What is Oakland bringing in?

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Photo Courtesy of TZR Sports

Greg Kampe has said in the past the main goal of the offseason is to win the transfer portal. 

He had his work cut out for him this year.

Oakland knew they were going to be dealing with graduations on the perimeter, with Jack Gohlke, Blake Lampman and Rocket Watts all exhausting their eligibility this past season. They also had a good idea that Trey Townsend would be succumbing to the portal wave this offseason, and that was exactly what happened with Townsend taking his talents to Arizona.

The Golden Grizzlies also had to figure some pieces towards the end of the rotation would depart. Tone Hunter, Mike Rogers, Aundre Polk, Evan Solomon all hit the portal, as well as Osei Price, who left the door open to a possible return.

It felt like Oakland was positioned well to achieve their goal of winning the portal, with Townsend not even feeling like a true portal hit after fulfilling his four year commitment and being open about his intentions from the beginning of the year. But then, starting center Chris Conway hit the transfer market. Conway also had spent four years at Oakland, but his entry was a surprise to many.

Taking all of this into consideration, Oakland certainly had to do some damage this offseason. Combined with the returners, the roster has taken shape into one that should be competing towards the top of the Horizon League once again. Let’s dive into who will be new to the Blacktop this fall.

A good place to start would be a guy who fills maybe Oakland’s only weakness last season. Jaylen Jones will step into the fold to play Point Guard for the Golden Grizzlies. Jones enters the program with three years left to play, after spending one year at Tennessee State. His freshman campaign was impressive, averaging 9.2 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game and 2.7 assists per game. The Ohio Valley Conference doesn’t release an all freshman team, but Jones would have certainly had a spot reserved for him. It should be noted that Jaylen will be joining his brother, Isaiah. This was certainly a factor in finding this kind of caliber piece. The Point Guard is listed at 6-1, and is rated as a three star transfer by 247 Sports. Looking a little deeper at his numbers, Jones shot almost 37% from three on over three attempts per game, but had a little bit of a turnover problem, coughing it up 2.5 times a contest. Jones has the potential to be quite the floor general for Oakland, not just next year, but in years beyond. He is a major key to this transfer class, as well as next year’s version of the team.

Losing a pair of shooters like Jack Gohlke and Blake Lampman left a gaping hole in the program that needed to be addressed. The first cog filling the gap is quite familiar with Oakland already, in Jayson Woodrich. Woodrich comes by way of in-conference foe Cleveland State, where he spent four years. This past season was Woodrich’s best numbers wise. He averaged 8 points per game to go along with 3 boards a game. He shot just under 36% from three on over five attempts per game, and that is certainly a quality that caught Oakland’s eye. Woodrich hit four threes three times against Oakland in his career, and averaged 12 a game against the Golden Grizzlies in his last five times against Oakland. Woodrich brings four years of Horizon League experience that includes playing double digit minutes a game on a back to back Horizon League regular season championship team that included one tournament title. Woodrich also made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and will bring plenty of IQ and leadership to Oakland next season. This upcoming season will exhaust his eligibility. 

Staying on the theme of replacing the tandem of three point shooters, Malcolm Christie is as interesting of an addition that Oakland has brought in in a while. Christie comes to Oakland for his final year of college basketball by way of Canada. He became a star at Dalhousie, making All-Canadian first team and leading the country in scoring. He averaged over 22 points per game and shot over 36% from three on over 11 attempts per game.

A career 38% three point shooter, Christie shot better than 42% from three off screens, something that should excite everyone familiar with a Kampe offense. Listed at 6 ‘5, Christie also possesses good length and athleticism that allows him to finish well offensively, and also should provide a nice fit in Oakland’s zone. It is hard to predict exactly how he will translate to Oakland’s level, but he should be penciled in as a starter (or Gohlke “6th man”) going into the summer, with the potential of having even more of an impact. Christie had interest from bigtime programs such as Illinois, West Virginia and New Mexico, before narrowing down a top two of Oakland and WCC member Pacific, a potential good sign he is a high-level talent. Trying to predict his impact, Dalhousie played an exhibition game against D2 Indianapolis last preseason. Christie put up 30 in 31 minutes against a team that was a 1 seed in the D2 NCAA Tournament. Dalhousie lost by 7. Pairing Christie with Woodrich, DQ Cole and Isaiah Jones should provide another very productive wing/guard rotation.

