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Mid-Season Report Cards

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Introduction:

After a tough road trip for Boston College Men’s Hoops, the Eagles now sit at 10-6 on the year (1-4 in ACC Play). With 15 regular season games to play, and at least one ACC tournament game, the Eagles are now halfway through their guaranteed schedule. So, I thought that it would be appropriate to give a midseason report card, and give some brief thoughts on each player’s performance thus far. The Eagles have more talent on this season’s roster than they have had in years, but have not played up to their potential so far in conference play. After getting off to a fantastic 9-3 start, BC has hit a bit of a skid, dropping three of their last four. With some recent frustrating losses to Wake Forest and Syracuse, NCAA Tournament hopes are slipping away, and an NIT bid is no longer a given either. 

In this “report card”, I will evaluate Coach Grant, and the ten rotation players based on their performance this season relative to preseason expectations, as well as improvements over last season. Now, let’s get into the evaluations below.

Report Cards:

Coach Grant: C+

As mentioned in the introduction, this version of the Eagles’ basketball team has more talent than in either of Grant’s first two seasons. So, it was not overly surprising that they got off to such a hot start to the season. Grant had his squad showing flashes of tournament potential, however, the first five ACC games have left much to be desired. The most striking issue is the lack of late game execution. In four of their five conference games, BC had leads late in the second half. And to only win one of these games is far from ideal for a team that came into the season with tournament aspirations. Grant has done a phenomenal job of establishing a culture that resonates with fans, but some of his in-game habits leave much to be desired. 

Jaeden Zackery: B+

Through 16 games this season, Jaeden Zackery has continued his gritty style of play that he showed in his first two seasons with the Eagles. Zackery has seen a rise in offensive production, and continued his stellar defense. Compared to last season, Zackery is averaging more points, rebounds, and assists; averaging fewer turnovers; and is shooting more efficiently from the field. Zackery’s scoring increase is even more impressive, considering Claudell Harris Jr.’s ascension to the Eagles’ clear second option, and Devin McGlockton nearly doubling his scoring average from last season. 

However, Zackery saw his production take a considerable dip in the first four games in ACC play, averaging just 8.3 points on 26.3% from the field through these games. Zackery even went scoreless against Syracuse, his first time doing so in an Eagles uniform (not last season at Virginia Tech, when Zackery left early with an injury). But, Zackery did have an efficient 18 points against Clemson. So, despite the loss, hopefully this game helps Zackery return to his normal, gritty and efficient self. 

Claudell Harris Jr.: A

Joining Zackery in the back court, Claudell Harris Jr. has emerged as the Eagle’s most versatile scoring option. Coming into this season, there was a lot of mystery surrounding the Charleston Southern transfer. There were rumors of Harris Jr. dominating practices and scrimmages, but many fans had a tough time believing that the new guard would be able to replace the hole left behind by Makai Ashton-Langford. However, Harris Jr. has certainly exceeded my expectations, averaging 15.7 points per game on 49% from the field and 43% from behind the arc. Harris Jr. averaged over 17 points per game as the first option at Charleston Southern, but seeing his scoring translate to the ACC is extremely encouraging. If the junior guard can keep up his scoring and efficiency, he and Zackery would form one of the more dynamic back courts in the ACC. 

Prince Aligbe: C

Prince Aligbe has been one of the more confounding storylines for the Eagles this season. The sophomore wing has started all 15 games that he’s appeared in, but has struggled to find a role that suits him, particularly on the offensive end. Aligbe has seen slight increases across the box score when compared to his freshman season, averaging 6.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 23.7 minutes per game. However, Aligbe has struggled to shoot the ball, converting at just a 28.3% rate on shots not at the rim. But, when Grant goes small, and plays Aligbe in the front court, rather than the wing, Aligbe seems to find more success. 

Outside of efficiency on the offensive end, Aligbe provides the length and athleticism that is necessary to compete in the ACC. But as it currently stands, when Aligbe is played on the wing, teams just do respect his shooting ability, and it severely limits the Eagles’ offense. If you believe in regression to the mean, as I do, you would hope that Aligbe’s shooting percentages go in the right direction. If he can approach last year’s 27.1% mark from three, teams would at least have to guard him on the perimeter, which would leave more room for Quinten Post and Devin McGlockton to operate. At the end of the day, the reason I’m giving Aligbe a C, rather than a lower grade, is that he’s about matched his averages from last season, and has shown that he can be effective when played in a role that better suits his skillset. 

