Time to Build: GW Men’s Basketball 2023 Primer

Image Credit: Mitchell Layton

By: Abe Rothstein

What goes into the offseason? What should fans expect? Fortunately, I hope to have as many answers to those questions as possible. But, while the college basketball world watches to figure out who will be the next National Champion, there is a different focus in Foggy Bottom; next season. The GW coaching staff is in full recruiting mode only three weeks after a disappointing defeat to lower-seeded Saint Joseph’s in the Atlantic 10 tournament. 

The State of the Roster:

The conference tournament loss brought a harsh reality for the GW basketball team, which rode many highs to a 16-16 record. 16 wins and a season finish with a record of .500 or better is a first since the 2017-2018 season and marks many reasons to be excited about next year. With that being said, only three players remain on the current roster following a flurry of activity on the transfer portal. 

Players Enter the Portal:

A total of four players have entered the portal for the Buff and Blue. Senior F Hunter Dean entered the portal after a career-best season for the big man. Dean averaged a career-high in minutes, points, rebounds, improved his free throw percentage by 16%, and upped his field goal percentage by over seven percent. The loss of Dean is a painful one, as it had been hoped that Dean would return for one final year of eligibility during his graduate year. With an improved jump shot becoming a more prominent aspect of his game, Dean had his career high in points in consecutive games, marking the pinnacle of the improvement from the Louisiana native. 

In addition to Dean, Qwanzi Samuels, Daniel Nixon, and Noel Brown have entered the portal. Samuels saw only 7.9 minutes per game and, with only eight scholarship players, struggled to maintain consistent playing time. Off the court, several fans have coined Samuels as the “griddy king” as Samuels was spotted griddying during the GW fight song following several victories. James Bishop noted that Samuels was known as the dancer of the team and was a huge personality in the locker room. 

Sophomore forward Nixon entered the portal after only appearing in two games this season due to a knee injury. Nixon, a three-star prospect out of White Plains, NY, chose GW over offers from Iowa, Wichita State, Georgetown, Seton Hall, and Iona. Nixon played limited minutes under former head coach Jamion Christian in his freshman season and was not receiving much playing time before his injury. Nixon has a large frame and a lot of potential, which a team will likely be able to tap into in the transfer portal. 

Junior center Brown entered the transfer portal, ending hopes from many fans that Brown would become GW’s first four-year career player in years. Brown, who stands at seven feet tall, has the size to dominate opponents. This season, Brown improved his field goal percentage by seven percent and looked like he had taken a step forward in his development, but due to the incredible improvement from fellow center Dean, Brown only played 11 minutes per game. Brown, much like Samuels, was known for being a great teammate and well-liked around GW among the student body. Brown will look to capitalize on a fresh start. 

Will the portal entrants return?

As of now, it is not currently the expectation that the players in the portal will be returning, and the coaching staff is prepping their offseason plans with the assumption that they will not. 

The Graduates: 

In addition to the several transfers, several players will be graduating and do not have any eligibility remaining. Those players include Brendan Adams, Ricky Lindo Jr, Amir Harris, Theofanis Stamoulis, and EJ Clark. Excluding Stamoulis, the four players were key contributors to the buff and blue this previous season. 

Harris became known to be a defensive stopper this season and was impressive in that role. Harris, a former transfer from Nebraska, suffered through injuries during his time at GW and was never fully able to find his offensive game. However, his defensive effort surely made up for the offensive shortfalls and played a vital role this season. 

The coaching staff brought Clark in this summer after spending two years at Alabama State following two years of JUCO ball. He originally started the season coming off the bench and would eventually replace Max Edwards in the starting lineup. Clark was a fantastic compliment to Bishop but was injured during the MTE in Hawaii. He was ruled out for the season with a foot injury shortly after. Clark was a 44% three-point shooter, something that was longed for in his absence. 

Lindo, much like the other players listed on this list, improved his play this season. The former Maryland transfer averaged 10.6 points per game on a career-best 69% shooting. Lindo was a tremendous athlete and always excited the GW crowd with his ability to go sky-high for an alley-oop in transition or with his tenacious defense. His defense against potential NBA draftees GG Jackson of South Carolina and DaRon Holmes of Dayton was staunch and held them both to poor performances. 

