think we talk about players in reference to their potential and thus the team’s ceiling, but I see Braden a little differently. This team’s floor will be determined by how efficient and productive Norris is at the PG position next year. If he limits his turnovers and continues to make 40% of his three pointers while dishing out more than 4 assists per game, the next Loyola team will continue to beat the teams they need to in order to avoid bad losses. Braden will have at least one more year of eligibility and the additional Covid year if he chooses to take it.
Marquise Kennedy not only will be the most athletic player next season but will be jumping high to the rim with each drive to the basket. It’s wild to think this will be his fourth year with the team. As a senior academically, Coach Drew will look for him to take on more leadership responsibility. Marquise will step into a recent pedigree at Loyola of guards that come from the great city of Chicago. Kennedy comes from Brother Rice here in Chicago. He immediately had a very impressive freshman year. Marquise won sixth man of the year, averaging 9.2 points per game and just over a steal a game. Since then he has found a tremendous job leading the bench rotation, and this past season he has stepped into the starting rotation.
Marquise really filled an important role for the Ramblers by beginning the 2021-2022 season as a starter. Before that he was a vital bench player that truly would ignite either a comeback push or progress the team’s lead. He adds an energy on the court and takes a significant division of the ball handling duties. He takes the pressure off key guards Braden and Lucas. You realize his impact especially when Kennedy was sidelined for the last 8 regular season games including 3 of our 7 losses in the regular season. Once back healthy, Marquise immediately boosted the defensive side of the ball for the Ramblers. He relieved Williamson and Norris of some of the pressure. Through the 3 conference tournament games Kennedy averaged 9 points and 2 steals a game. For a guy who saw no game time in over a month, he played some really big minutes. Kennedy will most likely fit right back into Drew Valentine’s starting role and with Lucas gone. He will play a pivotal role on defense and could challenge for a spot on the all A10 Defensive Team.
Jacob ‘Hutty’ Hutson is a player that emerged as a key player late toward the end of his freshman season, last year. Jacob hails from the Edina, Minnesota area where standing at 6’10 he truly made himself known in the high school recruiting trail with plenty of mid major offers. The only player Loyola had recruited successfully at 6’9” or taller was Cameron Krutwig. The years before Krutwig, Loyola rarely had a dependable center. However it took Hutty some time to find the court. Early on he was labeled walk-on, then scholarship, and then there were mentions of redshirting. Though Jacob found time in blow out wins against Illinois State and D3 schools, it was Arch Madness 2021 and the NCAA tournament where we started seeing this center find a role for the Ramblers.
Hutson carved out an important off the bench role into Arch Madness and the NCAAT run in the 20-21 season. When looking at the box score, you will only see 5 points against Drake and Illinois. Though it truly was the culmination of watching what many early on believed to be a reserve become a leader off the bench in crunch time. Hutty was able to keep up and compete with big man Kofi Cockburn of Illinois. That was the highlight of his year that season. With such an impressive ending, many expected big things from Hutty following the departure of Cam Krutwig. This past year, Hutty had some great outings including scoring 26 points against ASU, but also there were also some down moments for Hutson. No matter how you slice it, be ready to see Jacob Hutson potentially emerge from barely 2 full years experience on the court entering the A10 with 3 more years of eligibility.
It feels weird to type this out, but Tom Welch will be one of only two players to be playing in their fourth year for Loyola next year, which makes him one of the longest tenured Ramblers. Tom was a two sport athlete in high school. He won the Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year as a goalkeeper in 2018. You can tell while he’s on the court that he was a two sport athlete. His hand eye coordination is great, he’s got pretty good footwork, and he always seems to be in control of his body. Welch from every report and eye witness account is the ultimate teammate. He and Marquise Kennedy have been teammates since their high school AAU days with the Illinois Wolves. Tom’s last two seasons have been pretty similar. He’s had a handful of games where it looks like he’s seizing a bigger role, but then gets reassigned to be a matchup player. Last year he had games scoring 18 and 17 points, but became very limited in postseason play. This year he scored 15 points in the second game of the year, and he has had two separate games where he scored 10 and was vital in those wins.
