DANBURY, CT - The Western Connecticut State University men's basketball team opens the 2017-18 campaign on Friday night when they open the regular season against The College at Brockport in the first round of the A.J. Buchanan Classic at Manhattanville College.
WestConn went 12-12 overall last year and 4-10 in the Little East Conference in Interim Head Coach Jason Harlow's first year after taking over for longtime coach Bob Campbell. The goal in his second year is to greatly improve and play team basketball, especially against Little East Conference foes and qualify for the LEC post-season tournament.
Junior forward Rashard Rodriguez (Trumbull, CT) is WestConn's leading returning scorer. He averaged 12.9 points per game last year, sank a team-best 46 3-pointers and added 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game along with 25 blocks and 20 steals.
Junior forward Aaron Samuel — a captain on Bunnell High School's 2015 Class L state championship team —averaged 10.3 points per game last year and grabbed a total of 139 rebounds and 30 steals. Samuel, who suffered an injury in the pre-season, will be expected to be a scoring threat when he returns to the line up.
Joining the list of returners is Eli Rodriguez (Bristol, CT), Evan Curtin (Portland, CT), Jonathan Mowatt (Waterbury, CT), Brendan Stewart (Kennesaw, GA), Fenton Bradley (Mansfield, CT) and Alain Maceno (Norwich, CT).
Eli Rodriguez has the most experience of that group as he appeared in 23 games and started eight of them a year ago. He averaged 4.8 points and 3.4 rebounds as a sophomore.
Bradley is the tallest player on this year's roster at 6-7 and 205 pounds. He is expected to be a bigger part of Harlow's plans this winter. Bradley averaged just 1.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 13 games last season.
Junior guard Tyler Rowe, who transferred into WestConn from Connecticut College after a team-best 15.0 points per game last year for the Camels, will likely be the Colonials' primary ball-handler.
Other experienced transfers that will contribute immediately are Geary McLeod (Meriden, CT) from Mitchell College, Jordan Grant (Norwich, CT) (Community College of Rhode Island) and Chaunce Dunbar (Windsor, CT). Shea Tracy (New Britain, CT) and Jesse Bambach (Yorktown Heights, NY) begin their collegiate careers after transferring to WestConn from Keene State College and Westchester CC, respectively.