Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
The Temple men’s basketball roster was a bit barren when Adam Fisher was announced as the Owls head coach back in May. All but four slated returners were in the transfer portal.
Before he started coaching his new team, the former Penn State assistant and his staff needed to put together a roster.
That’s what they did over the last several months before getting the chance to practice together in early August, looking both near and far to fill out a team they hope can compete in the AAC this season.
Temple men's basketball coach Adam Fisher brought in five transfers to help fill out the roster. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL File)
“We do a lot of homework on, you know, hey, here's how we're going to try to play now let's try to identify guys that fit how we play,” Fisher told CoBL via a phone call earlier this month. “And the staff did a great job. Coach (Chris) Clark, coach Michael (Huger), Coach (Bobby) Jordan, figuring out guys that came from winning programs, well coached, and it's been a great fit for the guys we brought in so far.”
Of the players who entered the transfer portal, Damian Dunn (Houston), Khalif Battle (Arkansas), Jamille Reynolds (Cincinnati), Nick Jourdain (Memphis) and Zach Hicks (Penn State) found new homes, but Fisher kept one big piece in place in junior point guard Hysier Miller.
Miller was the first big domino to fall this offseason. The 6-foot-1 guard from Neumann-Goretti, who averaged 8.6 ppg and 3.8 apg last season, withdrew his name from the portal back on April 11, six days after Fisher was officially announced.
“It all started with a guy who was here,” Fisher said. “Hysier Miller was kind of the guy who got it rolling for us, just to be able to have that leader on the floor, a point guard with Philly toughness, you name it, he has it. We were really excited that he decided to come back. I think he got everything going.”
Outside of Miller, 6-foot-7 junior guard Jahlil White (5.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg) was the only returner with significant experience returning, choosing to stay in North Philadelphia alongside sophomore guard Deuce Roberts, junior guard Shane Dezonie and junior center Emmanuel Okpomo, who were deep reserves last season, and his former high school teammate Taj Thweatt, a 6-foot-7 redshirt-junior forward who didn’t play at all last season after transferring from West Virginia and Coastal Carolina.
The Owls kept West Catholic wing Zion Stanford, the team’s lone 2023 recruit, committed and ventured into the transfer portal to round the roster with five new additions, getting some intriguing talent and players with experience.
“We want guys that can be able to shoot the three, it's important to us, but we need guys that, can handle the ball, pass, skilled guy that have some Temple toughness in them too,” Fisher said. “Finding those guys that are skilled enough to have the toughness to compete in our league.”
Senior 6-foot-2 guard Matteo Picarelli was the first addition during Fisher’s tenure at Temple, officially joining the program April 17, less than two weeks after he was announced as head coach. Picarelli averaged 10.1 ppg in 22.5 mpg in 32 games at UMBC last season, during a breakout junior campaign. He was the fourth leading 3-point shooter in the America East in both makes (2.1 per game) and accuracy last season (39.4 percent).
The additions of redshirt-freshman guard Quante Berry (Providence), junior guard Jordan Riley (Georgetown) and redshirt-junior forward Steve Settle III (Howard) were all announced in early to mid-May. Berry, a 6-foot-4 guard from Tennessee, was a three-star recruit coming out of Winston-Salem Christian School before not playing last season, so his addition is certainly one of the most intriguing for the long term.
Riley, 6-foot-4, was a nationally ranked prospect coming out of high school in 2021. He only saw action in nine games as a freshman but played in 25 (nine starts) for the Hoyas last season, averaging 4.6 ppg and 2.8 rpg, which included a season-high 18 points against Villanova. Howard, a 6-foot-10 player who can stretch the floor, brings with him the most experience of the transfer group with 61 starts over the last two seasons at Howard. He averaged 12.5 ppg and 5.5 rpg, while making 69 threes (31.7 percent) at Howard.
Fisher and his staff brought in another shooter at the end of last month to complete the transfer class. Senior 6-foot-5 stretch forward Sam Hofman brings 61 career games (48 starts) and 73 career 3-point makes (38.4 percent) with him from Houston Christian.
The head coach liked what he saw from his group this summer.
“I think the biggest thing is coming together as a team, so we’ve done a lot of things off the court to get to know each other and become a closer knit group, and I think that’s really been great for our guys,” Fisher said. “It’s been fun, exciting to get to know each other and I think it’s showing when we play together there’s a little better camaraderie. It’s all coming together..You kind of gotta learn to trust some of these new guys and your new teammates, and I think off the court did that.”
Here’s what Fisher had to say about the team’s five transfers:
Matteo Picarelli: “From UMBC, a well-coached program, can really shoot the basketball. High, high IQ, really a good passer. That was stuff that we looked for right away, which was exciting for us,
Quante Berry: “A guy who didn’t get to show much not playing last year, but on a team that won, competed in practice everyday. We did a lot of homework. People on our staff had a relationship prior when he was in high school, so he kind of fits how we play.”
Jordan Riley: “Jordan Riley is just like the ultimate glue guy, toughness and just does whatever you ask, and he’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around, so I’m excited he’s in our program.”
Steve Settle III: “A guy who went to the NCAA Tournament, had 13 points in an NCAA Tournament game. A well-coached team. He’s a winner. He’s always been a winner his whole career and his skillset and his size were off the charts. We were thrilled to have him join. He’s been a great addition.”
Sam Hofman: “He can really shoot the basketball, right around 39 percent. Really excellent rebounder, just plays hard, competes, has great experience. He fit what we were looking forward.”