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St. Joe's future shifts with Jordan Hall's surprise departure

04/28/2021, 6:15pm EDT
By Josh Verlin

Jordan Hall (above) announced on Wednesday that he would be transferring from St. Joe's. (Photo courtesy Atlantic 10))

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

No discussion about the future of Saint Joseph’s basketball ended with Jordan Hall, but they almost all started there. The 6-foot-7, 215-pound freshman out of Neumann-Goretti was undoubtedly one of the bright spots of the Hawks’ 2020-21 season, a jack-of-all-trades point guard who looked primed to be one of the best players in the Atlantic 10 the next few years. 

The future of the St. Joe’s men’s basketball program changed course unexpectedly Wednesday afternoon, when Hall announced he was transferring out of the school following a standout debut season.

His Tweet was short:

Suddenly, St. Joe’s was going to be without its Atlantic 10 All-Rookie performer, who averaged 10.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg and 5.7 apg in 20 games (18 starts). Without him, a future that held plenty of optimism takes a sizable –– but not insurmountable –– hit, one that head coach Billy Lange is going to have to figure out how to manage inside and out of his locker room.

A true all-around talent, Hall was really coming on strong at the end of the season, averaging 15.3 ppg and shooting 47.7% from 3-point range (21-of-44) over the last eight games of the season. That included a 22-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist performance against La Salle which was undoubtedly his breakout moment. 

When Ryan Daly went out for the middle 10 games of the season, Hall ended up playing point guard, showcasing his abilities on the ball; his assist number was 21st nationally and tops amongst all D-I freshmen. It was a season that had plenty around the program talking Hall up as its next NBA prospect, following in the footsteps of Charlie Brown Jr. and DeAndre Bembry, not to mention Jameer Nelson.

There’s no doubt that Hall’s list of suitors is going to instantly include the top programs in college hoops; Hall won’t have any shortage of options, even in the tightest year for collegiate scholarships in modern history.

Yes, this is the Era of Transfers, so any one players’ decision to leave their school shouldn’t be too surprising. But Hall’s situation was somewhat different, despite the fact that it was clear he would be a coveted high-major target if he left Hawk Hill. He’d been courted hard by the Hawks’ staff since before he really came into his own as a senior at Neumann-Goretti, and had a strong support system in the area.

On March 9, five days after Saint Joseph’s season ended with a loss to Massachusetts, Neumann-Goretti assistant John Brennan, who has a close relationship with Hall, Tweeted “Coaches, basketball ppl, etc. - Jordan Hall is not transferring,” adding “Let this tweet [sic] put to rest all speculation & rumors.” That Tweet was still online when Hall made his announcement, but was deleted soon afterwards.

When Hall Tweeted out that he was departing St. Joe’s, it was more surprising than other decisions this offseason, even in a year when more players than ever before (1,500+) have transferred colleges due to COVID-related relaxed NCAA regulations.

None of this should make Hall feel any differently about his choice; it’s one he’s welcome to make, and a statement the program put out shortly after Hall’s makes it seem like it was one the coaching staff understood, even while they certainly weren’t happy to hear it.

But it’s certainly the type of departure that raises some questions, with both Hall and the Hawks’ statements not providing much info to go by. 

When reached by text, Brennan said that Hall wouldn’t add further comment, saying Hall “wants to keep his personal decisions private.” A St. Joe’s spokesman also said that the Hawks’ coaching staff would not be commenting further on Hall’s departure.

Without Hall, St. Joe’s still has pieces to build around. Lange added three players this month in 6-10 junior forward Ejike Obinna (Vanderbilt), 7-0 sophomore center Charles Coleman (East Carolina) and 6-8 freshman Kacper Klaczek (Long Island Lutheran, N.Y.), who joined three-star guard Erik Reynolds (Bullis School, Md.) on the Hawks’ roster as newcomers this year. 

They’ll add to a group that returns last year’s second-leading scorer, 6-8 junior forward Taylor Funk (17.4 ppg/5.7 rpg), plus 6-5 sophomore guard Jack Forrest (10.4 ppg), 6-5 sophomore wing Cameron Brown (8.6 ppg), 6-4 sophomore guard Dahmir Bishop (7.7 ppg), 6-3 sophomore guard Rahmir Moore (4.1 ppg) and 6-7 freshman Jadrian Tracey (4.1 ppg), all of whom repeat their years of eligibility. 

There’s certainly still plenty there for Lange and Co. to build with. They’ll just have to figure out how to put the pieces together a different way. But there’s no doubt it’s a loss they weren’t planning on, and one that will alter the future course of the program.

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