Former Rutgers swingman Mike Poole is biggest name in a seven-man recruiting class for Tim Cluess as Iona seeks to defend MAAC Championship. (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)
Last season, Tim Cluess experienced a massive roster overhaul after losing Scott Machado and Mike Glover to graduation, and the unusually high amount of new personnel paid off as Iona celebrated its first conference championship in seven years. Only a few short months later, a high roster turnover is once again in vogue in New Rochelle, as six newcomers were brought into the Hynes Center for the 2013-14 season, when the Gaels start their title defense in the hopes of becoming the first team to repeat as MAAC champions since Siena won the middle of their three straight conference titles in 2009.
Headlined by 6-5 wing Mike Poole, who spent his first three years at Rutgers before transferring in the wake of the scandal that cost former head coach Mike Rice his job, the Gaels are yet again a blend of youth infused with battle-tested players, a combination Cluess coached to the program's second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
Iona's incoming group also includes 6-4 sophomore combo guard Kelvin Amayo, who transfers to New Rochelle from Marshall University after a highly regarded high school career alongside Shaq Thomas of Cincinnati and Fordham's Ryan Rhoomes at NIA Prep in Newark, an institution that also produced Iona's imposing interior presence, junior forward David Laury. Junior college transfer Isaiah Williams is the only other non-freshman of the Gaels' seven rookies, and is a 6-7 swingman who averaged 17 points and over eight rebounds per game last year at State College Florida Manatee-Sarasota, where he played under Brock Erickson, who joined the Iona coaching staff as Cluess' third assistant earlier in the offseason.
The Gaels' trio of true freshmen will all attempt to aid Laury on a front line that loses valuable glue guy Taaj Ridley going into the new season. Alaska native Ryden Hines is a 6-10, 230-pound forward who averaged 21 points and eight rebounds per game in prep school at the Impact Academy in Las Vegas last year, and played football in high school in his native Anchorage. At 6-6, Shack Scott will slide in alongside Tre Bowman and Sean Armand on the wing after spurning new MAAC addition Quinnipiac to play for Cluess, while 6-11 Daniel Robinson arrives in New Rochelle from the IMG Academy in Florida, a prep school that has turned out Big East players the likes of UConn's DeAndre Daniels and St. John's guard Phil Greene in recent years.
While Iona prepares for its future, its past will also be striving to reach the next level, as Momo Jones has accepted an invite to a minicamp held by the Portland Trail Blazers in th hopes of making the Blazers' Summer League team, which debuts in Las Vegas on Saturday. Jones had been rumored to have signed with the Boston Celtics shortly after failing to be selected in last month's NBA Draft, but the deal fell through, according to Jones' agent. The second straight Gael to win the Haggerty Award as the best player in the metropolitan area, Jones capped off a senior season that earned him MAAC Player of the Year and Tournament Most Valuable Player honors with a 22.6 points per game average that ranked the Harlem product third in the nation in scoring.
Please continue to follow A Daly Dose Of Hoops for further offseason news regarding Momo Jones and Iona College.