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UPDATE: ISU's Avila, Larry, Kent, Conwell, Swope enter NCAA transfer portal

Apr. 9—Exhale deeply, Sycamore fans. And maybe shed a tear. Or vent frustration.

The list of Indiana State men's basketball players from the stellar 2023-24 team entering the NCAA transfer portal kept growing Tuesday and included all five starters.

Robbie Avlia, Julian Larry, Jayson Kent, Isaiah Swope and Ryan Conwell all entered the portal.

They joined reserves Masen Miller, Eli Shetlar and Lithuanian freshman Augustinas Kiudulas.

If all actually go elsewhere, they cumulatively account for 2,882 of ISU's 3,309 total points in the recently completed season.

Another 335 points belonged to the two players who've already exhausted their eligibility — Xavier Bledson and Jake Wolfe.

Miller entered the portal Monday, according to the Verbal Commits website, and Avila, Larry, Kent, Conwell, Swope and Kiudulas appeared in the portal on Tuesday.

Those entries follow dramatic changes for the program in the past few days.

The Sycamores finished 32-7 as NIT runners-up under former coach Josh Schertz, capped by a crushing 79-77 loss to Seton Hall in last Thursday's NIT Final in Hinkle Fieldhouse. On Saturday, Schertz accepted an offer to coach at Saint Louis University. Matthew Graves, who served as Schertz's associate head coach at ISU, was named the Sycamores' interim head coach, also on Saturday.

Also, assistant coach Antone Gray has left the program, ISU confirmed Tuesday, and is likely headed to join Schertz's Billikens staff. Also, a former member of Schertz's ISU staff — Zak Boisvert, who's been at George Washington U. the past two seasons — is expected to also be an SLU assistant, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported Tuesday. When SLU conducted a Monday morning introduction of Schertz as the 27th head coach in its history, Schertz was asked about how he would assemble his staff.

"Without revealing too much, I think I've got a chance to have a staff that will be as good as any in the country," Schertz said in St. Louis.

Also, the past season's ISU special assistant to the head coach, Rob Gardiner, has resigned.

No destinations had yet been declared for the ISU players in the portal, as of Tuesday afternoon.

The 6-foot-10 Avila became a national cult hero last season, thanks to his point-center style of play and distinct game-goggles. Avila ended up among ISU's leaders in several categories, averaging 17.4 points per game, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Avila also shot 53.6% from the floor, including 39.4% from 3-point range. Avila was ISU's lone first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference pick, and finished second to Drake's Tucker DeVries for MVC Player of the Year.

The 6-3 Larry served as the ballhandling, tight-defending guard and averaged 11 points per game for ISU this past season, while the 6-8 Kent averaged 13.5 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds. Larry, a Texan, has played all four of his college seasons at ISU, including for former coach Greg Lansing as a freshman. Kent transferred to ISU from Bradley prior to the 2022-23 season. The 6-3 Conwell averaged 16.6 points per game as a sophomore from Indianapolis Pike and a transfer for South Florida. The 5-10 Swope transferred from Southern Indiana prior to last season and averaged 15.9 points this season.

Conwell was named MVC Newcomer of the Year and also made the all-conference second team, after the Sycamores won the MVC regular-season title with a 17-3 record. Swope also was an All-MVC second teamer and All-Newcomer team choice, while Larry made the All-MVC third team.

Miller, a 6-2 junior from Iowa and 3-point shooting specialist played in 28 games last season. The 6-9 Kiudulas played in seven games, getting two points and 14 rebounds. Shetlar, a 6-6 guard from Wichita, played in 11 games last season, and totaled 27 points and 12 rebounds.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Kent thanked God, his family, his teammates, the Sycamore coaches and staff and the "unconditional support, cheers and dedication" of the Terre Haute community. He explained his decision, but didn't hint at a destination.

"This upcoming May, I will be proudly graduating as a Sycamore and will become Indiana State Alumni," he wrote. "With all of that being said, I will officially enter the transfer portal as a grad transfer. Thank you Terre Haute for everything you have done for me; you will forever be a second home. I love and appreciate the fans and community so much. Thank you for all the memories that were made in Hulman Center!"

Conwell issued similar thank-yous on his X account, adding, "After further consideration and prayer, I will be entering my name in the transfer portal. I look forward to considering all options."

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Avila expressed gratitude in the same ways. Then, he wrote, "With that being said, after much consideration, I will be entering my name into the transfer portal and look forward to the future. Thank you, Sycamore Nation."

In perhaps a bittersweet announcement Tuesday, Avila and Swope were named to the Lou Henson All-America team for mid-major schools' players.

Meanwhile at Saint Louis, much of the roster Schertz inherits from previous SLU coach Travis Ford following the Billikens' 13-20 season (5-13 in the Atlantic 10 Conference) has entered the portal. Six Billikens, including the top two scorers Sincere Parker and Gibson Jimerson were in the portal as of Tuesday afternoon, as well as top rebounder Bradley Ezewiro.

Players who enter the transfer portal could end up staying at their original school. Also, players can withdraw from the portal at any time.

Mark Bennett can be reached at mark.bennett@tribstar.com or 812-231-4377.