Over the past month, the DU men’s basketball team has lost two members and added another two. DU sophomore Joseph Lanzi and freshman Owen McGlashan have entered the NCAA transfer portal. Denver followed these departures by adding freshmen Omar Rowe and flex guard/wing Drake Muller. Rowe and Muller join Sam Hines, Jr., a small forward, as DU’s freshman triad next season. It is worth noting with over 700 players entering the transfer portal each season so losing 1-2 players is not unexpected.
Interestingly, DU did not plug these two openings by snagging veteran Division I players. For example, we liked 4-star Denver East sophomore, Daylen Kountz, who entered the portal from CU. Denver was eyeing him out of high school but he struggled to play at CU and never hit his stride. Instead, Denver likely feels burned with past efforts signing experienced ballers which damaged team chemistry. Or, more likely, Kountz has other plans for his basketball future.
This also signals a long-term development plan by the coaching staff versus a quick-fix transfer portal prospect. But, this threesome has to be considered critical to next year’s success and the future of Rodney Billups’ program going forward. There have been far too many recruiting misfires over recent seasons to miss out on yet another class.
As we mentioned in our season recap, Denver desperately needs a third player to step up and join Robert Jones and Jase Townsend in the scoring column and replace some of Ade Murkey’s scoring production. DU also needs a guard or wing player who can threaten from the outside, penetrate and score, penetrate and dish or penetrate and kick-out to Townsend. Both Taelyr Gatlin and Roscoe Eastmond can do many of these things – but neither of the two has shown the ability to score consistently while generating assists and playing lock-down defense. Perhaps one or more of the freshman trio will fit the bill.
Lanzi a 6’4″ guard from Alabama, showed flashes in 20 games in his freshman year but his playing time slipped this season and he ended the campaign with 4.1 points per game and 2.1 rebounds. Owen McGlashan, a freshman forward from New Jersey, averaged less than a point, under a rebound and four minutes of playing time per game in 15 contests.
Rowe is a 6’5″ shooting guard from Long Island, New York and played for Sacred Heart Academy in Connecticut. He is a 2-star recruit. The coaching staff hopes he can provide a scoring punch and take the pressure off Jase Townsend while holding his own on the defensive end. He has good size and can play inside and out. But, does he have a consistent outside shot to allow his speed and quickness to exploit the interior of defenses?
Drake Muller, a 6’4″ big-bodied guard, attended Greenhill School in Addison, Texas. He played point guard, shooting guard, and small forward, averaging 18 points per game. He is versatile and can play all over the floor with a better long-distance shooting touch than Murkey. On tape, he moves like Jon Konchar with the ability to distribute the ball well and operate in traffic. Denver has had excellent luck in the past with Texas players so maybe Muller will be that diamond in the rough for DU.
Small forward Sam Hines Jr. hails from Marietta, Georgia. Hines was an early signee with DU and was a teammate of soon-to-be DU sophomore Roscoe Eastmond. At 6’5″, Hines is said to possess many of the same athletic skills of departed senior Ade Murkey, Hines Jr. was a two-time all-region selection in hoops and posted averages of 12.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a junior. Unlike Murkey, hopefully, Hines’ development, production, and consistency will begin earlier in his collegiate career.
It is interesting to note that the three incoming players are all shooting guard/wing players so Denver is obviously looking to bolster their perimeter and replace Ade Murkey’s production. Also, it looks like Denver is set with their current post rotation of Robert Jones, David Nzekwesi and Tristan Green.
Denver is desperately seeking consistent third and fourth scorers and maybe these players can provide that rare freshman production during the 2020-2021 basketball season.
Top photo: Courtesy of Denver Athletics