The year 2020 has led to a lot of quick and surprising changes for everyone, and it was no different for the Rhode Island men’s basketball team.
With a chance to play themselves into the NCAA tournament, the Rams’ season ended a day before their first scheduled game in the Atlantic 10 tournament. Weeks later, the team saw expected returners Tyrese Martin, Jacob Toppin and Mehki Long transfer to Connecticut, Kentucky, and Old Dominion respectively, leaving only four returning players on the roster.
The coaching staff immediately went to work recruiting players from the high school level and transfer portal to fill out the team. After six months, in which recruits were not allowed to visit campus, the Rams were able to finalize their group for the upcoming season.
Here are the newest players on the Rhode Island men’s basketball team:
Allen Betrand (Jr)
Ranking as one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the conference last season, the addition of Towson transfer Allen Betrand should add another element to the Rams offense for years to come. Last season, Betrand averaged 13.6 PPG on his way to All-CAA Third Team honors. He also shot 38.7 percent from behind on the arc. To put that in perspective, Jeff Dowtin led the team last season shooting 36 percent from three.
Head Coach David Cox via GoRhody.com called Betrand a “strong, mature guard with a powerful offensive game…[who] understands what it takes to lead a successful program.”
The team will have to wait to see production on the floor from him. Without a waiver, Betrand will be sitting out this upcoming season, but will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Ishmael Leggett (Fr)
Leggett was the first member of the class of 2020 to commit to Rhode Island last September. The 6-foot-2-inch guard from the nation’s capital played high school ball at St. John’s College, the alma mater of both Coach Cox and recent graduate Jeff Dowtin. Last season, he led the Cadets to a 24-9 record and the semifinals of the WCAC playoffs. In an interview with YurView’s Chris DiSano, Leggett says he prides himself on the defensive end and feels like he can guard anyone in front of him.
Malik Martin (Jr)
Rhody fans will get to enjoy another Martin for the next two years. The younger brother of Atlantic-10 Defensive Player of the Year and former Ram Hassan Martin, Malik chose to transfer to the Rams back in March. Last season with UNC Charlotte, Martin averaged 9.2 points, 1.7 steals per game, and was named to the Conference USA All-Defensive Team. Coach Cox is excited about his versatility and what he can bring on both ends of the floor.
“Defensively, his versatility will help us create matchup problems, as he can handle multiple spots on the floor,” Cox said via GoRhody.com. “Offensively, he has been a consistent and efficient scorer throughout his career.”
Martin was granted a waiver from the NCAA last month, making him eligible to play this season.
Tres Berry (Fr)
Tres Berry became the fifth player in this year’s class when he committed to the Rams in early April. He chose the Rams over established programs such as Auburn, Tennessee, Virginia Commonwealth and West Virginia The decision became clear after Berry watched the Rams defeat VCU on the road last January. The 6-foot-4 wing played grassroots basketball on the Under Armour circuit with B. Maze Elite under Bobby Maze, who is from the same area as Cox.
The coaching staff is excited about what Berry can provide on both ends of the floor.
“Tres gives us significant size at the wing,” Cox said. “He can shoot from the perimeter and plays with the type of defensive intensity we want on the floor.”
Jalen Carey (R-So)
Jalen Carey arrives in Kingston as one of the highest rated recruits in program history. Coming out of Immaculate Conception (New Jersey) in 2018, Carey was ranked 38 overall in the ESPN Top 100. After two years at Syracuse and a sophomore season that was cut short due to injury, Carey decided to enter his name into the NCAA transfer portal. Being one of the most sought after transfers in the nation, Carey committed to Rhode Island over the likes of Georgetown, Connecticut and Marquette. Coach Cox was thrilled when Carey chose Rhode Island and believes he can make his mark on the program.
“Jalen is a significantly talented basketball player who can make a major impact on our program,” Cox said via GoRhody.com.
The Harlem native has three years of eligibility remaining and will be able to take the floor for the Rams this season.
Mahki and Mahkel Mitchell (So)
With the Cyril Langevine-era over in Kingston, the Rams were in need of reinforcements to bolster their frontcourt before the Mitchell twins committed to Rhode Island.
“Bringing in Makhi and Makhel to the front court along with Jermaine Harris and Antwan Walker gives the program size and depth in the paint that we have not had in a long time,” Cox said via GoRhody.com.
Rated as four-star recruits coming out of Woodrow Wilson High School in Maryland, Mahki and Mahkel began their careers at Maryland, where they played ten and 12 games respectively before entering the NCAA transfer portal. The twins will look to make an immediate impact in Kingston, as the team learned that the duo would be eligible for this upcoming season after the NCAA granted them waivers.
Ileri Ayo-Faleye (Fr)
Ayo-Faleye was the last of the eight to commit to the Rams just last month. He was initially expected to complete a post grad year at Putnam Science Academy before he committed to the Rams. The 6-foot-7-inches forward, who likes to attack the basket, played grassroots basketball for the York Ballers, the same program that produced former Ram Four McGlynn.
Although he is not expected to play this season, the program is excited about his potential.
“In Ileri, we are getting a young man who has high upside. He is a late-bloomer whose physical tools have the potential to be off the charts,” Cox said. “Getting him involved with a college level strength and conditioning coach sooner rather than later, the potential is endless.”