New Dartmouth recruits arrive to change the fortunes of men’s hoops

Coach David McLaughlin and his Dartmouth men’s basketball team were one day away from the start of the 2017-18 season when news broke that would drastically change their year. Star junior forward Evan Boudreaux, the 2015-16 Ivy Rookie of the Year and two time second team All-Ivy, announced that he was leaving the program so he could graduate early and retain his last two years of eligibility as a graduate transfer. If that wasn’t enough, the second leading scorer in 2016-17, junior guard Guilien Smith, was lost to a season-ending injury after the third game of the year. Less than two weeks into the season, the second-year head coach had to get his team to accept their adversity and find a way to build upon the previous year’s 7-20 overall and 4-10 Ivy records. After completing last season with another 7-20 record and an eighth-place 3-11 league finish, the coach and the team need to take a step forward in 2018-19.

In addition to the loss of the would’ve-been senior Boudreaux (33.5 minutes, 17.5 points and 9.5 boards per game in ’16-’17), who initially chose to move to Xavier before finalizing a transfer to Purdue,  the Big Green will also be without the services of graduating seniors Miles Wright, Taylor Johnson and Cameron Smith.  Wright, the 2014-15 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, led last year’s team with 27 starts, 12.3 points and 1.5 steals a game, while having team second-best 32.3 minutes and 4.3 rebounds per contest. Johnson, who took Guilien Smith’s spot in the lineup, had a career high with starts (24), as well as personal bests in minutes (28.7), points (11.9), field-goal percentage (51.7), rebounds (3.7), assists (3.0), and steals (1.0) per game.  Cameron Smith, who played in all 27 games and started 17 contests in ’15-’16, had only 16 appearances last year, averaging 4.5 minutes and 1.5 points per game.  Wright will continue his career playing pro ball with Vlaur Reykjavik of Iceland, and Smith recently signed to play for UCD Marian Dublin in the Super League of Ireland.

Looking back at the team’s numbers from last year, the Big Green had offensive and defensive efficiencies in the bottom sixty-five nationally. While the team was around the top 100 in three point shooting (36.0 percent), they struggled with turnover (20 percent) and offensive rebounding (24.0 percent) rates.  On the other side of the ball, Dartmouth was 19th in the country in defensive free throw rate and just outside the top 100 in defensive rebounding rate (73.3 percent), but they were 337th in opponent two point shooting (55.7 percent) and 311th in effective field goal rate (54.5 percent).  Going into 2018-19, the Green & White will need an offense that returns a healthy Guilien Smith (12.0 ppg in ’16-’17), as well as a more sure handed roster that provides a bit more offensive production and a lot more interior defense.

Leading the team with Guilien Smith, the team’s only senior, will be junior point guard Brendan Barry and sophomore forward Chris Knight.  Barry started 26 or 27 games, averaging 35.0 minutes and 9.8 points per game.  While he only shot 36.9 percent from two, he was second in the conference with a 44.2 percent three point rate.  Barry was an exception for Dartmouth with his ability to handle the rock, having a league second-best 3.9 assists per game and an Ivy leading 2.6 assists-to-turnover ratio. In his rookie season, Knight worked his way into the starting lineup during conference play, beginning 11 of the 12 Ivy League he played.  For the season, he appeared in 25 games, averaging 21.4 minutes, 10.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.  The 6′ 6″ forward showed tremendous athleticism on both sides, with the league’s fourth best shooting (52.3 percent) and fifth best blocking (1.1 per game) rates.

Coach McLaughlin will welcome four new players to Hanover this fall, three first-years and one sophomore transfer.  Taurus Samuels is a 6′ 0″ point guard from Vista High School (San Diego County) who was rated a three star recruit by ESPN and Rivals.  According to Verbal Commits and The Left Bench websites, he had offers from UC Davis, Cal Poly, Northern Arizona, Cal State Bakersfield, Montana, and Colgate. In his senior season, he averaged 19.6 points, 5.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. In an April 2017 profile by Dave Keefer of Yahoo.com, Samuels was noted to be a high IQ guard who can score, distribute and defend.  He has a solid midrange jumper with a developing three point stroke.  Charlie Mercado, Samuels’ coach at Gamepoint Basketball, echoed Keefer’s comments, telling Daniel Oyefusi of The Left Bank, “His midrange pullup and his midrange game is as best as anybody in this area. I’ll even probably go as far as to say that part of his game is as good as anybody in the state of California.”

Wes Slajchert is another three-star (ESPN) recruit from Southern California heading across the country to play in the Upper Valley.  ESPN noted that the 6′ 4″ combo guard from Oak Hills High School had offers from Columbia, Colgate, Lehigh and American, while Verbal Commits noted additional bids from Cal State Northridge and California Baptist.  This past season, Slajchert averaged 10.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 2.9 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. For his career, he ended with 1,398 points, 752 rebounds and a Ventura County-record 801 assists.

The last of the new first years is Garrison Wade of Ridgeland, Mississippi. The 6′ 6″ wing/small forward from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds per game this year, as well as 18 points and 10 rebounds his junior year.  In leading his school to its first-ever Mississippi High School Athletic Association 3A state championship, Wade was nominated as the Mississippi boys basketball Player of the Year and was named  second team All-State by the Clarion Ledger.

Trevon Ary-Turner will come to Dartmouth after spending one season at Weber State.  During his high school career, the 6′ 3″ point guard from the Seattle suburbs was reported to have offers from the University of Washington, Washington State, Utah State, Seattle, Montana, Idaho, and Boise State by Verbal Commits. According to Brett Hein of the Standard-Examiner, Ary-Turner had two severe ankle sprains and a broken knuckle in his sophomore year at Issaquah High School, which limited him to less than 10 games.  In his 2015-16 junior season, MaxPreps listed his averages as 17.9 points, 3.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. For his senior season, he transferred to nearby Elite Academy and, according to Dartmouth Athletics, averaged 19 points and five assists. He had intended to stay one more year at Elite, playing for his father, but changed his mind and decided to attend Weber State.

At Weber State, Ary-Turner played in 18 of 31 games, averaging 10.3 minutes and 3.7 points per contest. According to a March 20th article by Mr. Hein, Trevon began the season as a rotation player, but had less playing time in conference games. Over the last nine games of the season, the guard only had two appearances of one minute each. For his rookie season, he shot 47.9 percent from the field and 41.9 percent (13 of 31) from three. As a transfer, Ary-Turner will be able to practice and workout with the team, but will not be able to appear in any games until the 2019-20 season.

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