Tom’s development may not be obvious from stat lines or box scores, but he has changed his game in three years with the Ramblers. Coming out of high school there were lots of questions about what position he’d play. Most people thought he’d be a tall 3 or a stretch 4. It was obvious in his freshman year that he struggled guarding quicker ball handlers. The other problem was that Porter Moser refused to play Welch with Krutwig. That really limited his minutes. This year, he has become a much more efficient player on both ends of the court. He has bulked up and become stronger. He picks up fewer reach in and shooting fouls, and has started to block or impact more shots. And on offense he has cut his turnovers down and shown that he has a little ball fake & drive game to go along with his pick & roll game. Tom may not have a huge impact in A10 play over the next couple years, but I think there may be a couple games each year when he will hang 15+ points on a team, and fans might think “why is THIS guy beating us?” The thing with Tom Welch has never been if he has potential or ability, Welch needs the playing time and opportunity to break out.
Saint Thomas is the most fun and exciting player on this roster. He oozes talent. Some college basketball pundits are very high on him. Namely, Kevin Sweeny of Sports Illustrated said that Saint has “an NBA body and ceiling”. Saint hails from Omaha where he beat out his 5 star teammate and Gonzaga wing, Hunter Sallis for MaxPreps Nebraska High School Player of the Year his senior year. Saint plays basketball with unrivaled jubilance and levity. You can always find him wearing a big smile and unique sneakers. His hair both adds 2 inches to his height and is uniquely him. His fan club at Loyola is pretty large already, but will only grow as he finds more playing time. He’s hyper aware that he’s playing in front of a crowd who loves and roots for him.
Saint Thomas the basketball player is just as exciting as his personality. He’s had a couple games where he’s played double digit minutes, but his role his freshman year has been precisely defined. He comes in towards the end of the first half to provide energy, size, and speed in an attempt to push the ball and look for fast break opportunities. His senior year in high school he made 45% of his three pointers with a large volume of attempts. He averaged 21.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game in Nebraska’s top basketball conference. We’ve seen Saint develop in his limited role throughout the year. He’s developed his offensive game to be more than a three point shooter while he’s in. He can back down smaller opponents in the post, or take slower defenders off the dribble. He’s a gifted passer and shot blocker, but needs to develop a better feel for when to use them. His biggest room for improvement is defending quicker ball handlers and rebounding amongst the bigs. If you’re looking for a Loyola player to elevate this team next year quickly to the top three teams in the Atlantic 10 due to his development, it’s Saint Thomas. He should have every opportunity to make a statement on the court next year.
TY (“tee-why”) Johnson is the newest addition to the great local Chicago high school talent to find his way to Rogers Park. TY comes from DePaul Prep, an awkward name due to our rivalry with DePaul University, just a few miles from Gentile Arena. He helped find his scoring on the court from deep and on the fast break. We watched his COVID senior year end with a Chicago Chipotle City Championship. During this tournament he beat teams in his conference as well as teams from better conferences with high-major talent. A group of high profile local high schools teamed together to put on a form of playoffs that mostly was absent at the time because of coronavirus. TY would lead his team to victory for the city title with his talents and senior leadership. This is a formula I feel is big with a handful of present and past Ramblers is the experience of winning big games in their high school years.
Now TY truly did not show much of what he had done in high school during his freshman year with the team. He played in 13 games and averaged 4 minutes a game. With multiple games under 2 minutes and only 2 games with over 10 minutes. With the departure of so many seniors, we will see TY raise a spot on the point guard depth chart. With his expanded role, I expect to see a lockdown defender off the bench with an eye for fancy finishes at the rim and flashy passes.