Oakland knew they were going to add some production punch on the perimeter, with Chris Conway expected back though, the inside presence was steady. Then, Conway followed Townsend into the portal. Enter Allen David Mukeba, Jr. Mukeba started his career in JUCO, but has spent his last two seasons as a member of the Summit League at Kansas City. Mukeba stands at 6 ‘7, and has a very strong athletic frame, weighing in at a listed 235lbs. This past season, he was hampered a bit by some health issues, and he was limited to 14 minutes per game. In that short time on the floor, his production was outstanding. He put up 7.3 points per game, 3.9 rebounds per game, and a block a night. The year before saw him on the floor for 28 minutes a game and had a stat line of 9.4/7.5/1.1, averaging out his career numbers to 8.2 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game, and a block per game. That is solid production already, but a boost in numbers could be in store as Mukeba jumps in as the day 1 starting center in a Kampe offense. He will be playing his final season of college basketball this upcoming year.

Kampe has always prioritized shooting, even saying “if you can’t shoot you can’t play” and this incoming class emphasizes that. Chang Hoth is a JUCO product out of Western Oklahoma State. Shooting the three at a 43% clip in his two year JUCO career on over 9 attempts per game, Hoth made the most threes in the country over the last two years in the JUCO ranks. Hoth is a guard that has been committed since October 2023, choosing Oakland over his other offers Kansas City and Bryant. Hoth’s highlight tapes show him with a solid handle, and an ability to get his shot off from long range. Hoth will have two years of eligibility remaining, and will not be coming to campus alone for this upcoming season.

Jack Hoth is Chang’s twin brother. The twins, originally from Minnesota, are listed as the same size, and are coming to Oakland both from Western Oklahoma State. Jack’s numbers are a step below Chang, but he could still provide a nice boost from beyond the arc. Jack averaged a touch over 18 points per game in his two year career, while shooting 39.7% on his 6.8 three point attempts per game. He had the same offers as his brother, choosing the Golden Grizzlies over Bryant and Kansas City. Jack will also enter Oakland with two years left of his college basketball eligibilty. 

Oakland continued to dip into the JUCO ranks, as Deng Majak will also arrive on campus from a JUCO. Majak, originally from South Sudan, spent the past two seasons at Indian River State College. The 6-11 big man averaged about 13 points per game and 9 rebounds per game during his Sophomore campaign. Those numbers almost doubled his production from his previous season, potentially showing a guy that is growing into a player down low. Majak is said to have rim protecting skills as well, which would certainly be a bonus to the zone Oakland deploys. With so much turnover in the frontcourt after the losses of Townsend, Conway, and Polk, Majak will have a real chance to make an impact in a Golden Grizzly uniform. He enters the upcoming year with two remaining years of eligibility.

In the age of the portal, Kampe has prioritized getting old, and staying old, over recruiting the high school ranks. What that should tell you is if Oakland is spending a scholarship on a high schooler, they think highly of him. Warren Marshall IV is from Brother Rice High School in Michigan, and could turn himself into a nice player for Oakland. Marshall is listed at 6-3 but may be a little taller, and longer than that measurement. The three star recruit (per 247 Sports) has physical tools that should allow him to fit perfectly into Oakland’s system, offensively and defensivley. Marshall choose Oakland over in-state foes Central Michigan and Detroit-Mercy. His role may not be defined right away on campus, but this is a name to remember when discussing the makeup of the roster as time goes on.

Luke Gelow comes to Oakland as another Michigan high school recruit, by way of Gaylord High School. The lefty guard averaged over 30 points a game his senior year at Gaylord, and has size that could project him as a D1 caliber player. The walk-on path recently saw huge success stories in Blake Lampman and Trey Townsend, so it would be unwise to completely discount a guy with Gelow’s scoring resume. 

Gelow will not be alone in his quest to make some noise as an incoming walk-on, as Nassim Mashhour will join the Freshman class this fall. Mashhour is a guard who led Dearborn High School to an undefeated regular season as a senior, while leading the team in many categories. He scored over 1000 points in his high school career, using his 6’4 frame and a lethal three point shot to amass those totals. Mashhour will look to prove he is not a typical roster fill out. 

With all that said, where does that leave the defending Horizon League champs? 

Guards: Jaylen Jones, DQ Cole, Jayson Woodrich, Chang Hoth, Jack Hoth, Luke Gelow*, Nassim Mashhour*

Forwards: Isaiah Jones, Malcolm Christie, Cooper Craggs, Warren Marshall, Zavier Banks*

Bigs: Buru Naivalurua, Allen David Mukeba, Deng Majak

*walk-on

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