With more good news coming in from the NCAA, the reshaping of the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball roster is complete.
And the Rams have to like the finished product.
Charlotte transfer Malik Martin was granted a waiver for immediate eligibility on Tuesday, just a week after Syracuse transfer Jalen Carey, and Maryland transfers Makhel and Makhi Mitchell got the same news. A 6-foot-6 wing with strong credentials, Martin immediately becomes one of the most experienced players on the roster.
“Malik can impact the game on both ends of the floor,” URI head coach David Cox said. “Defensively, his versatility will help us create matchup problems, as he can handle multiple spots on the floor. He was the top defensive player on one of the best defensive teams in the country. Offensively, he has been a consistent and efficient scorer throughout his career.”
With Martin fitting in as the final piece to the puzzle, the Rams went 4-for-4 in the often unpredictable waiver process, giving them four potential major contributors for the 2020-21 season. A fifth transfer, Allen Betrand, did not apply for a waiver and will sit out the season.
Carey and the Mitchell twins are all former four-star recruits, while Martin was a Conference USA All-Defensive Team selection last season. He is the younger brother of former URI great Hassan Martin.
It was a winding road to this point, where the Rams can now consider themselves Atlantic 10 contenders. In the wake of the season’s abrupt ending due to the coronavirus pandemic, URI saw Tyrese Martin, Jacob Toppin and Mekhi Long transfer out. Together with the graduation of cornerstone players Jeff Dowtin and Cyril Langevine, URI would be losing three of its top four scorers and a total of 61 percent of its scoring. Depth had also been lost with earlier transfers by Dana Tate and Gregory Hammond. And star guard Fatts Russell had entered his name in the NBA Draft.
Russell withdrew his name from the draft in May, officially joining the returning core with Jermaine Harris and Antwan Walker, plus Jeremy Sheppard and D.J. Johnson, who sat out last season. URI picked up commitments from high-schoolers Tres Berry and Ileri Ayo-Faleye to join signee Ishmael Leggett.
The success on the transfer market came with a caveat. There were rumors that the NCAA would change the rule forcing transfers to sit out a year. When that didn’t happen, URI pinned its hopes on the waiver process and came away as a big winner.
Carey joins Russell and Sheppard in what should be one of the Atlantic 10’s top backcourts. The Mitchells are a boon to the front line. And Martin, with two years at Charlotte under his belt, is a versatile player who should set the tone at the defensive end.
Martin ranked fourth in Conference USA with 1.66 steals per game last season. He also was 15th in the league with 20 blocked shots. While defense was a calling card, he proved a capable scorer throughout his career with the 49ers. In 54 games over the last two seasons, Martin averaged 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 30.6 minutes per game.
URI is currently slated to open the season Nov. 10 against Drexel, though scheduling remains in flux due to the pandemic.