Damezi Anderson has had one of the most interesting careers for a college basketball player. Damezi was a top 100 recruit coming out of Riley High School in Indiana. He was a finalist for Indiana Mr. Basketball, and decided to stay home to play for Indiana University. Both of his seasons at Indiana had a similar story. He’d start out hot, hit a cold patch, and his coach would reduce his minutes to squeeze him out of the rotation. After two years at IU, he transferred to Loyola. Last year, he played extremely sparingly only getting in during blowouts partially due a stacked roster. This season, Damezi has redshirted due to an injury at the beginning of the season.
Damezi has all the physical tools to be a high level player. He’s 6’7”, athletic, a hard worker, impressive passer, and he was a prolific scorer in high school. We’re yet to see much of his play at Loyola, so it’s tough to see if his game has changed at all since his days at Indiana. Two things will most likely determine how successful he is next season: his 3 point shooting and his defense. Some critics claimed that his poor defense at IU was one of the key factors to being squeezed out of the rotation. Damezi will have to play good defense in order to play big minutes next season. Loyola fans can hope that he ends up playing like Aher Uguak this past season at some point in his career. Damezi has two years of eligibility remaining.
Ben Schwieger will wow you in pregame warmups with his high flying dunks. Almost every game you can find him trying some new variation of a windmill or 360 slam. This shouldn’t be a surprise if you know that he was a high level high school volleyball player. (I would know, I played four years of high school volleyball in the same conference that Ben did). Even though Ben is taking a redshirt year, that hasn’t stopped Loyola fans from dreaming of a high flying athlete that we haven’t seen since Donte Ingram. With his athleticism, quickness, and 6’6” frame, Ben has the opportunity to be able to defend 1-4. We’ll have to see if he profiles more as a big guard or a quick wing player in the future.
Ben took a longer time to bloom into a top player in the state of Illinois, but once he did he exploded onto the scene. Between his sophomore and Junior year, he increased his points per game from 3.2 to 16.4. His senior year, he became Waubonsie Valley High School’s clear number 1 option during their abbreviated Covid season. He shot a 48.6 percent clip from three his senior season. Due to his late blooming and abbreviated senior season, redshirting made a lot of sense for him this past year. Ben has a ton of potential, but needed a year of development to refine his game and figure out what role he might play on future Rambler teams. I wouldn’t expect much more playing time than 5-10 minutes for him next year as a complimentary piece. The most exciting thing is that he has a year under his belt in the Loyola system, while still maintaining his 4 years of eligibility.
Out of Tuscola high school in Illinois, Jalen Quinn has placed his name in the history books at his High School. He became the all time leading scorer and then a member of the all-state team in 1A. Jalen also won a national title with his AAU program, Illinois Wolves. Jalen shows a DNA that often is found on recent Rambler rosters. First, he plays AAU for the Illinois Wolves, which at one point I believe our roster had 4 alumni. Second, he knows how to score from both inside and outside on the court. Right after he committed to Loyola in a response he said he wanted to focus now on his high school team and to improve his three point shot.
He definitely did improve. From watching the tape over his junior year, I noticed he loved to drive to the hoop and just explode to the rim. Truly a very similar high school tape to that of Marques Townes back in the day. Quinn stands at 6’4, and he shows that he has a few gears he can shift in and out of. Jalen shows that he has speed to the rim and then can pop out for a deep three. With the depth chart opening up next season, I can see the addition of Quinn boost the bench squad with his size. Rambler fans are excited to see his size and speed to attack the basket. I really would be interested in seeing a backcourt of TY, Saint and Jalen for the size and quickness.
For the first time in what I believe to be ever at Loyola, we have two high school players in back to back classes out of the state of Nebraska. Jayden Dawson is a three-star recruit according to 247Sportt. He possesses a 6-foot-8-inch wingspan. During his junior season, he helped Omaha Central High School to a 20-6 overall record by averaging 14.3 points. Jayden connected on 49 percent of his field goal tries and 44 percent of his three-point attempts in 2020-21. Not only from the box score does Dawson impress, but his highlight tapes include many high flying dunks. Using that 6 foot 8 wingspan Jayden just has the jumps and quickness to move the ball as a strong guard.
