Big news in recent weeks has occurred for the UCSB men’s basketball program as Head Coach Joe Pasternack has reeled in another top transfer. This time it’s Ar’mond Davis from the University of Alabama, who will be immediately eligible as a grad transfer.
We’ve already seen the value of transfers for the Gauchos with this past season’s talents of Leland King II and Marcus Jackson, both essential pieces to the Gauchos’ bounce-back season.
UCSB is facing the biggest turnover of the top Big West teams, losing four of their top five scorers to graduation, while UC Irvine, Fullerton and UC Davis are all returning the majority of their top options.
The incoming freshmen recruits and the transfers will need to step up to the plate and support leading scorer and First Team All Big West guard Max Heidegger and the returning Gauchos if UCSB wants to continue building on Pasternack’s successful first season at the helm. Let’s preview the newcomers and what their contributions could mean for the Gauchos’ next season.
The 6-foot-9 forward from Mali gives the Gauchos a presence down low as rebounding is his biggest strength. He’s got the size to finish plays on both sides of the court with his ability to block shots and finish baskets.
Sow played for the prestigious Oakland Soldiers AAU squad, playing against top players around the country and holding his own. The physical big man should make an immediate impact for the Gauchos and could be a big part of the rotation.
Expect him and senior Ami Lakoju to hold the paint down for the Gauchos. With USCB a bit thinner on big men next year, it is possible for Sow to play big minutes.
The 6 foot 5 wing has the potential to fill the stat sheet for the Gauchos as he has great rebounding and defensive skills. He’ll need to improve his three-point shooting as that wasn’t really part of his game in his time with the Oakland Soldiers.
Pasternack should try to develop that part of his game, and he has been quoted as saying he believes Touré, “by his freshman year, he will be a knockdown three-point shooter.”It will be exciting to see if he can make that leap this summer and give the Gauchos another added threat from deep.
Nagle’s game is one of the most intriguing because he can give the Gauchos a new dynamic as a solid role player from the beginning. He’s 6-foot-8, shoots threes at a tremendous clip of 44 percent and he’s shot nearly 400 in his junior and senior years alone.
If he can play some defense, his offensive value should be evident from the get-go. UCSB was 220th in three-pointers attempted last year, and while they shot a great percentage, they did not have a guy who could just let it go at a high volume with a quick release besides Heidegger.
When Heidegger and Nagle share the court, the defense will be stretched out tremendously by their gravity, so I can see Nagle making an instant impact with his one elite skill of shooting the long ball.
Davis is the newest of the newcomers to the Gauchos for next season. The 6-foot-6 guard will be a grad transfer and will be immediately eligible next season.
He’s starred at Southern Idaho and was rated the No.6 Junior College player in the country after his first two years there. Since then he transferred to Alabama, where he played pretty well, averaging six points per game in 13 minutes per game.
He got injured before the start of this season and had to sit out, but if he can recover well, he should be a key contributor for UCSB.
While he was inefficient in his shooting in his lone season at Alabama, his shot has good arc to it and a quick release, and he was far more efficient at Southern Idaho shooting 45 percent from the field. Davis adds another wing to what should be a position of strength for the Gauchos’ next season.
Ramsey is a 5-foot-10 guard who transferred from the University of Nevada in 2017. He’s been on campus for a year already, so he should be used to playing with the team.
He was a top recruit out of high school and shouldn’t be surprised to start for the Gauchos, especially if Coach Pasternack favors Heidegger in the off-ball guard role he often played next to Gabe Vincent last year.
He should replace some of the Gauchos’ playmaking needs even if he does come off the bench. The Gauchos are losing over 10 assists per game from the graduating seniors, and Ramsey’s game favors getting his teammates the ball, even reaching nine assists in a single game at Nevada.
One other source of optimism for Ramsey is the success of former Nevada teammate King last year. If Ramsey can make half as much of an impact as King did last year, then the Gauchos should be very happy.
The Gauchos may look different, but don’t count them out for a similarly strong showing in Pasternack’s second year at the helm. Heidegger returns as one of the best gunners in college basketball and should be a strong favorite to win Big West player of the year after he was robbed of the award this time around.
While key contributors like King and Vincent are gone, Pasternack has rebuilt this team with a focus on athletic swingmen. Expect the Gauchos to have a quick, switchy defense and to be more perimeter-focused next year.
We know guys like Heidegger, Nagle and the other newcomers in the backcourt can hit shots from outside, but the key for the Gauchos to reach a high ceiling could be their frontline headlined by the freshman Sow and senior Lakoju. If they can rebound well and protect the rim, Pasternack will have a plethora of offensive talent coming back the other end.
A version of this story appeared on p. 6 of the May 3rd, 2018, edition of the Daily Nexus.