“Fire Baldwin” chants echoing throughout the sparse crowd at the once packed Panther Arena in downtown Milwaukee. Never thought those words would be coming out of fans mouths after landing a Five-Star recruit in Patrick Baldwin, Jr., son of former Head Coach Patrick Baldwin. An incredible offseason in 2021 as the Panthers had landed Baldwin, kept DeAndre Gholston, added transfers Samba Kane (San Francisco) and Moses Bol (UCF), and even landed commitments from Markeith Browning (Coffeyville JC), Jasin Sinani (Oak Creek HS), and Kyle Ross (Lake Central HS). The Panthers even had a former four star recruit Jordan Lathon from UTEP who was regarded as a four star recruit out of High School.
The stars were aligning with the Panthers for the first time in years, even after their miraculous run to the Horizon League semifinals, where they lost to eventual champion, Cleveland State. However, Milwaukee is going to Milwaukee. The Panthers endured their worst KenPom ranking in the Baldwin era, the team went 10-22, Baldwin, Sr. got fired, and Baldwin, Jr. entered the transfer portal and got drafted 28th by the Golden State Warriors.
The Panthers had eventually entered the coaching search and landed Bart Lundy, formerly of Queens University in Charlotte. Lundy comes in to Milwaukee after a couple of stints elsewhere, as he was an assistant at North Texas, Head Coach of High Point University, and even was a Director of Basketball Operations at Marquette with Buzz Williams.
Meet the new team:
Brian Taylor II (FR): One of Baldwin Sr.’s recruits who ended up staying committed to the program, Taylor is a 6-4, lean guard out of St. Louis. Before choosing Milwaukee, he held offers from Wichita State, Drake, Wyoming, North Texas, Bowling Green, Miami (OH), UMKC, and Saint Louis. Taylor is a strong finisher at the rim with great instincts on offense when the ball is in his hands. An above-average defender and a good body to come off the bench. He won’t see the court much if at all this year would be my guess, but down the line if developed correctly, could be huge for the Panthers in his later years.
Elijah Jamison (FR): An explosive scorer at the high school level in North Carolina, the 6-3, true freshman PG will see meaningful minutes this coming season if his defensive capabilities continue to grow. Jamison was 5th all time on North Carolinas all time scoring list with over 2,600 points. Talk about a player the Panthers need all four years, this guy has the potential to be a STAR in Milwaukee. He’s been an incredible scorer from all the levels, and while he needs slight improvement on the defensive end on ball wise, if he can get his mistakes taken care of on a defensive note, the sky is the limit for Jamison. The offensive attributes are already there and hopefully they carry over to the college level.
Zach Howell (FR): Sniper is what the team refers to him as. And yes, that is exactly what he is. Howell, a 6-5 sharpshooter and overall scorer from Springfield, MO. Lundy’s first recruit to come to Milwaukee, Howell will initially be walking on to the program. However, in my opinion, you will see Howell in many games this season making an immediate impact. You can’t not play someone who fits exactly what you do, and is extremely good at. If Howell and Jamison stay for the long run, when they are seniors, they are going to be a very fun duo at the mid-major level. Howell loves to shoot the long ball, and he is not afraid where he is on the court. It will go up and it will go through the net. He is an excellent scorer which will help Milwaukee tremendously in their very fun, fast paced offense where a lot of threes will be put up Lundy has stated prior.
Jordan Ratliffe (SR): Ratliffe, a senior guard coming in from Division 2 UNC Pembroke, is an very talented scorer. A do it all 5’10 guard with veteran presence should really help the Panthers out at the 1 or the 2 spot this season. Ratliffe is expected to be a starter but with Coach Lundy’s system who knows if he will finish games or start them or do both. Ratliffe started his career at VMI which is known for three point shooters.
Angelo Stuart (JR): Angelo Stuart comes in from Hutch (JUCO) and once previously played at Seattle U in the WAC. The 6’1 Stuart brings in vocal energy across the court and can be counted on heavily to nail the three point shot as he went 104-257 from downtown at Hutch this past season. Stuart is a projected starter for the Panthers and provides an immediate scoring impact from beyond the arc. Needs to work on crashing the glass and on ball defense.
BJ Freeman (SO): Freeman is an juco transfer from Dodge City where his head coach, Jake Williams, is now an assistant at Milwaukee. He ended his prep career at Moravian Prep in North Carolina. Freeman’s freshman stats are nothing to mess around with, as he averaged 13/3/2 as a true freshman. He is a three-level scorer and good at all scoring but will love to get to the rim. Freeman is also a very good passer and has good instincts with the ball and really won’t force any bad turnovers. On ball defense and speed will need to improve throughout the fall and winter and can be really successful as a Panther. I am projecting him to come off the bench.
Kentrell Pullian (SO): Pullian became the Panthers’ last recruit after the sudden move from Eden Holt to enter the portal. The 6-0 guard comes from Eastern New Mexico and averaged 12/5/3. I don’t know much about Pullian, but have heard through the grapevine that he is going to be a solid piece for the Panthers this coming season. He seems to be a very physical player and an incredible rebounder for his size.
Forward Ahmad Rand (SR): Hey Siri, play “Jumpman” by Drake. This guy is one of the most athletic players to put on a Panther uniform and he has not even suited up yet. The sky is the limit for the Oregon State/Memphis transfer who previously before those two schools, played under Jake Williams at USC-Salk, a JUCO. The lanky, 6’9 Rand will block anyone’s shot coming into the lane and will throw down some massive dunks this season for Panther fans. He is slowly going to become a fan favorite. Look for Rand to have some really special games for Milwaukee. Would love a consistent jumpshot for Rand to greatly improve his already special game. An all Horizon League type player, Ahmad Rand will be starting for the Panthers come November 8th against Purdue.
Jalen Johnson (JR): Jalen Johnson? Milwaukee? Unfortunately Milwaukee natives, not the Jalen Johnson we had dreams about 3 years ago. However, this Jalen Johnson is a very neat player and could provide a huge role for the Panthers. The 6-7 forward loves to attack the rim and work inside. He is a great inside presence for the Panthers that will be needed and can also provide a nice outside shot but will not take many 3 point shots. 90% of his shots will happen inside the paint but it will happen very efficiently. An Alabama A&M transfer, he had 30 points against Cincinnati and even earned All-SWAC honors this past season averaging 16 points and 7 rebounds. Johnson is not projected to be a start but will be one of the first to come off the bench.
Justin Thomas (SO): Justin Thomas, a 6-7 skinny player from Navarro College, is an incredible get for Milwaukee and will be huge for the Panthers in the coming years. An very interesting player as we don’t really know how he plays. A former Lundy player, he decided to go juco and earned offers from Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, and East Carolina. It seems to me like Thomas will provide athleticism off the bench and could very well start for the Panthers but it will be interesting to see what his game is actually like at a Division 1 level.
Keon Edwards (SO): Edwards, the once former top 100 recruit, enrolled early at DePaul, transferred, and then ended up at Nebraska last year seeing limited court action. The talent is there, as we all saw it in high school, and now it is a matter of putting it on the court at a college level for more than 20 minutes a game. I think this spot for a player like Edwards is huge to show what his game is really made of and I think he will thrive in this system. He is a great, athletic player that likes to shoot the 3, take his guy off the dribble, or get to the rack and throw down a dunk. Edwards defensively needs some work and his quickness could be an issue, but I am projecting him as a starter and potentially an All-Horizon League player.