Photo: Courtesy of NBC Sports
Yesterday, media sources across the nation released the news – Ronnie Harrell is transferring from Creighton University to the University of Denver as a graduate transfer. A local Denver high school player, the 6’7″ Harrell was playing 25 minutes per game for the Bluejays and averaged 7 points and 6 rebounds in the rugged Big East.
The deciding factor, besides returning to his hometown, was likely his relationship with Denver’s head coach Rodney Billups, his cousin.
And folks around the country reacted to this move by Harrell.
And, the news also just gets a little better for the Pioneers in the Summit League as South Dakota graduate transfer Matt Mooney announced that he is transferring from the program – several weeks after their coach Craig Smith left to take the reins at Utah State. Mooney absolutely demolished the Pioneers in a number of games over his career and his departure will put a major dent in South Dakota’s 2018-2019 season hopes. And, no word yet on South Dakota State University’s superstar Mike Daum. The rumors on the street are that he will either transfer or test the demand for his services in the NBA draft without an agent. And, other Summit League teams are announcing defections as well. We will update them all in a future article.
And, hold on again, the news gets better again for Denver.
Last week the University of Denver received a verbal commitment from 6’9″ power-forward David Nzekwesi. Verbal Commits shows Nzekwesi’s hometown as The Hague, Netherlands and he plays at Byron Nelson High School located in Trophy Club, Texas, about 20 miles north of Fort Worth.
Nzekwesi, who currently has 20 offers, had narrowed his schools to Fresno State and Denver before last week.
Nzekwesi told D1 Vision , “The main thing I’m looking for is a team that wins, has a good coaching staff, somewhere I can go to develop even more, good academics, and somewhere that I will get to play. This season at Byron Nelson High School, Nzekwesi averaged close to 19 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Combine 6’9″ prep player David Nzekwesi with grad transfer 6’7″ Ronnie Harrell Jr. and 21-year-old 6’8″ Alperen Kurnaz from Turkey – and, suddenly, DU is big, athletic and experienced up-front.
All these moves by Denver, combined with graduation and transfers across the Summit League, place Denver squarely in the hunt for their first Summit League title. That is if all the different parts jell and Denver gets solid guard play alongside senior veteran Joe Rosga.
So, with Harrell Jr. as the veteran linchpin, for the first time in a long, long time – Denver hoops fans can realistically dream about the Pioneers competing for a conference title next season.