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Monmouth basketball transfer tracker: Hawks add Camden's Cornelius Robinson Jr.

After going 7-26, Monmouth basketball enters an incredibly important offseason, as the Hawks look to rise after finishing last in their first season in the Colonial Athletic Association.

As college basketball’s offseason game of musical chairs gets underway, with players flooding into the transfer portal in search of a better opportunity to play, win, or both, Monmouth coach King Rice has a lot of decisions to make about what his roster will look like next season, after getting off to a 1-20 start this season.

So check back throughout the offseason for updates on what’s happening with Monmouth:

Camden's Cornelius Robinson drives to the basket during the 4th quarter of the boys basketball game between Camden and Lenape played at Camden High School on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.  Camden defeated Lenape, 76-64.
Camden's Cornelius Robinson drives to the basket during the 4th quarter of the boys basketball game between Camden and Lenape played at Camden High School on Tuesday, January 4, 2022. Camden defeated Lenape, 76-64.

Hawks add Camden's Cornelius Robinson Jr.

After adding three players from the NCAA transfer portal, Monmouth picked up an incoming freshman when Camden High School’s Cornelius "Boog" Robinson Jr. announced on social media Friday night that he has committed to play in West Long Branch next season.

The 6-6 small forward played for a Camden team that went 23-3 during the regular season. He averaged 9.4 points and seven rebounds last season for a team considered the second best in New Jersey behind only Roselle Catholic., playing alongside 5-star Kentucky recruit DJ Wagner.

Robinson reportedly had committed to attend Albany last September, over Monmouth and Fairfield, before reopening his commitment earlier this seek.

Camden's season ended on Feb. 16 in a game against crosstown rival Eastside, formerly Woodrow Wilson, when a brawl erupted in second quarter of the Camden County final. On the play, Robinson appeared to strike Eastside’s Titus Bacon according to a report by the Courier Post, with Bacon retaliating, igniting the on-court scuffle. The game was cancelled following the incident, and both teams were withdrawn from state tournament by the school district.

Robinson is the latest addition in a roster makeover that includes the addition of graduate transfer point guard Xander Rice, son of head coach King Rice, sophomore guard Gabe Spinelli, a transfer from Evansville, and 6-10 graduate transfer Nikita Konstantynovskyi from Tulsa, a native of Ukraine.

Monmouth has had four players enter the portal in forward Myles Foster, having transferred to Illinois State, guard Tahron Allen, committed to Wagner, and point guards Myles Ruth and Jakari Spence.

Hawks add graduate transfer big man from Tulsa, via Ukraine

Monmouth has apparently added its third player from the transfer portal, with 6-10 graduate transfer Nikita Konstantynovskyi from Tulsaannouncing on social media Monday he was heading to the Jersey Shore for his final season.

He joins Bucknell graduate transfer point guard Xander Rice, son of Monmouth head coach King Rice, and Evansville transfer Gabe Spinelli, a junior guard.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane center Nikita Konstantynovskyi (12) shoots the ball against the South Florida Bulls during the first half at Reynolds Center.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane center Nikita Konstantynovskyi (12) shoots the ball against the South Florida Bulls during the first half at Reynolds Center.

The Hawks have had four players enter the portal in forward Myles Foster, point guards Myles Ruth and Jakari Spence, and guard Tahron Allen.

Konstantynovskyi, a native of Kyiv, was one of a handful of Ukranian athletes playing college basketball in the United States when Russian invaded Ukraine in 2022.

"It's so sad to hear once I'm on the phone with (family), like hearing all those bombs and like all those sirens go off every once in a while," Konstantynovskyi told the Tulsa World in late February 2022, shortly after the invasion began.

Prior to Tulsa, he played two junior college seasons at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, where he averaged 11.1 points and eight rebounds as a sophomore.

But he only played two games last season at Tulsa due to an undisclosed injury, playing just 11 minutes and scoring two points. This after he played in 27 games, making nine starts, as a junior in 2021-22, averaging 2.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, averaging 8.6 minutes-per-game.

