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Filling Out the Duquesne Roster


As to be expected, there’s lots of holes to fill on the roster for Keith Dambrot. Who’s in, who’s out?
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Like with any coaching change there are plenty of moving pieces on the Duquesne roster right now. Who is staying? Who is going? Who will waffle on their decision for a month and decide to stay solely because they don’t feel like moving their crap a 1/3 of the way across the country? Right now, we know very little and what we think we know could change into something we don’t very quickly.

Here is what I’m certain of

NCAA men’s basketball teams can give up to thirteen scholarships
Keith Dambrot is the head coach of the Duquesne Dukes
Jamari Wheeler has received his release and is being heavily courted
Almond milk isn’t really milk, but it tastes fine

Here’s what I’m pretty certain of

Three players have requested their release (Mike Lewis II, Isaiha Mike, Nakye Sanders)
One player who signed a letter of intent might be leaving (John Walker)
Five players on the roster have not (Rene Castro, Jordan Robinson, Eric James, Tarin Smith, Spencer Littleson)
One player signed a letter of intent has not requested his release (Lewis Djonkam)
Coors Light is beer in the same sense that watered down Welch’s is juice that overprotective moms serve their kids

Here’s what is possible

Tavian Dunn-Martin (TDM hereafter)  is transferring in
Lewis is leaning towards staying
A buttload of 2017’s have been offered
This has all been a dream. Soon I’ll wake up and Matt Driscoll will actually be the coach

Here’s what is rumored

At least one current player may graduate and transfer
At least one more Akron player may transfer in

Here’s what could happen

One of the Mikes leaves, the other one stays
One of the members of Dambrot’s staff is hired as the next Akron coach thus shutting down the pipeline of transfers
@clubtrillion is hired as a replacement with the sole objective of recruiting the younger Ball sons to Duquesne

Convincing tweet of his intentions aside, we don’t know if Akron granted TDM his release without any restrictions, or if Dambrot accepted his transfer for sure. Again possible, maybe even likely, but still unconfirmed. For the purposes of this piece, however, we’ll include TDM as if he’s a Duke, but for the rest let’s work from the ‘pretty certain’ category or better. That means the rosters looks like this:

By Class Distribution


Eric James
Jordan Robinson
Rene Castro


Tarin Smith


Spencer Littleson

Freshman / RSing Sophomores

Lewis Djonkam
Tavion Dunn-Martin

By Position

Combo / Point Guard

Tarin Smith
Rene Castro
Tavion Dunn – Martin

Shooting Guard

Spencer Littleson

Small Forward

Eric James

Power Forward


Jordan Robinson
Lewis Djonkam

At this moment in time, Dambrot has six scholarships to manage and the team has some veteran presence with three seniors and one junior. Unless one of the freshmen stay, Jim Ferry’s mark on this club will be washed away relatively quickly. From a position side, the team looks to have some depth at guard now and next season. That will only get deeper if Lewis does in fact decide to stay. Center is OK with Robinson and Djonkam, if he honors his commitment. Not much depth, but there are a couple warm bodies there to help the Dukes weather a transitional year such as this one. The problem right now is the rest of the roster is laden with holes. While Eric James started a year at the three and I’m confident he can do it again, there isn’t anyone behind him unless counting walk on Kellon Taylor. Without Isiaha Mike or John Walker, there aren’t any power forwards. Keith Dambrot must be lining up a ton of 2017 forwards to visit right?

Not so much. Of the players offered or reportedly visiting, here’s how their positions break down.

Combo / Point Guard

Jermaine Jackson Jr.
Torrey Patton
Josh Colon (visit only)

Shooting Guard

David Collins

Small Forward

Power Forward

Nick Washington (visit only)


Jack Balantyne

He does have one power forward coming in soon in Nick Washington. It’s time for some real talk — I would not be surprised if Djonkam ends up somewhere other than the Bluff. Of course, I’d also be surprised if Jack Balantyne does not, so those two cancel each other out. Ideally you’d like to add one other center eligible for next year to the mix, but forward still looks thin if things work out with Washington. Given the rest of the roster, that’s also a very guard heavy list. Of course, Torrey Patton is 6’4” so he could be seen as a small forward with some playmaking ability.

Dambrot likes to run out a deep bench, but he doesn’t have lot of bench at this point. What we learned at the press conference is that Dambrot doesn’t like taking JUCO transfers, but that’s just what he might need to do to field a team for next year as well as balance out the scholarship. While I don’t think he is the ideal Dambrot four or five, Nakye Sanders staying could easily kill two birds with one stone. In one sense he could play a post-heavy power forward. On the other hand, he’d be a second junior on the roster. What would be even better is if Dambrot found a way to keep Mike as he seems a fit for his system at least on the offensive end. That could be a tall task as bigger schools will likely seek out Mike’s upside.

The head coach is hired and the press conference went off without a hitch or a last minute cancellation. However, the real excitement of the spring may just be starting as the roster takes shape. Dambrot will establish the direction of this program in both the short and near long term. It will be exciting to watch as he brings in his players to complement the returning group. It also remains to be seen just how many of the old players he’ll salvage. Things should move pretty quickly as his first week on the job comes to a close, but the drama still isn’t over.

About Steve DiMiceli (121 Articles)
Steve is a naturalized yinzer hailing originally from just north of Allentown, PA. He came to Pittsburgh to attend Duquesne University and decided to stick around after graduation. Steve is best known for his contributions to Duquesne hoops community as the owner of the Duquesne Dukes forum on Yuku and as the former editor of We Wear the Ring on the Fansided network. He is an avid Pirates fan, home cook and policy nerd. He is the co-founder of the Point of Pittsburgh. Easily irritated by people who misuse the word regress.

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