When Nate Oats left Buffalo following the 2019 NCAA tournament the teams recruiting class dissolved, totally dissolved.
What was looking to be the best class in school history evaporated almost overnight. While Jim Whitesell and company did a fantastic job stitching together a solid class for the team it still felt like a real lost opportunity.
One of those players, Raymond Hawkins, followed Coach Oats to Alabama.
Hawkins did not have the season he wanted, some of it due to injury and some to illness. Whatever the reason he entered the transfer portal when the season was over?
Could Buffalo be on his radar?
Some good points against Hawkins came up on twitter, the main one being UB’s existing depth with Bigs and using a spot for Hawkins.
While he would have been a great addition last year this year not so much. With the guard heavy style the Bulls plays we already have to many Bigs Mballa Skogman Hardnett Bertram. Only way it could work is if Hardnett could play more of a Jeremy Harris role— Sports Talk Buffalo (@Sportstalkbuff1) April 19, 2020
On paper there is SOME sense to this.
Josh MBalla really grew into the role as the season went on. Brock Bertram had his best season ever and provided solid relief. David Skogman looked like a freshman, but showed potential last year and LaQuill Hardnett could be exciting.
But if you dig down just a little bit.
- Bertram is a Senior, next season will be his last with the Bulls
- MBalla played very well in the role but UB seemed to be “out bigged” in a lot of games last season.
- Hardnett, like Mballa, is 6-7. And an explosive player who can contribute a lot to the offense, especially if he’s not “the big” on the floor
- Skogman is still an unknown quantity, really showed flashes of greatness this year but even if he blooms into the big we hope having him AND Hawkins sharing the role of “Big” for Buffalo will help keep us from being outsized as badly as we were in 2019.
Jim Whitesell kept the system in place that he and Nate Oats developed, what we were missing this past season is a “Nick Perkins” type player who can counter the bigs from other teams on offense and defense.
Hawkins fills that role, and he frees up MBalla and Hardnett to play the four, helping with the teams size but leaving the baseline to the taller Hawkins/Skogman.
I’d say it’s a long shot at this point, scholarships are tight but Hawkins could answer UB’s “biggest” issue from the past season. I’ve seen on twitter that set to announce on the 22nd.