The true beginning of the Travis Ford era at Saint Louis University is finally here, and I cannot wait. The transfers are ready, the first full batch of recruits are here, next year’s have signed their LOIs, and the season tips off tonight. While there’s a time for a sober, measured look at the year ahead, now is not that time. Now is the time for excitement at what the season brings.
In Ford’s first year, SLU steadily improved throughout the year, and while they weren’t good, they exceeded expectations, going 6-12 in the A-10 when some predicted they wouldn’t even win a game. This year, that squad is augmented with a slew of talented transfers and highly touted recruits. For the first time since most of the late Rick Majerus’ players graduated, the Billikens look like they’re going to be competitive in the A-10, and most of all, it looks like they’re going to be a really fun team to watch.
Four star freshmen Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French are incredible athletes who will contribute right off the bat for SLU. Seeing Goodwin, a top-60 recruit from the St. Louis area, in a Billikens uniform will be especially exciting. It’s been a long time since SLU has had a player this highly coveted, and Goodwin being a local hero makes it that much better. Transfers Adonys Henriquez(UCF), Javon Bess(Michigan State), DJ Foreman(Rutgers) and Ty Graves(Boston College) all saw significant playing time at their schools before they transferred and will make an immediate impact, giving the Billikens added scoring punch, athleticism and toughness.
Senior Davell Roby and sophomore Jalen Johnson each made huge strides in their first season under Ford, and will be key contributors as well. Roby is the unquestioned leader of the team, but he contributes more than just leadership. Last season he was one of the better defenders and best three-point shooters in the A-10. Johnson, meanwhile, is a dangerous stretch 4 who adds crucial three point shooting and rebounding. And don’t forget about Jermaine Bishop, coming off a medical redshirt.
There’s even more talent coming down the pipeline, as three recruits signed their National Letter of Intent this week. Fred Thatch is a tough bulldog of a guard out of Sikeston, MO and Mickey Pearson is a long 6’8 wing with a smooth stroke and surprising guard skills for his size. The crown jewel, however, is forward Carte’Are Gordon, from Webster Groves, MO. Gordon is the highest rated recruit to sign with SLU since Larry Hughes, and representative of the energy Ford has brought to SLU. Before Travis Ford, SLU would have no chance at recruits like Gordon or Goodwin. However, he signed two of the best recruits St. Louis has had in years just months into his first year on the job. It’s incredible, it’s exciting, and unlike anything I’ve seen before as a Billiken fan. I love it.
After years aboard the rudderless Crews ship, it’s exhilarating to see Saint Louis University basketball have direction and making a splash. With all these new players, this season might get off to a bumpy start, but SLU’s going places and I’m happy to be along for the ride.