He joins what an international frontcourt that includes 6-10 forward Klemen Vuga from Slovenia, and 7-1 sophomore center Amaan Sandhu from India.

Hawks add guard Gabe Spinelli

The remaking of the Monmouth lineup continues.

Having lost four of its players in the transfer portal so far, Monmouth appears to have added its second, with 6-2 guard Gabe Spinelli, a Massachusetts native who played as a freshman at Evansville in the Missouri Valley Conference, announcing on social media that he is committed to Monmouth.

Evansville's Gabe Spinelli (21) looks to pass as the University of Evansville Purple Aces play the Southern Illinois Salukis at Ford Center in Evansville, Ind., Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022.
Evansville's Gabe Spinelli (21) looks to pass as the University of Evansville Purple Aces play the Southern Illinois Salukis at Ford Center in Evansville, Ind., Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022.

Spinelli averaged 4.6 points and 1.6 rebounds, averaging 15.5 minutes for the Purple Aces. He shot 46 percent from the floor, and hit three of the seven triples he attempted.

Spinelli could step into the starting backcourt alongside Bucknell graduate transfer point guard Xander Rice, son of Monmouth head coach King Rice.

A 2021 graduate of Watertown (Mass.) High School, Spinelli averaged 20 points, five rebounds and five assists as a senior, while connecting on 65 percent of his 3-pointers. Spinelli then did a post-graduate year at the Darrow School (N.Y.).

He is the son of Scott Spinelli, a long-time college assistant coach respected for his prowess as a recruiter, with five of his recruits making it to the NBA over the years. He most recently was at Boston College, where he played, from 2014-21.

From earlier this offseason:

Jakari Spence enters portal

Junior walk-on junior point Jakari Spence is the latest Monmouth starter to enter the portal, having started the final 17 games ahead of junior Myles Ruth, who entered the transfer portal last month.

Monmouth's Jakari Spence drives against Drexel at OceanFirst Bank Center in West Long Branch on Feb. 4, 20233.
Monmouth's Jakari Spence drives against Drexel at OceanFirst Bank Center in West Long Branch on Feb. 4, 20233.

That leaves Rice's son, Xander, a Bucknell graduate transfer, as the only point guard on the roster for next season right now.

Spence, who helped Toms River North reach the Shore Conference Tournament final in 2020, played a season as a walk-on at Robert Morris, before coming to Monmouth for the 2021-22 season on a recommendation from Shavar Reynolds, who transferred in from Seton Hall for his final year.

He averaged 4.1 points and 2.2 rebounds last season, scoring a career-high 14 points in a win at North Carolina A&T, the first Colonial Athletic Association victory for the Hawks.

Starters Myles Foster, Tahron Allen flying coop

What now appears to be a compete overhaul of the roster is underway, with forward Myles Foster, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder last season, and starting guard Tahron Allen entering the transfer portal on March 20.

Monmouth's Myles Foster at the free throw line against UNC Wilmington on Jan. 26, 2023 in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Monmouth's Myles Foster at the free throw line against UNC Wilmington on Jan. 26, 2023 in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The 6-7 Foster, who averaged 12.5 points and 6.6 rebounds, has two years of eligibility left, as does Allen, who averaged 8.0 points and 2.4 rebounds.

Three Hawks have now flown the coop, with point guard Myles Ruth having entered the portal last week. Ruth was replaced when coach King Rice’s son, Xander, transferred from Bucknell for his final season.

Both Foster and Allen are eligible to play immediately and are likely to draw some interest.

Foster battled inside all last season without a legitimate center on the court. Without him, the frontcourt includes 6-9 starting forward Klemen Vuga, with two years of eligibility left, 6-9 forward Jaret Valencia, who redshirted as a freshman this past season, and 7-1 center Amaan Sandhu, who played a limited role as a freshman.

Allen had been starting in the backcourt alongside Jack Collins, named to the CAA All-Rookie team, and walk-on point guard Jakai Spence.