Devin McGlockton: A+

So far this season, Devin McGlockton has been an absolute revelation. Last season, as a red shirt freshman, McGlockton surprised everyone by playing his way into the starting lineup. Yet, he seems to have taken an even larger leap this season. The big man has gained more confidence working in the post, and has even extended his range beyond the three-point line. McGlockton is the Eagles’ fourth-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, averaging 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in his 28.4 minutes per game. Yet, in conference play, the sophomore stepped his game up to an even higher level. Through the Eagles’ five ACC games, McGlockton is averaging 15.6 points and 8.2 rebounds, highlighted by a 30-piece on Georgia Tech.

There’s not much to take issue with from McGlockton’s performance so far this season. Despite his increase in production, the sophomore big man has kept the same intensity on the defensive end and on the glass. If I had to nitpick one thing, it would be that McGlockton tends to find himself in foul trouble a bit too much, and that it can limit his time on the floor. But, other than occasional foul trouble, the Eagles could not possibly ask more of McGlockton. So Eagles fans should hope that he can keep up his level of scoring and efficiency. 

Quinten Post: A-

After earning the ACC’s Most Improved Player last season, Quinten Post seemed poised for an All-ACC type of season. And, in the very first game of the season, Post gave credence to the preseason hype, putting up a ridiculous 31 point/11 rebound/4 block stat line against Fairfield. Post continued to dominate out-of-conference opponents, including a six-game stretch where he averaged 21 points and 9.3 rebounds. 

After his scoring outbursts to start the season, Post began to see a slight dip in his scoring, but a noticeable increase in his playmaking abilities. Since the backbreaking overtime loss to NC State, Post has “only” averaged 12.4 points per game, but has also had three games with 7 or more assists. With the amount that the Dutch big man is doubled in the post, his ability to find the open man will be key to this Eagles’ team’s success.  

The only reason that I have not graded Post in the A/A+ is pure, unadulterated recency bias. Against Syracuse, for the first time in nearly two years, Post was held scoreless in a game where he did not get injured (see last season’s Georgia Tech game). Having the added context of the illness that kept him, Aligbe, and Mighty out of the Clemson game, it’s pretty likely that Post was playing through an illness against Syracuse. So, fans should hope that he can recover from his illness soon, and return to his dominant play

Mason Madsen: A-

Mason Madsen has not been shy about his physical and mental struggles from the past couple years. Last season, in his first with the Eagles, Madsen was struggling through an autoimmune disease, and his shooting percentages suffered for it. In the 2022-23 season, Madsen averaged 5.8 points on just 34.9% from the field, and 30.3% from three. However, after taking medication to address his disease, Madsen is producing more in fewer minutes. So far this season, Madsen is averaging 6.8 points on much improved shooting splits of 45.5% from the field and 48.9% from three. Madsen has had inconsistent playing time this season, but has played his role just about perfectly. He’s been taking open shots, competing on defense, and doing all the little things in his limited playing time. 

Donald Hand Jr.: B-

Last year, Donald Hand Jr. only saw 14 minutes of playing time before unfortunately tearing his ACL against Detroit Mercy. So, obviously, there was much anticipation to see what the Virginia Beach product could do over the course of a full season. The redshirt freshman has certainly shown flashes of offensive prowess, with six games of 9 or more points. However, after a tough five-game stretch, Hand Jr. has not been terribly efficient from the field. Hand Jr. is shooting just 36.5% from the field, but a solid 35.6% from three. The young guard has certainly proven that he can be a spark off the bench, but is not quite shown enough to earn a larger role yet. 

Chas Kelley III: C+

Chas Kelley III was rumored to be one of the Eagles’ best players in their European tour this past summer. So, personally, I was hoping to see a big improvement on his freshman year campaign, where he averaged 2.9 points and 1.2 assists in 14.7 minutes per game. Unfortunately, that big improvement has not entirely materialized, as Kelley III is averaging 3.9 points and 1.5 assists on 35.4% shooting in 13.9 minutes per game. These scoring splits would not be all that bad, if he wasn’t shooting 35.4% from the field and 25.7% from three. 

Kelley III has not quite had the production that he would have hoped for, but he did come up huge in some key moments this season. Against St. John’s, Kelley III contributed a season-high 13 points in the Eagles’ most impressive win of the season. And against Georgia Tech, Kelley III was a huge part of the Eagles’ comeback effort, contributing 8 crucial points. Kelley III has shown that he can be a key contributor on a good team, but is just waiting to make the jump to that next level. 

Armani Mighty: B

With the departures of TJ Bickerstaff and CJ Penha, there was a huge hole left in the Eagles front court. When it was discovered that freshman forward Jayden Hastings would redshirt the season, the bulk of the front court bench minutes fell to Armani Mighty. Many fans, myself included, were worried that Mighty was not ready to be a rotation player in the ACC. However, Mighty has proven that he can hold his own, for the most part, when he subs in for Post. Mighty is only averaging 1.1 points and 1.1 rebounds in his 6.1 minutes per game, but he has clearly added a significant amount of muscle, worked on his footwork, and improved on his free throw shooting. While Mighty is not going to be the focus of any opposing team’s scouting report, he has played his role as well as anyone could have reasonably expected. With another year of development, perhaps he can emerge as a more regular rotation piece for the Eagles. 

