slides: 7 Things to Know About the Future of URI Basketball
Thursday, March 23, 2017
The Rams are coming off their most successful season in 18 years, winning the A-10 Championship and reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"It drives that hunger more. I think at the university level, our fan base, I think it ignites a fire and a desire, you know, for this to be who we are every year and making that total commitment," said head coach Dan Hurley following URI's NCAA Tournament loss to Oregon.
Now the challenge for Dan Hurley is to duplicate and improve on this season's success, next season.
From incoming recruits to returning players to a look around the A-10 Conference, GoLocalProv looks at the future of URI Basketball.
See 7 Things to Know About the Future of URI Basketball in the Slideshow Below
Related Slideshow: 7 Things to Know About the Future of URI Basketball
This year a few top conference teams like the University of Missouri and the University of Indiana may take a look at Hurley after his A-10 Championship and NCAA first round win.
While Hurley gets a raise from $630,000 to $1 million per year starting with the upcoming season.
Who is Returning
E.C. Matthews is coming back for his redshirt senior year, but can he regain his form?
Matthews was once projected to be a first round NBA Draft pick, but after tearing his ACL in 2015-16 was inconsistent this past season.
Matthews averaged 15 points per game on 42% shooting, but had 15 games in which he made less than five shots from the field and one game in which he didn't score a point.
Matthews looked much more comfortable in URI's final seven games, reaching double figures in all of them.
In the A-10 tournament, Matthews carried the Rams offense scoring 20, 19 and 19 points respectively in the three games to get the Rams the title.
A good sign for URI.
Who is Leaving
URI loses two major players to graduation this season, forwards Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson.
Martin was named A-10 Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season after leading the conference with 2.4 blocked shots per game. He also averaged 14 points and 7 rebounds per game.
Kuran Iverson started 25 of 28 games this season for URI and averaged 9.8 points per game.
URI has no incoming recruits at the forward position for next season which means Nicole Akele, Cyril Langevine and Andre Berry will see their roles greatly increased.
Berry only averaged 5 minutes per game, while Akele and Langevine averaged 13 in 2016-17. All other forwards on the roster averaged less than four minutes per game.
Newcomers in 2017
A major concern next season is going to be strengthening the front court, but the Rams have no big men coming in as of now.
URI is recruiting 6'8" forward Alexis Yetna, a three-star recruit from Paris, France, but he has yet to decide.
He has scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Georgia and Pittsburgh amongst others.
The only commitment that the Rams have secured for next season at this moment is Philadelphia guard Daron Russell.
URI is also recruiting 6’0” guard Sylvain Francisco out of Liberty Christian Prep.
Francisco is ranked as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com
He has scholarship offers from Texas, Arkansas, Kansas State, Murray State, Wyoming, and URI.
It is safe to expect big things from Jeff Dowtin in his sophomore season.
As a freshman, Dowtin started 19 of 32 games and averaged 22 minutes, 6 points and 2 assists per game.
In URI's NCAA Tournament game against Creighton, Dowtin poured in a career-high 23 points on 6 of 8 shooting from the field.
With Dowtin, Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett and Matthews all returning, the Rams will have one of the best back courts in the conference, if not the country in 2017-18.
Langevine Can Play
One positive that came out of the NCAA Tournament game against Oregon is that freshman Cyril Langevine showed he can play.
While Martin struggled with foul trouble, Langevine nearly had a double-double, posting nine rebounds and nine points in the game. He also had three steals.
Other notable forwards on the URI roster include Nicole Akele and Andre Berry, but it would appear that Langevine will have the inside track to a starting role.
A-10 in 2017-18
URI, Dayton and VCU are all losing key contributors to graduation, but expect all three of them to be at the top of the conference again.
Dayton is losing their star player Scoochie Smith as well as Kendall Pollard to graduation, but are bringing in three-star recruit Nahziah Carter.
VCU lost to URI in the A-10 Championship and next season will have a new coach, Mike Rhoades. Head coach Will Wade stepped down following the NCAA Tournament.
VCU loses star players Mo Alie-Cox and JeQuan Lewis to graduation, but will welcome four-star recruit Lavar Batts Jr.
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