Masinton-Bonner, James publicly announce they will transfer - What's next for Colorado State men's basketball?

In order for a forest to flourish, sometimes there needs to be a fire. Similarly, sometimes for a program to grow, there must be roster turnover.

On Monday, both Anthony Masinton-Bonner and Deion James publicly announced via Twitter, that they will transfer out of the program. Including these two, the list of former Larry Eustachy players to transfer since Niko Medved was hired is now up to six, but sources tell me there will be even more players leaving in 2019.

Although Monday’s news was unsurprising, as I have written multiple times these moves were coming, any kind of mass exodus tends to raise red flags to the general public. While it makes sense that fans would panic at the thought of losing another experienced player like Masinton-Bonner, especially considering Prentiss Nixon also transferred out a year ago after leading the team in scoring, the Rams will be better for this in the long run.

While I mean no disrespect to guys like “AMB”, Nixon or even J.D. Paige - all three are absolutely Division 1 guards and proved themselves at various moments over the years - the general lack of talent and leadership on the roster has been extremely evident since Gian Clavell and Emmanuel Omogbo went pro two years ago. In the big moments, this hasn’t been a team that could be trusted, and much of that has had to do with the lack of direction from the team’s “leaders”.

Not to mention, whenever a new staff comes to town, the odds of everyone clicking are slim. So, while Masinton-Bonner and Paige deciding to stick around for Medved’s first year likely helped the team win a few more games than if they would have left last spring, for multiple reasons, Ram fans shouldn’t freak out about the end of an era.

What’s next?

In order for Medved and Co. to truly get Colorado State men’s basketball back to its winning ways, finding players that buy into what the new staff is preaching will be crucial. Nevertheless, for this to happen, the staff is damn near going to have to rebuild the roster from the ground up.

Medved may have inherited one of the nation’s most outstanding rebounders, but aside from Nico Carvacho, this was an extremely inexperienced squad. Even worse, many of the players that were experienced were focused on putting up individual numbers and getting Instagram likes rather than the future of the program. As one coach told me this season, “It’s not a good look to see someone posting their highlights after a 20-point loss”.

The first wave of players, Kendle Moore and Adam Thistlewood, started the process this past season and the duo should benefit immensely from experienced gained as true freshmen. Medved raved about their maturity from day one and their drive to compete was certainly impressive for young players. Paired with incoming freshmen like David Roddy (Minnesota) and Isaiah Stevens (Texas), the future of CSU’s roster looks extremely dangerous in the Mountain West over the next three years.

Along with the young guns, Carvacho, Hyron Edwards and Kris Martin will give the roster a veteran presence in 2019-20. These were arguably the players that thrived the most in Medved’s first season as head coach, and it’s not unreasonable to expect them to do big things in year two.

At this point, the biggest question will be if CSU opts to sign a JUCO transfer or two to add depth to the roster. As it currently stands, the Rams are using all 13 scholarships for next season, but if Logan Ryan and Jack Schoemann end up leaving the program, CSU will have two scholarships to fill.

John Tonje (Nebraska) and James Moors (New Zealand) are each likely going to redshirt, while Dischon Thomas (Arizona), Roddy and Stevens will all presumably play as freshmen in 2019-20. With this in mind, it would make sense for the staff to find an experienced JUCO player that can come in with immediate eligibility. The Rams will already be relying heavily on youth next season, so finding a veteran forward to play behind Carvacho could make a big difference.

No matter how the roster shakes out though, it’s clear that change is coming. It may not be easy to see right now, but this transition is necessary because if CSU ever wants to flourish, it must first experience the process of the forest fire. The blaze began during Eustachy’s investigation and ultimate dismissal. Now, the final flames appear to be fizzling out with the latest roster changes. The only step that remains is growing something out of the ashes.