Adams, in his final year of eligibility as he pursued an MBA at GW, exceeded every possible expectation. Adams, the winner of the A-10 Most Improved Player award, had career highs in every major category. Adams was the only player in division one to improve his scoring total by over nine points among qualified players. The guard, once a player who had never shot over 30% from behind the arc, was third in the A-10 for the most made threes this year and finished at 38%. 

The Waiting Game…

Of course, all GW fans are awaiting a decision from star player James Bishop, who led the A-10 in scoring, putting up over 21 points a game. Bishop was the first player in the A-10 conference to average over 21 points and dish out five assists per game since the 2003 season. Bishop excelled with Adams as his backcourt partner and had multiple games with 40 + points scoring. On several occasions, Head Coach Chris Caputo could not stop heaping praise on Bishop, throwing him out there with several great players coached by Caputo, such as former first-round NBA draft pick Shane Larkin. Watching Bishop this year was a treat for all fans of GW basketball, and everyone certainly is biting their nails. 

The returners: 

Let’s take a look at the current state of the roster: Keegan Harvey, Max Edwards, Laziz Talipov. Yep. That’s it.

Besides Edwards, who won the A-10 rookie of the year award, both Harvey and Talipov have been limited contributors. Talipov, a walk-on, rarely sees the court, while Harvey started to see more playing time prior to being ruled out for the season. Harvey, a center with a three-point shot, has a chance to make an impact in the upcoming season. Edwards, on the other hand, looks to make another huge impact after an outstanding first season. The neophyte stepped back into the starting lineup following the injury to Clark and proved to be a valuable piece to the team. My personal player to compare to Edwards is Josh Hart. Both players stand at 6-4 and have an uncanny ability to rebound, as well as anyone for their sizes. In addition to rebounding, both players are crafty when driving to the basket and in transition, highlighted this year by a 360 dunk against Saint Bonaventure. 

Where do we go from here? Let’s talk to the Director of Recruiting Matt Colpoys!

As of now, it looks like the team will have upwards of seven to eight scholarships remaining to give out for next year’s roster. With only three players (praying on JB!) and one being an established starter, Caputo and company will have a lot of work to do this offseason. 

In terms of construction of the roster, GW will likely be aggressive on the transfer portal. In an exclusive interview, Director of Recruiting Matt Colpoys discussed what the offseason will look like here in Foggy Bottom. 

With the number of scholarships the team has the ability to give out this offseason, expect there to be a large mixture of types of players coming in next season. 

“We want the right people that fit, who are skilled and want to be here and be part of this,” detailed Colpoys, who is in his first offseason at GW. 

The hope is the prospective transfers will be with the team for the long term and help rebuild the once-storied program. A challenge for the staff is the sheer amount of spots to be filled on the team, so let’s explore the outlook position by position. 


With the future of Bishop up in the air and the lack of veteran experience on the team, GW will look for a mixture of players with multiple years of eligibility and guys with experience. Fortunately, GW has three guard recruits on the way to Foggy Bottom over the summer. 

 “The Freshmen (Jacoi Hutchinson, Trey Autry, and Christian Jones) can and we’re hoping and expecting to play some, but we need to bring in an older guard who is proven at the college level that is ready to start next to James Bishop,” Colpoys concluded. 

In addition, the graduation of Adams leaves almost 35 minutes of playing time available per game. Colpoys said that this position does not need to be filled by any one person but rather by somebody who can play with Bishop for 25 minutes and someone else to supplement with similar per/40 minutes stats. This emphasizes the depth needed, which is a theme they certainly will continue to hammer. 

The inclusion of JB in future plans may indicate that the staff thinks Bishop may decide a certain way but expect some veteran guards on the transfer portal whether or not Bishop decides to leave. Specifically, guards who can create off the dribble in the modern pick-and-roll style that Caputo runs. The team wants to build up depth, which the lack of it greatly hurt the team this year. 


This will be interesting to see pan out and where he will be playing next year, but Edwards, listed as a guard, excelled in playing the three last year for GW. As of now, there is no indication as to if he will remain in the position, but for the sake of this exercise, I’m slotting Max in at the three. 

Of course, GW is looking for guys who can shoot the ball from the perimeter at an efficient rate. For a team that was in the bottom tier of the NCAA in three-point shooting, the entire staff has emphasized the guys who have the ability to catch and shoot, which will greatly open up the floor during pick-and-roll sets. 

