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MVC Basketball

MVC Basketball | Loyola running it back without Krutwig, Bulldogs add grad transfer guard

Cameron Krutwig wants to pursue a professional career, but Loyola’s men’s basketball team is bringing back four other outstanding seniors next season, according to a news release.

Guards Keith Clemons, Tate Hall and Lucas Williamson, as well as starting forward Aher Uguak, all plan on returning to Chicago for the 2021-22 season. Williamson was a first team all-conference pick and the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year for the Sweet 16 qualifiers. The group has helped the Ramblers win 99 games, go 56-16 (.778) in league play in the last four years, capture three regular-season conference titles, and earn two berths in the NCAA Tournament. The group was allowed to return through an NCAA rule passed in 2020 that allows everyone that played last season to return for one more year.

Former coach Porter Moser won’t be there to coach them after he left to take over Oklahoma’s program, but longtime assistant Drew Valentine was promoted. Valentine added three players to Loyola’s roster for next season during the spring signing period, which began in mid-April, Ivy League graduate transfers Chris Knight (Dartmouth) and Ryan Schwieger (Princeton) and true freshman Saint Thomas (Omaha, Nebraska).

Knight, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged double figures all three years at Dartmouth, earning second team All-Ivy League honors the last two seasons. The Ivy League did not compete in 2020-21. Knight averaged 14.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game as a junior in 2019-20 as a junior. Schwieger started 18 games in 2019-20, leading the team in assists (2.6 per game) and averaging 10.7 ppg., third-best on the squad. He shot 46.3% from the field, 37.1% from the 3-point line (46 of 124) and 87.2% at the free-throw line (75 of 86).

Thomas, a 6-7 forward, averaged 21.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game last season in helping Millard North High School to the state championship.

While SIU still works on filling its final roster spot for the upcoming spot, here is a quick look at what other teams in the Valley added during the spring signing period:

• Drake adds graduate transfer guard: Ayo Akinwole, a 6-foot guard from Omaha, joined the Bulldogs as a graduate transfer after competing for four years for the Mavericks. Akinwole averaged 13 ppg. and led the team in assists (2.9 apg.). He converted 45.6% from the 3-point line in 25 starts.

• Missouri State adds Valparaiso transfer, graduate guard: Donovan Clay, one of the best pro prospects in the Valley, left Valparaiso and joined Missouri State after the season.

Bears coach Dana Ford, a Tamms native, also added graduate transfer guard Jaylen Minnett from IUPUI and high school guard Isaac Haney.

Minnett (6-1, 180) gives MSU a proven shooter. He scored 1,403 points at IUPUI in 111 games and is the program’s all-time and single-season record holder for 3-pointers, with 285. Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Minnett started 14 of 16 games last season, averaging 16.4 ppg. and 2.9 rpg. He was the Horizon League Sixth Man of the Year as a sophomore.

• Tennessee State guard joins ISU: Former Tennessee State guard Mark Freeman signed with Illinois State and will have three years of eligibility beginning this winter.

In 21 games last season, the Memphis native averaged 17.1 points and 4.6 assists per game. The All-Ohio Valley Conference second team pick averaged 4.1 rpg. and led the league in free-throw percentage (81.7%).

Bradley adds 6-10 international center: Malevy Leons, a native of The Netherlands who led Mineral Area Community College to a 20-0 regular season, signed with Bradley.

Leons averaged a team-best 18.7 ppg. and 9.5 rpg., ranking 37th in the NJCAA in scoring and 25th in rebounding. The Region 16 Player of the Year shot 56.4% from the field and helped the Cardinals to the NJCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. He was the fifth player to sign with the Braves for the upcoming season, joining Maxime Ekono, Connor Hickman, Mikey Howell (San Diego) and Terry Roberts (Florida Southwestern State).

• Evansville adds junior forward, high school forward: Evansville added Antoine Smith Jr., a 6-7 forward at Collin County (Texas) Community College, and Elkhart, Indiana native Preston Phillips.

Smith was first team all-conference in the North Texas College Athletic Conference and the Region 5 Newcomer of the Year. He averaged 15 ppg. and 6.6 rpg. in 23 games, shooting 49% from the field and 36% from the 3-point line. He spent his freshman season at Incarnate Word, starting 14 of 31 games and averaging 7.3 ppg. Phillips, a 6-9 forward, was a big sharpshooter at Don Bosco Academy (Indiana), hitting 71% from the field and 43% behind the arc.

• 7-foot center from Wisconsin joins Valparaiso: Valparaiso added Wisconsin transfer Joe Hedstrom, a 7-foot center who battled injuries last season, and non-scholarship Preston Ruedinger. 

Hedstrom will have three years of eligibility for the Brown & Gold. He redshirted in 2018-19, appeared in only six games in 2019-20 before an injury cut his season short, and played in nine games last season. Hedstrom is Valparaiso's third incoming transfer from the Big Ten, joining former Michigan State forward Thomas Kithier and former Badger Trevor Anderson. 

todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com

618-351-5087 / On Twitter: @THefferman

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