CARBONDALE — Former SIU forward Sam Shafer is headed to Albany, according to a tweet from the redshirt freshman Saturday.
Shafer, a 6-foot-6, 205-pound right-hander from Frankfort, announced his intention to transfer from the Salukis shortly after the school year ended. Shafer could be eligible to play for the Great Danes in 2019-20.
"I would like to thank the former and current staff at SIU for everything they have done for me," Shafer tweeted. "Also, thanks for everyone that has been supporting me throughout this process. With this being said, I will be transferring to University of Albany to further my academic and athletic career."
Shafer scored 1,293 career points at Lincoln Way-East High School and could be taller than 6-6 when he takes the court, as he's still growing. He led his high school to its best record ever (23-6) as a senior, which included the program's first regional title.
Albany went 12-20 overall last season and 7-9 in the America East Conference. The Great Danes could return 13 of 15 players from last season, including sophomore guard Cameron Henly. Henly, the team's leading scorer last season at 16 points per game, was a finalist for the Kyle Macy Award that goes to the top freshman in the country.
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Shafer is the fifth Saluki to find a new home this spring. Sophomore guard Darius Beane, who played in all 32 games as a true freshman last season, is the only one who hasn't found a new school for the upcoming school year.
Redshirt freshman forward Amadou Fall is headed to Three Rivers (Missouri) Community College, walk-on guard David Swedura transferred to juco Triton College, and incoming freshman recruit Jimmy Beane signed with Palm Beach (Florida) State College. Evan Taylor, an incoming freshman from Glenbard West High School, got his release from SIU and signed with Lehigh. He is expected to be eligible for four years beginning this winter.
Forward Sekou Dembele, who redshirted along with Shafer and Fall, remained with the team. Lance Jones, an all-state guard from Evanston Township High School, signed with the Salukis during Barry Hinson's tenure and remained with the squad. Junior forward Brendon Gooch and senior guards Aaron Cook and Eric McGill are also back. Cook and McGill are the team's only returning starters.
New coach Bryan Mullins signed six players in the spring, and has two scholarships left. Incoming freshman forward Chris Payton, one of the top-ranked players in Illinois who signed during the Hinson era, will not be with the team this season, according to Mullins. That gives the Salukis seven newcomers, six of which could be eligible this winter. Forward Malik William, a transfer from Clemson that redshirted last season primarily because of a concussion suffered early in the year, could be eligible right away if he gets a waiver from the NCAA.
Center Barret Benson is a graduate transfer from Northwestern that gives SIU immediate experience in the middle. Mullins and his staff also signed junior college guard Harwin Francois (Daytona State College), freshman guard Trent Brown (Pinnacle High School in Arizona), freshman forward Marcus Domask (Waupun High School in Wisconsin) and Eastern Illinois guard Ben Harvey, who will have to sit out this season.
On Twitter: @THefferman