With Lindo on his way out, the team needs both a new PF and C. With whoever they bring in, Colpoys talked about what the staff is looking for out of a power forward, “We’re looking in a lot of different directions. Hoping to have lineup versatility, similar to Ricky Lindo, a great finisher, someone who can space the floor,” said Colpoys. 

Versatility is a term that I see as the ability to play on the perimeter rather than crowding the paint, which was an issue with non-shooters on the team. I would expect at least two players who can fill the PF position with the ability to size up and play the five when needed to maximize the GW offense. 

Dean leaving surprised many, and the team also must look to fill an extremely important position. Harvey remains on the roster and can knock one down from long-range, but he remains a question mark regarding injury recovery. 

“We are looking for a five, emphasizing ball screen coverage like Coach tries to use best. Guys who play different ways,” Colpoys explained. 

The ability to guard guards on the perimeter is important as teams look to exploit mismatches. In addition, shooting from a big man adds a ton to the GW offense. These players that they bring in at this position won’t be the same but look for the team to bring in a center that can focus on the defensive end and rebound, while one may be more of a shooter. All ways in which to maximize the versatility of this team. 

As I had touched upon earlier, there will be a mix of both veterans and neophytes on this team. Expect to see some players of the same mold as  Edwards this year, someone who redshirted and maintained many years of eligibility.

A player who fits this mold is Virginia Tech transfer, Darren Buchanan. The DC product redshirted his first year and had GW on his final list prior to committing to VT. GW is rumored to have an interest in the young guard. 

In addition to the portal, GW still is looking to the high school ranks and has some offers still on the table, according to 247 Sports. The staff in Foggy Bottom is looking for an international frontcourt player if that route works out. Time will tell whether or not GW is successful, but Colpoys and the staff understand the value of international recruiting. 

“GW is a great place for an international player to be. Historically, our best players such as Yinka Dare, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, and Yuta Wantanabe. So we’re exploring that,” said Colpoys. 

HS Recruits: 

This fall, GW signed three high school guards who are set to be playing in Foggy Bottom next year. DMV local Jacoi Hutchinson, Our Savior Lutheran HS player and former teammate of Edwards, Christian Jones, and Trey Autry. All three players are expected to fill important roles for GW. 

I had a chance to speak with Autry, who is currently finishing his final year at Western Reserve Academy in Ohio. Autry chose GW over schools such as Maryland and UMass. 

For Autry, he describes himself as “fierce, I have a competitive motor, I’m a hard worker, I bring shooting and scoring in general, but I think I’m pretty smart so I can impact the game in many ways.”

Notably, in the Autry family, his father, Adrian Autry, was named the successor to Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, which is undoubtedly a huge job in the college basketball world. Being born into a basketball family has prepared him for a lot and has helped him as a player. 

“Knowing different situations, I’ve been watching basketball for so long… getting information from my dad, his dad, his friends, my HS coaches,” Autry continued, “being around the game can help you in a lot of moments whether it’s late in the game, early game, or even preparing for the game, you gain a lot of knowledge just being around it.”

Autry has spent some time reaching out to his future backcourt mates Hutchinson and Jones. The future Revolutionaries (fingers crossed) have a group chat along with the coaches where they maintain regular contact. Although Autry could not make it to the Smith Center this year, he regularly watched GW games in his dorm room. 

In addition to Autry, GW also has preferred walk-on Luke Cronin joining the program. Cronin, who attends one of my father’s rival high schools in Great Neck, Great Neck North in Long Island, chose GW over an offer from Manhattan College. Cronin has the ability to stretch the floor from the four-position, and with the number of question marks on the current roster, he could be a surprise contributor. 

In the coming weeks, things will pick up around the team. They have recently completed or scheduled multiple zoom visits with potential members of the Buff and Blue, and you could see the coaching staff with some recruits around campus. This will certainly be a busy offseason as the coaching staff looks to bring winning back to Foggy Bottom. 

One response

  1. Justin Plunkett Avatar
    Justin Plunkett

    Well written article!

    On the international front, they should look at Yegor’s old game tape. A forward who could shoot, move, and support the paint. A style of game that would support Caputo’s scheme.

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