When LaSalle basketball last made an impact in March Madness, the Explorers made the 2013 Sweet 16 and the city of Philadelphia did not feel the same kind of basketball electricity again until Villanova won the national championship this season.
With the addition of Arizona State graduate transfer Savon Goodman on Saturday morning, LaSalle probably cemented itself for a deep trip into the 2017 postseason. Head coach John Giannini already had a stockpile of nuclear warheads in high-profile transfers who had to sit out a year ago and a solid nucleus of returning players as well.
While LaSalle probably will not be playing Villanova in an all-Philly national championship game, they could conceivably make another Sweet 16 run again with these weapons. At the very least, the addition of Goodman makes the Explorers the prohibitive favorite to unseat another Philadelphia school, St. Joseph’s, as the Atlantic 10 champion.
Returning is leading scorer and 6-foot-5 wing guard Jordan Price (19.2 points per game, 5.5 rebounds), Cleon Roberts (12.9 points), Johnnie Shuler (9.6 points) and Tony Washington (7.7 points, 7.4 rebounds). All four had to play nearly 40 minutes a game because there were only seven scholarship players on the team. As a result, the depleted Explorers finished 9-22. The Explorers had three players who had to sit out a year before becoming eligible in transfers 6-foot-7 forward B.J. Johnson (Syracuse), 6-foot-1 point guard Pookie Powell (Memphis) and 6-foot-9 center Demetrius Henry (South Carolina). What those three had in common is they were all ranked in the national top 100 recruits coming out of high school.
Now add a 6-foot-6 forward like Goodman, another national top 100 high school recruit, to that mix and the Explorers could be by far the most talented team in the A-10. Goodman was a starter at ASU and averaged 9.9 points per game in the tough Pac-12. His 6.4 rebounds a game led the Sun Devils last season.
This team has Sweet 16 written all over it and, at the very least, should make basketball fun to watch at LaSalle again.