Most years we wouldn’t do a team likely to finish in last place this early in our previews but Boston College is undeniably intriguing. This is a team that has almost no one significant back from a four-win season.
What could possibly make them interesting?
Earl Grant, that’s what.
Or who for the grammarians.
BC has struggled since dumping Al Skinner after the 2009-10 season. Steve Donahue seemed promising but never really got traction. Same for Jim Christian, who at least found some good players but couldn’t make it work.
Donahue won 21 games in his first year but since then the Eagles have only gotten as high as 19 once, in Christian’s fourth season.
Those were the only winning seasons BC’s had since Skinner left. So how big is the mess Grant inherits?
Pretty big. Look who’s departed first:
- Wynston Tabbs - transfer East Carolina
- Jay Heath - transfer Arizona State
- CJ Felder - transfer Florida
- Rich Kelly - transfer UMass
- Steffon Mitchell - senior
- Will Jackowitz - senior
- Andre Adams - senior
What happens when you lose four starters off a four-win team? Well all of them were flawed, so wait and see.
Tabbs had injuries and later disciplinary issues, at least as far as Covid went. He has potential but never reached it.
Heath wasn’t awful but may benefit from better teammates. Felder has talent but didn't really develop. Mitchell was an admirable defender and rebounder but really had no offense. Kelly could shoot a bit - he gave Duke trouble - but is basically a one trick pony and kind a Shetland at that.
Still, they were the best players BC had and they’re all gone. The other guys were irrelevant.
So who does that leave? Well that’s definitely an issue for Grant. It’s an issue for us too because in spots BC doesn't maintain their Web site very well, but we think this is right:
- James Karnik - 6-9 senior
- Makai Ashton-Langford - 6-3 unior
- DeMarr Langford - 6-5 redshirt freshman
- Abe Atiyeh - 6-0 sophomore
- Andrew Kenny - 6-6 sophomore
- Jonathan Noel - 6-3 sophomore
- Justin Vander Baan - 7-0 redshirt freshman
The best returning players are the brothers, Makai Ashton-Langford and DeMarr Langford. James Karnik’s bio stops in 2020 but ESPN reports he played in 14 games last season. No offense to him but he apparently didn't make much of an impression.
Andrew Kenny is aiming to be a neurosurgeon so his major effort is on scholarship and good for him. But odds are he won’t be a factor on the team. We’re kind of pulling for Atiyeh because there just aren’t that many people of Arab descent in basketball and it would be cool to see him do well. So far though he’s not made much of an impact. He only played four minutes on a four-win team. So he looks like a practice player, at least for now.
Poor Noel barely rates a mention on his bio. There’s not a single descriptive word as of this moment as of this publication. Nothing! No wonder he looks so glum.
Vander Baan didn’t play much last season but he’s another big and someone, who at least for now, can at least help in practice.
- Quinten Post - 7-0 Mississippi State
- TJ Bickerstaff - 6-9 Drexel
- Brevin Galloway - 6-2 Charleston
The transfers could help, especially Galloway. He comes from Charleston with Grant so he’s essentially plug-and-play. He only managed four games last season due to a knee injury but he’s a good three point shooter and with the Langford brothers (we’re going with that for shorthand) should give BC a solid perimeter game.
Bickerstaff did fairly well at Drexel, pulling 24 mpg and putting up 10.2 ppg and 5.2 rpg. He shot 51.3 percent overall but keep him off the three point line - he hit a dismal 13 percent last season. Drexel wasn’t awful last season so he should be able to help. He’s also from a notable athletic family: grandfather Bernie was a long-time NBA coach and his uncle is too. If you were wondering, Bickerstaff comes from two old English words meaning beekeeper and landing.
It probably took Post about a week to learn to spell Mississippi and it must have been a bit of culture shock to go from Holland to Starkville.
He did play a bit and on a decent team, getting into 31 games. We’ll just have to see how he does. He is big at 7-0 and 240.
- Jaeden Zackery - 6-2
- Kanye Jones - 6-4
- Devin McGlockton - 6-7
- Gianni Thompson - 6-8
Zackery is listed as a freshman JUCO transfer which gives you pause when you read that but he gets the bonus year so that’s what happened there.
He was pretty good at Chipola and should at least provide some depth, maybe more.
Jones originally committed to Charleston and followed Grant to BC. He’s skinny but a tall guard. He may need to gain some weight to be effective - he just weighs 170 currently.
Could McGlockton surprise? Maybe. He also played tight end so he’s pretty athletic.He’s a bit of a question mark as a freshman but if he commits to defense he can build a role.
Thompson was a 4-star recruit and likely the best freshman. He’s 6-8 and gets raves for his character and intelligence. He’ll play.
So from the cheap seats it looks like the Langfords, Galloway, Bickerstaff and Thompson will be the heart of this team but there’s plenty of opportunity for other guys to step up.
Grant has a reputation as a defensive coach so anyone who doesn’t work on that end will probably sit a lot.
BC is used to losing at this point but pay attention to this: Grant’s freshmen are not. Those guys, with the possible exception of Thompson, all come from winning programs, and the raves about Thompson are largely about character.
We can’t say that BC is going to be radically better although that’s possible if everything goes right.
But we do think they will come to play every night and make you work your ass off. Grant has a chance to establish a Gary Williams-like identity for BC as a team of scrappers and fighters. If he can do that much this year, regardless of record, he’ll have accomplished something significant.