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Shay’s class complete; waiver waiting begins

Joe Avento • Jun 19, 2020 at 10:25 PM

JOHNSON CITY — The depth of the East Tennessee State men’s basketball team is going to come down to some decisions made by the NCAA over the next couple of months.

New coach Jason Shay just finished his first recruiting class by signing Maryland transfer Serrel Smith Jr. Now the waiting begins.

Smith, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, has two years of eligibility remaining but will have to sit out a year because of the NCAA’s transfer rule. ETSU will be asking the NCAA for a waiver in an attempt to get him eligible right away.

That same waiver is being asked for two other Bucs transfers, point guard David Sloan from Kansas State and forward Ty Brewer from Southeastern Louisiana.

Brewer seems to have the best case because his brother Ledarrius is on the team, having sat out last year after transferring to ETSU from Southeast Missouri State. The NCAA often grants waivers based on family situations.

In Smith, the Bucs are getting a guard who joined the Maryland program as a high-level recruit but could manage only seven minutes of playing time per game as a sophomore after averaging 12 his first year.

“Serrel has the physical tools to be an excellent scorer on our roster,” Shay said. “He had a reputation as a prolific scorer coming out of St. Petersburg High School. Serrel can play with the ball in his hands or off the ball, and he’s a versatile defender. He has a great feel for the game growing up in a basketball family.”

Smith’s mother Tamika Coley is in the Central Florida Hall of Fame. His sister Kamika Idom played at FIU. He also has a cousin, Jerica Coley, who led the country in scoring while playing at Florida International and went on to play in the WNBA.

Smith was a four-star recruit when he signed with Maryland. He scored a total of 157 points in two seasons with the Terrapins, who tied for the Big Ten regular-season title this season.

“I chose ETSU because they play at a high tempo,” Smith said. “They get the ball out and running, which I am accustomed to playing. That style of play allows the guards to have more freedom in the offense and I will have the chance to play some at the point guard position.”

During his senior year in high school, Smith averaged 29.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 while being named Class 8A player of the year in Florida.

Coming out of high school, he was ranked the No. 13 combo guard in the country.

Smith struggled during his sophomore year at Maryland, shooting 25 percent while averaging 1.5 points per game.

He is Shay’s third recruit, joining high school point guards Truth Harris and Marcus Niblack, who originally signed with Ole Miss.

Interestingly, Maryland signed point guard Aquan Smart, who originally committed to ETSU last fall.

Shay’s three recruits join a class that was signed before Steve Forbes left for Wake Forest. That included Sloan, Brewer, Northern Kentucky transfer center Silas Adheke and DeMatha Catholic big man Paul Smith.

Figuring out the waivers will go a long way in answering the questions posed to Shay with a team that will have a lot of new faces. Because of graduation and transfers, the Bucs return only one player who contributed significant minutes last season.

Patrick Good started 20 games and averaged 7.5 points. That’s more than half of the returning scoring on the current roster.

ETSU is losing 81 percent of its scoring and 80 percent of its rebounding from last year’s team that went 30-4 and won the Southern Conference championship.

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