Elijah Strong: A

Last, but certainly not least, fan-favorite Elijah Strong deserves some love. The true freshman forward came into the season with very low expectations from the Eagles’ fanbase, and has emerged as one of the more beloved players on the team. In his limited opportunities, Strong has brought an infectious energy and hustle that fans cannot help but appreciate. Strong has only appeared in 10 games this season, and has averaged 2.8 points and 0.9 rebounds in 7.3 minutes. Prior to the last game against Clemson, Strong had only seen the floor for 2 minutes in ACC play. But, when Post, Aligbe, and Mighty were all sidelined with illness, Strong stepped up in their absence, putting up a solid 14 points and 4 rebounds in 28 minutes. When asked about Strong’s performance after the Clemson game, Grant gave a very thoughtful answer, calling the freshman forward a “winning player” and indicating that Strong could get some increased opportunities as the season progresses.  

Final Thoughts:

After a fantastic out-of-conference performance, a subpar start to ACC play has obviously frustrated the Eagles’ fanbase. Grant’s team has shown tournament-team potential, but bad losses are pushing the Tournament further and further out of the picture. Getting selected to the NCAA Tournament was always going to be a longshot, but it is difficult to see the possibility of Going Dancing slipping away so early in the season. 

Fortunately for the Eagles, there are still 15 regular season games remaining, and plenty of opportunity for them to flip the script. The Eagles clearly have the talent to be in the top half of the conference, but in-game execution and decision making needs to improve. If they want to keep postseason (NIT or NCAA) hopes alive, Eagles cannot afford to lose many more close games. So, hopefully the Eagles can step up in this upcoming stretch, which includes some extremely winnable games against Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Florida State.

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DiMauro: All in all, a solid year for BC sports

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If you are reading this, chances are your primary means of remaining connected to Boston College runs through athletics.

Oh, and we’ve been tortured souls, too, especially in recent years. We are idealists and fatalists, demanding yet forgiving, loyal and resilient, even if sometimes it feels as though we make the long trek up the cliff to Lovers Leap … only to get shoved.

All of which makes the sports year of 2023-24 a time to celebrate. Boston College did itself proud, no small occurrence given that in this unsteady (perverse?) time of expansion and realignment, schools like BC must always look their Sunday best, with no overt warts or love handles.

Women’s lacrosse, BC’s working definition of pride and joy, capped the sports season with the national championship Memorial Day weekend in Cary, NC. It was the program’s second natty in four years, a three-hour infomercial for the entire institution and more proof that, yes, it can be done at BC with the right coach.

Acacia Walker-Weinstein – you’ll note that only the letter “W” separates her from “Einstein” – not only hung a banner, but helped BC earn a distinction few other athletic programs in the country could trumpet. How many other schools made national championship games (both televised by ESPN) in two different sports fewer than two months apart?

Think about that one: Men’s hockey, during an otherwise memorable season, fell short in the national championship game. But the Sons of Greg Brown did the school proud all season. Not a bad accomplishment to see “BC in the national finals” on the ESPN scroll in mid-April (hockey) and late May (lacrosse). It’s hard to buy that kind of advertising, particularly when and if realignment and expansion happen again.

Football won a bowl game over a ranked team at Fenway Park, returns a dynamo in Thomas Castellanos and then made the splash of a cannonball, hiring Bill O’Brien as head coach. Three other women’s sports showed promise as well: field hockey (11-7, made the ACC Tournament); softball (30-24, made the ACC Tournament) and volleyball, which continues to improve steadily under coach Jason Kennedy, finished 19-13 and made the ACC Tournament.

Otherwise, baseball gets a pass as new coach Todd Interdonato assimilates to the ACC and establishes his culture; the soccer programs (3-9-5 and 3-9-6) were lousy; and I remain concerned about men’s and women’s basketball. Put it this way: Sure feels as though better players are leaving than are entering.

Off the field, “Friends Of The Heights,” BC’s Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) collective, grew massively, keeping BC competitive in a cutthroat environment. Friends Of The Heights also homered into the upper deck, hiring veteran athletic administrator Jim Paquette as its new Chief Development Officer. Paquette will advise the Board on overall development strategies, using his 16 years as an administrator at BC that specialized in fundraising.

BC’s overall cachet also made a splash on social media when Forbes Magazine named it one of the country’s “New Ivies.”