Jayden’s fit on the Loyola roster next year is really exciting, from the loss of guard production from graduating seniors. There is a hole that I feel Jayden can fill in and it is the part of Keith Clemons played in 21-22 season. Dawson should come off the bench to produce from three and then help find another teammate driving to the basket. Jayden is truly my outlier of the recruiting class. Because of his position I feel that he can really spread the court in a small ball lineup, which Drew this past season has felt in some cases helps secure the win. A different type of athlete is what Jayden Dawson can bring to the Ramblers in the 22-23 season. We are excited to see him fit into a very strong backcourt recruiting class.
Treyvon Lewis is one of the three impressive incoming freshmen from the 2022 class. Trey is a 3 star recruit from Ferndale Michigan. He’s currently one of six finalists for Mr. Basketball of Michigan. Trey played his AAU ball with The Family which ran in the Nike EYBL this past year. His frame and body type is a huge facet of his game. Trey is 6’5” with a 7’(!) wingspan. He’s currently leading his team to an impressive season, as Ferndale is one of the top 5 teams in the state of Michigan.
Trey plays a fun and graceful brand of basketball. He seems to slither and glide around the court on both sides of the ball. Since I’ve been watching tape on him, I constantly come away quietly impressed with what I see. He’s both fundamentally sound and exciting. His 7’ wingspan helps him on both sides of the ball. During his senior year, he has improved at getting clean blocks and steals that lead to easy buckets for him and his teammates. Trey also has an impressive mid range game that is pretty unique for a Loyola recruit. He has an impressive hesitation dribble that can set up all three facets of his game: three pointers, mid range, and driving to the hoop. I’m not quite sure what his role will be for the Ramblers next season. He could follow in Ben Schwieger’s footsteps and redshirt his first year. Or he could play Saint Thomas’s role next year and log a few minutes each game. Either way, I’m excited to see what Trey will do in Chicago!
Hey everyone, I’m one half of Podcast63, Andrew Buchholz. I graduated in 2019 from Loyola Chicago with a degree in Environmental Engineering. I’m originally from the western suburbs of Chicago, specifically Glen Ellyn, IL. When I’m not watching the Ramblers or researching random Loyola players from previous years, you can find me outside playing softball in the summer or drinking at a dive bar. I’m also a pretty big PC gamer. I like playing games like Apex Legends, Player Unknown Battlegrounds, or Pokémon. Also, I like trying to cook new things in the kitchen or perfect my classic meals. My favorite moment as a Loyola fan would have to be the regular season finale in 2018 at home against Illinois State. We had already locked up the conference title, but the game was for bragging rights. After we won our first conference title since 1987, we all stormed the court. My favorite moment lives on the Loyola Youtube page. If you can find the tall kid who ran on the court with the referee shirt on, that’s me!
Hi there, I am the second half of Podcast63, Thomas Smyth. I graduated Loyola Chicago in 2019 with a degree in Information Systems and in 2020 a Masters of Data Analytics from Loyola. I am originally from the suburb of New York City, Yonkers, NY. I had the amazing experience working in Loyola Athletics over my undergraduate years at Loyola. I love movies, cooking, and pub trivia, and If you can combine the Ramblers in there then it’s a great time. When I am not in the rafters of Gentile, you can find me behind a switch controller riding around Mario Kart and dodging some shells. When my life is not involved in Loyola Athletics I love trying to watch my NY sports teams of Mets, Knicks, Jets win, but that does not happen too often. My favorite moment of Loyola is being down in St. Louis for Arch Madness in 2018 to watch the Ramblers clinch the automatic qualifier from the MVC. This moment of course kicked off the winning tradition but I believe began the foundation for a winning program.
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