On Wednesday, July 1, the newest member of the America East conference will officially become a member. NJIT has been with the A-SUN league for the past decade. They will leave there and begin their association with America East. We take a look at the men’s basketball team and what they will add to the league.
Last season in the A-SUN, the Highlanders. led by head coach Brian Kennedy went 6-10 in league play and 9-21 overall. They had a tough time on the road one year ago going 4-14 while playing to a 5-7 record at home. In their non-conference play, they faced two of their newest opponents losing to both Binghamton and UMass Lowell.
The team will bring back nine members of last year’s team and add four new players. They will be two new recruits and two transfer students. As the record would suggest, the defense was a bit of a problem for the Highlanders. On average, they gave up 68 points per game and allowed teams to shoot at a 44% clip. From three-point range, opponents were knocking down shots at a 34% rate. They were not a very good rebounding team either, with a rebound margin rate of minus 2.8.
So coach Kennedy went to work trying to improve his team before the move to its new league became official. The two transfer students are both junior college players. First, there is Miles Coleman, a six-foot six-inch wing player from Indian River State College in Florida. In Coleman’s one year at the school, he averaged 18.8 points per game while helping his team to an overall record of 22-8. He was named the 2019-20 Southern Conference Player of the Year. He was also an NJCAA Division 1 Honorable Mention All-American. Coleman plans to study biology in the classroom this fall. He comes to NJIT with two years remaining. Dylan O’Hearn is a six-four guard out of Western Oklahoma State College. He played two seasons at the school. He ranked 13th in scoring a season ago (23.1 PPG), shot, 50% from the field, 40% from deep, and 80% from the free-throw line. O’Hearn was an NJCAA Division 1 All-Region honoree and plans with his two years left to study either history or communications at the school.
Back in the fall, Kennedy announced two signings to his program. Adetokunbo “Tokes” Bakare and Mekhi Grey were added. Bakare is a local product who played at St. Benedict Prep this spring. He is a six-foot three-inch guard considered to be a talented shooter who has been well-coached. He has also become a role model for younger students at the school drawing praise for his willingness to help out off the court. Grey is a six-foot-four inch guard from Montrose, NY who is doing a post-graduate year at the Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, CT. Kennedy calls him “an electric player whose best basketball is ahead of him.” Grey played for one of the best high school programs in the country in Putnam as well as a very good AAU program with the PSA Cardinals. Grey is also a tremendous student in the classroom.
We will see what these players and this program, NJIT, bring to America East in the fall.