Don’t expect to recognize many of the Rams that play at Moby Arena this season, as the CSU men’s basketball team officially lost three more players this week.
The team said Monday they will not renew the scholarship of senior guard Tyler Smith, retracted the scholarship offer to incoming freshman Stephen Franklin and announced that fellow incoming freshman Dont/ Poole will not join the team after failing to meet NCAA standards.
Franklin, one of the top prep basketball players in the state last year, was dismissed from the team last week after he was charged with identity theft earlier this month.
“It is really an unfortunate situation with all of them. With Franklin, there are standards of a program that you have to keep, so we had to pull his scholarship,” said first-year coach Tim Miles, who added that Franklin was planning to attend the College of Eastern Utah this season.
Smith averaged 10.7 points per game last year in his only season with the Rams, which was second on the team behind only current Philadelphia 76er Jason Smith.
The announcement of Tyler Smith’s release was not a surprise to those in the program.
“I knew that Ty (Smith) had been gone from the team for a while, since he wasn’t around this summer, but I was surprised at the other two,” said senior center Stuart Creason, who along with sophomore Ronnie Aguilar, make up the only two players returning from last year’s 17-13 squad.
Miles said he thought that Poole would qualify this summer while he was on campus playing pick-up games with the team. The coach added that Poole will attend a prep school for a year to improve his eligibility.
With these losses, it is not surprising that the Rams will be hosting a walk-on tryout next Tuesday, Sept 4, open to CSU students.
“We are looking for players who can contribute to the general welfare of the team,” Miles said. “That doesn’t mean we just want practice players who can play, whether it be practice or games. We did this at the other schools I was at, and I am excited to see what kind of talent is at CSU.”
Walk-ons rarely get extended playing time, but last year former walk-on Mark Collins played in three games and scored two points.
Collins said that anyone talented enough to make the team is in for a rewarding, but tough job.
“It is definitely hard at times. Going from being a star in high school to not playing at all is tough, but it is all about making the team better with hustle and defense in practice,” he said. “Then, in games, it is about pumping guys up on the bench and being the first one off the bench to congratulate them.”
Next Tuesday’s tryout is at 4 p.m. at Moby Arena.
Matthew Pucak is a basketball beat writer for the Collegian and can be reached at email@example.com.