Xander Rice coming home

After entering the transfer portal after Bucknell's season ended, King Rice's son, Xander, who played for four seasons at Bucknell, will spend his final season of eligibility playing for his father as the Hawks' point guard.

Bucknell Bison guard Xander Rice (21) looks to pass the ball as Syracuse Orange guard Joseph Girard III (11) defends in the first half at the Carrier Dome.
Bucknell Bison guard Xander Rice (21) looks to pass the ball as Syracuse Orange guard Joseph Girard III (11) defends in the first half at the Carrier Dome.

Rice, who scored 1,076 points at Bucknell, averaging 14.1 points last season, is a significant upgrade for the Hawks at the point guard, with Monmouth junior point guard Myles Ruth having already entered the transfer portal. The only other point guard on Monmouth's roster right now is walk-on Jakari Spence from Toms River North, who started over Ruth during the second half of the season.

Rice had gotten interest from several high-major programs, including Clemson and Wake Forest. In high school, Rice played two seasons for Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley at St. Anthony, before transferring to Mater Dei Prep for a season, finishing his career at the Patrick School.

In an Instagram post, Rice said: "First off, I want to thank God, my family, my teammates, coaches, and Bucknell University. Without them I would not be the person that I am today. I also want to thank all the coaches who have recruited me throughout this process .... With that said, I have decided to stay home and play for my dad at Monmouth University as a grad transfer!"

Point guard Myles Ruth transferring

Ruth was a nice addition when the former Don Bosco Prep point guard came to Monmouth. It went really well early, with Ruth starting 14 of 20 games for the Hawks in 2020-21 as a freshman, averaging 5.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

Monmouth's Myles Ruth drives against Delaware on Feb. 2, 2023 in West Long Branch.
Monmouth's Myles Ruth drives against Delaware on Feb. 2, 2023 in West Long Branch.

After playing behind graduate transfer Shavar Reynolds last season, when Monmouth won 21 games, Ruth was back in the starting lineup to open the 2022-23 campaign. But junior walk-on Jakari Spence took over the starting job midway through the season.

For his career, Ruth averaged 4.7 points, shooting 39 percent from the floor, and 28.7 percent from 3-point range, and 1.4 rebounds, and was unable to eliminate the costly turnovers.

Who’s coming?

While the transfer season is just beginning to heat up, Monmouth is already beating the bushes in an effort to improve its lineup.

And the initial rumblings on social media provide some insight into what the Hawks are looking for.

Monmouth clearly needs shooters, having shot 40.2 percent from the floor, which ranked 340th out of 352 Division 1 teams in field goal percentage. The addition of Xander Rice will help, but the Hawks need a few sharpshooters.

According to the website The Portal Report, Lafayette graduate transfer Leo O’Boyle has received interest from Monmouth, and the 6-7 forward has proven he can score from the perimeter. Last season he hit 74 triples, connecting at 40.2 percent from beyond the arc. He has 188 3-pointers in his career, and has topped the 1,000-point mark.

Monmouth also needs to bolster its frontcourt, with forwards Myles Foster and Klemen Vuga doing a good job holding down the fort without a true center. Freshman center Amaan Sandhu (7-1) simply wasn’t ready to make big contributions in his first season.

The Hawks reportedly have interest in Butler transfer Myles Wilmouth, a 6-9 junior forward from Chestnut Ridge, New York who has seen his playing time decrease over each of his three seasons with the Bulldogs. He played in 59 games for Butler, with no starts, averaging 10 minutes-per-game.

Xander Rice isn't the only player who could have an opportunity to come home next season.

Former CBA big man Josh Cohen is in the transfer portal after averaging 21.8 ppg. last season for St. Francis (Pa.). Cohen has two years of eligibility left, but he signed on April 6 to play at UMass, after drawing interest from high-major programs after finishing 11th in the country in scoring, including a 40-point outburst against Hawaii, and 30 against Miami.

Keep checking back throughout the offseason for more on any moves Monmouth makes.  

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Monmouth NJ basketball transfer tracker: Hawks add Camden's Cornelius Robinson Jr.