Joey Piatt (@joey_piatt)
There’s been quite a bit of moving and shaking in the City 6 over the last few weeks, with coaching changes, transfers, signings, and more. Here’s a roundup of the recent action on the MBB side:
Fran Dunphy adds La Salle basketball legend Joe Mihalich to his staff
Joe Mihalich is coming back home to La Salle, this time as a special assistant to head coach Fran Dunphy. Mihalich walked on at La Salle in 1974 and spent four seasons playing with the team before beginning a 17-year stint as an assistant coach. He left his alma mater in 1998 to take the head coaching position at Niagara University, where he led the program to several NIT appearances and a pair of NCAA Tournament trips. Most recently, Mihalich was the head coach at Hofstra University, where he manned the sideline for eight seasons before a stroke suffered in the fall of 2020 forced him to step back from his coaching duties.
Fran Dunphy (above) brought aboard old pal Joe Mihalich to help him get La Salle's program back on the winning side. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
"I can't tell you how excited I am to be back at my alma mater," Mihalich said in a statement in La Salle’s April 29 press release. "The opportunity to work with one of my best friends in the college basketball world and another La Salle alum, Coach Dunphy, makes this all the more special. I look forward to developing relationships with our players, coaches, and staff members as we work together to create a championship culture at La Salle."
Mihalich will join his son, Joe Mihliach Jr. in the City 6 coaching sphere, with the younger Mihalich serving as an assistant to Steve Donahue at Penn.
La Salle big man Clifton Moore finds a new home with Providence
After starting 48 games in his two seasons with La Salle, Clifton Moore will travel to his third school in six years as he’ll finish out his career in Providence.
A Hatboro-Horsham product, Moore started his college basketball career at Indiana where he appeared in a combined 24 games over two seasons. After sitting out the 2019-2020 season due to the NCAA’s transfer policy, Moore recorded 18 starts with La Salle in 2020-202, becoming a potent shot-blocking threat on defense and a versatile post player on offense.
This past season, Moore had the best season of his college career, starting in each of the Explorers’ 30 games and averaging 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Moore joins a Providence program that saw its 2021-2022 season end in a Sweet 16 loss to Kansas. He’ll join a Friars roster that includes two former teammates of his: Al Durham played with Moore at Indiana and Ed Croswell played alongside Moore at La Salle.
Pat Chambers brings Philadelphia connections to Florida Gulf Coast
The Philadelphia roots in Florida Gulf Coast’s men’s basketball program don’t stop with new coach Pat Chambers. The Episcopal Academy and Philly U product added several members to his staff with ties to the City of Brotherly Love.
One of Chambers’ first hires was Kyle Griffin, who arrived at Florida Gulf Coast after four seasons with La Salle. Griffin, who played most of his college basketball at Siena after transferring from La Salle, had additional coaching stops at a pair of Pennsylvania schools in Lehigh and Robert Morris. Chambers also added former Roman Catholic High School and Penn State University star Shep Garner to the staff as FGCU’s director of video operations. Garner was a three-time all PCL honoree at Roman and a 1,000-point scorer with the Nittany Lions.
Griffin and Garner add to Chambers’ personal Philly ties. After starring at Philadelphia University as a player, Chambers got his coaching start at Delaware Valley College and at Episcopal Academy, though he’s most known for his nine-year run as Penn State’s head coach from 2012-2020. Chambers also served as an assistant at Villanova and most recently as an assistant at La Salle.
Former Providence commit, Vanderbilt transfer find new fit with St. Joe’s
7-foot center Christ Essandoko is headed to Hawk Hill. The Paris native, who graduated from Winston Salem Christian (N.C.), was originally slated to enroll early at Providence, where he committed in October.
Billy Lange’s program was a late entrant into the race for Essandoko, and the Hawks weren’t in Essandoko’s original consideration set last fall. Essandoko was a key recruiting win for Saint Joseph’s, who return Ejike Obinna and Charles Coleman in the frontcourt but will benefit from Essandoko’s presence.
CoBL will have a full story up on Essandoko early next week.
Also joining the Hawk roster for next fall is Vanderbilt transfer Shane Dezonie. The 6-5 wing guard, a Tobyhanna (Pa.) native who played at Brewster Academy (N.H.), averaged 2.4 ppg in about 10 minutes per game for the Commodores, seeing action in 35 contests. He’ll help offset the departures of reserve guards Dahmir Bishop (FGCU), Jack Forrest (Bucknell) and Rahmir Moore (Wagner).
Billy Lange adds Linehan to Saint Joseph’s staff
John Linehan adds additional Philly ties to Billy Lange’s coaching staff, rounding out a trio of assistants that also includes John Griffin III and Justin Scott. The former Chester High and Providence standout built a reputation as one of the best defensive players in college basketball as a player. Now, he’ll return home to continue his coaching career. The former Arcadia University coach is eager to return to his Philly roots.
“It’s great being back home. I’m doing something I love to do. Traveling the world is great, but there is nothing like being home and near my family in Chester. I’m grateful for the opportunity Billy Lange is giving to me. I’m ecstatic,” Linehan told CoBL.
Find CoBL’s full story on Linehan here.
Temple adds Northern Colorado transfer Kur Jongkuch
In four seasons with Northern Colorado, Jongkuch progressed steadily, transforming from occasional starter as a freshman to a full-blown threat on both ends of the floor. This past season, the 6-foot-9 big man posted career highs with 318 rebounds and 26 blocks. He has also flexed an ability to score in the paint, averaging 10.1 points per game as a junior and 8.8 in 2021-2022.
He will join a Temple program that, in part due to injuries, was relatively inexperienced on the floor this season. Jongkuch entered the portal in March after Northern Colorado’s season ended in a semifinal loss in the College Basketball Invitational. The Ontario native is the first to join McKie’s 2022 class.
Villanova retains Daniels, Slater, and all three 2022 recruiting signees
While Jay Wright might not be returning to Finneran Pavilion next year, several key pieces of the Wildcats roster are coming back. Included in Villanova’s key returnees are 6-foot-7 forward Brandon Slater and 6-foot-4 guard Caleb Daniels. Slater started in all the Wildcats’ 38 games and averaged 8.5 points and 3.7 rebounds while Daniels was a key contributor off the Villanova bench, averaging 10.2 points per game.The Wildcats also retained all three of their 2022 signees, including five-star recruit Cam Whitmore.
CoBL’s Josh Verlin will have more on Villanova’s offseason and what it means for the squad that will take the floor this fall in an upcoming column.
Temple’s Quincy Ademokoya transfers to Kennesaw State
As a freshman, Ademokoya averaged 1.6 points per game in 14 appearances off the bench. This past season, the 6-foot-6 guard saw more playing time this season, and he enjoyed two stints as a starter. The first came after Khalif Battle suffered a broken foot in December. The Bloomington, Ill. native was relegated back to the bench, however, and did not return to the starting lineup until later in the season following a pair of injuries to Damian Dunn and Jeremiah Williams.
Ademokoya’s season ended shortly after that when he was suspended from the program indefinitely for a violation of team rules. His move to Kennesaw State will bring him back to Atlanta, the city where he played his final high school season.