Based on its researchForbes, the century-old national business magazine, reported that American companies are souring on hiring Ivy League graduates, instead preferring high achievers from 20 other prominent universities – “Private and Public New Ivies.”

BC joins private school “New Ivies” Carnegie Mellon, Emory, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Rice, Notre Dame, Southern California and Vanderbilt. Ah, to be judged by the company one keeps.

One school year hasn’t produced this much for BC in years. And it’s significant. The idea now is to build, not regress.

Full disclosure: There are many things I still don’t like. I’m told Father Leahy neither attended the Frozen Four nor the lacrosse Final Four. It is disrespectful to the players, coaches and alumni to have a leader who acts as if so much about what makes BC great is beneath him. And we still seem to have these spasms of tone deafness, such as patrolling the parking lots like stormtroopers the day of the spring football game.

But 2023-24 was an encouraging year for BC in many ways. Yes, we always want more. But we were getting less for a long time. Not this year. A tip of the cap to athletic director Blake James, his staff, the coaches and the kids.

We pause now to enjoy summer and await Labor Day night in Tallahassee. Here’s to 2024-25, hollering “Mr. Brightside” again with the kids from the crowded bleachers.

Mike DiMauro, a columnist in Connecticut, is a contributor to Eagles Daily and a member of BC’s Class of 1990. He may be reached at m.dimauro@theday.com or @BCgenius 

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Boston College lands commitment from transfer Roger McFarlane

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Earl Grant and his staff continue to rebuild the roster, landing their fourth commitment from the transfer portal in Roger McFarlane out of SE Louisiana. The guard comes to the Eagles with one year of eligibility and posted an impressive 14.8 points per game to go along with 8.6 rebounds a contest. Additionally, McFarlane impressed with an early season matchup with Auburn, posting 25 points and 11 rebounds. The Fort Lauderdale native recently visited Temple before ultimately choosing Chestnut Hill as his final collegiate destination.

Additionally, McFarlane now becomes the third guard BC has signed through the portal, joining UMBC’s Dion Brown and Clemson’s Josh Beadle. Rounding out the transfer class is center Chad Venning out of St. Bonaventure. Along with three incoming freshman, there is now one remaining scholarship spot left.

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Roster Revamp: Kany Tchanda’s Late Commitment Nearly Completes the Eagles’ 2024-25 Team

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Tchanda Showcasing his Elite Athleticism for Sunrise Christian Academy

After a wild couple of weeks in the world of college basketball, with thousands of players leaving their schools, the transfer portal buzz has finally started to cool down. And the Boston College basketball roster has undergone some major reconstruction, even by today’s standards. The Eagles saw six of their key returners enter their name in the portal: Jaeden Zackery, Mason Madsen, Claudell Harris Jr, Prince Aligbe, Devin McGlockton, and Armani Mighty. And, in relatively short order, brought in three names to replace them: Chad Venning, Josh Beadle, and Dion Brown (and nearly one more that I won’t mention). However, after the flurry of transfers in and out, the Eagles were left with three roster spots yet to be filled. 

And earlier this evening, one of those three spots was filled, as Boston College landed a late Class of 2024 commitment from Kany Tchanda, a forward from Wichita, Kansas. The 6’9 forward adds depth to the Eagle front court, with some much needed length and athleticism. 247Sports has Tchanda as the 3rd-ranked player from Kansas, the 31st-ranked center, and 205th-ranked overall player for the Class of 2024. For reference, 247 gives Tchanda an 88 “Player Rating”, which would put him right between Chas Kelley’s 86 and Prince Aligbe’s 89. While recruiting rankings are by no means a reliable predictor of collegiate success, Tchanda certainly has the potential to be a contributor down the line. 

In his three years at Boston College, Coach Grant has shown a willingness to take on long-term projects in the front court. Most notably, under his tutelage, Quinten Post became an NBA-caliber talent and Devin McGlockton went from an unranked recruit to one of the better forwards in the ACC. But even freshman Elijah Strong exceeded his (albeit low) preseason expectations, and has many Eagles fans excited about his future with the program. And last season, Grant red-shirted Jayden Hastings, the highest-rated recruit in the Eagles’ 2023 Class, opting to give him a full year of development before trotting him onto the court. Perhaps Grant has similar plans for Tchanda, who certainly looks the part of the slept-on, high-upside forward.

With Kany Tchanda’s signing, the 2024-25 Boston College roster is starting to take shape, as they have just two scholarships remaining. Last season, the program opted to use just 12 of their 13 scholarships, so don’t be shocked if they bank on this season in hopes of a larger 2025 Class. 

For more Boston College Hoops updates, follow along @EaglesDailyBC and @JackPSeiberlich on Twitter, as we eagerly await the final pieces of the Eagles’ 2024-25 roster to come together. 

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