The upcoming 2022-23 season will be a historic one for the Stony Brook men’s basketball team, its first in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) after 21 years in the America East.
With an upgrade in competition — the CAA’s NET ranking among conferences was 14th of 32 last season, compared to the America East’s 26th-place finish — the Seawolves needed to upgrade in talent in order to perform well at a higher level. Their roster has begun to develop in the last few weeks as Stony Brook earned commitments from talents at varying levels.
Most recently, Sacred Heart graduate transfer guard Aaron Clarke announced on Saturday, April 16 that he will play his final season of eligibility out at Stony Brook. He averaged 16.0 points and 4.1 assists per game for the Pioneers of the Northeast Conference (NEC) last year while shooting 42% from the floor and 31% from beyond the arc.
For a second straight year, the Seawolves have secured a top point guard from the NEC, following the acquisition of Jahlil Jenkins from Fairleigh Dickinson for the 2021-22 campaign. Clarke was a Third Team All-NEC selection last season. His fellow Sacred Heart backcourt mate Tyler Thomas, who averaged 16.4 points and 2.9 assists per game, also announced on Saturday his transfer to Stony Brook’s Long Island rival Hofstra, immediately creating a narrative for next year’s Battle of Long Island.
Clarke chose Stony Brook over other schools that showed interest in him, including Ohio (led by former Seawolves head coach Jeff Boals), William & Mary (another CAA school), Albany (former conference mate), Rice, San Jose State and others.
On Tuesday, April 12, Cornell guard Dean Noll committed to Stony Brook as a graduate transfer. Noll led the Big Red in scoring, rebounds, assists and minutes per game in Ivy League conference play and was named Second Team All-Ivy. For the season, he averaged 10.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45%, but he started the final 13 games of the year as a senior after making just two collegiate career starts before that point.
Noll was also targeted by other CAA schools such as Towson, William & Mary and Hofstra.
“I’m looking forward to competing for a CAA championship and learning more from such a great coaching staff,” Noll said in a press release. “I’m excited to join the winning culture at Stony Brook and can’t wait to arrive on campus and get to work.”
For 6-foot-10 forward Kenan Sarvan, a stint at junior college was needed before finding his way back up to the Division I level for the Seawolves. Committing on March 17, he began his career at Coppin State in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), where he was an All-Rookie selection and a three-time Rookie of the Week, starting 15 games and averaging 5.8 points.
Last year at Mineral Area, the Netherlands native shot 40% from 3-point range after making just 27% of his attempts at Coppin State.
“Kenan is a very skilled guy with size,” head coach Geno Ford said. “He is an elite passer and three-point shooter. We are very excited to add him to our program. His coach, Luke Strege, does a tremendous job getting guys ready for the next level and we are confident that Kenan can come in and make an immediate impact.”
Not satisfied with drawing from the transfer portal alone, the Seawolves continued to recruit out of high school. After a guard-heavy lineup last year, the addition of 7-foot-3 center Rocco Muratori back in November offered a stark contrast in stature. Muratori, who enrolled early and was seen on the Seawolves bench throughout the latter half of the season, came out of Florida’s IMG Academy, the same program that produced current NBA players Jonathan Isaac, Anfernee Simons and Dwight Powell.
Stony Brook added another young big man in 6-foot-10 forward Leon Nahar, born in Germany and coming out of North Carolina’s Asheville School, who also committed back in the fall. Nahar’s father Mike played college basketball as a center for Wright State and averaged 15.8 points per game in his final two seasons.
“With a father who played professionally, Leon understands the rigor of college athletics and personifies the work ethic you hope to find in your locker room,” Nick Whitemore, Nahar’s high school head coach, said. “On the court his upside is through the roof and he is a perfect fit for the offensive system that Coach Ford has in place.”
The last of the Seawolves’ current high school commitments is guard Toby Onyekonwu of Illinois’ Joliet West High School. Ford praised Onyekonwu as a three-level scorer and a skilled ball handler in the backcourt.
With six new faces currently pegged as new Seawolves for the team’s first CAA campaign, Stony Brook’s roster is beginning to round into form. Its top scorer from 2021-22, guard Anthony Roberts, declared for the NBA draft and will not return for a fifth collegiate season. The Seawolves’ second-leading scorer, guard Tykei Greene, also announced his plans to enter the NBA draft but will maintain his NCAA eligibility and keep the door open for a return, unlike Roberts.