Colorado State hoops now scrambling to find players, coaches

Keegan Pope

Though it was first reported nearly a week ago, the news of Colorado State assistant coach Ross Hodge leaving for Arkansas State finally become official Tuesday when the school announced it via press release. 

Soon to follow will be official confirmation of associate head coach Leonard Perry leaving Fort Collins to join Damon Stoudemire’s staff at University of the Pacific, leaving the Rams down two assistant coaches and two of their top recruiters in maybe the biggest recruiting month of the year. 

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As it currently stands, CSU has three scholarships to fill after recent CSU pledge Leon Gilmore III reopened his recruitment following Hodge’s departure. According to Gilmore’s junior college coach, who spoke with the Coloradoan, Gilmore hasn’t completely ruled out coming to Fort Collins. However, because of Hodge’s departure, it is unlikely that he would recommit to the Rams. 

Now, with at least three scholarships to fill — if no current players leave — and two assistant coaching jobs to fill, head coach Larry Eustachy is now stuck trying to replace a four-man senior class along with one-third of his coaching staff. 

So where do the Rams go from here?

Coaches should be, and likely are, Eustachy’s first priority, but finding experienced Division I assistants at this point in the recruiting cycle could prove challenging, especially with Wednesday looming as National Signing Day. With that being said, Eustachy could turn to the junior college ranks — where he found Hodge — to find coaches, and especially coaches with connections to potential players CSU could bring in. Here’s a look at a couple of possible assistants Eustachy could tap for his staff. 

Jase Herl, South Plains Junior College assistant coach

Herl, who coached CSU senior Gian Clavell at Northwest (Kansas) Technical College, likely has at least a foot in the door because of his relationship with Clavell and his tenure at South Plains coaching possible CSU targets Che Bob and Marlon Jones. With Gilmore’s decommitment, CSU still needs to fill at least one scholarship with a wing forward, a position Bob would fit well in. Jones, who officially visited DePaul in October, could also be an intriguing player to fill Tiel Daniels’ center spot. 

Herl showed his ability to develop players, turning Clavell into a Junior College All-American, and keeping Clavell must be a top priority for Eustachy. 

Tra Arnold, Odessa Junior College head coach

Arnold doesn’t have much of a connection to CSU, though he is well-respected in the junior college coaching ranks. One of the biggest selling points of Arnold’s could be his relationship with former Indiana forward and current Odessa forward Devin Davis, who was recently named the top junior college prospect in the country by Rivals.com. Davis would an absolute recruiting coup for Eustachy, but even hiring Arnold might not be enough to convince Davis to come to Fort Collins. 

Willie Glover, current CSU video coordinator

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Rumors have been swirling about Eustachy possibly promoting Glover, but nothing has been substantiated about that news. Glover is very familiar with Eustachy and the players, but doesn’t have many recruiting connections because his role as video coordinator didn’t exactly require that. Continuity in a staff cannot be undervalued, but Glover may be more of a surprise selection. 

Maybe just as pressing is who CSU is going to fill its three current roster openings. Signee Devocio Butler reiterated his commitment to CSU earlier this week, but that still leaves the Rams with at least three open scholarships barring any departures after the losses of Hodge and Perry, who were close with many of the current players. 

The Rams have been targeting a couple of players since the season ended, but it remains to be seen whether CSU can sign them without their ace junior college recruiter in Hodge. Here’s a look at who the Rams are after.

Devin Davis, sophomore, Odessa Junior College

Davis was a top-150 recruit out of high school, garnering offers from Indiana, Purdue and Illinois among others before choosing the Hoosiers. After appearing in 29 games a freshman, Davis was involved in a life-threatening car accident that very nearly derailed his career. After rehabbing, Davis was cited for marijuana possession in May 2015, and was ultimately dismissed from the team soon after. 

Davis transferred to Odessa Junior College in this past fall, and averaged 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the field. He was recently rated as the top junior college player in the country, and reportedly holds offers from Purdue and Cincinnati, among others. 

As noted earlier, he’d be quite the steal for Larry Eustachy and Co., but stranger things have happened. 

Pape Diatta, sophomore, College of Southern Idaho

The native of Senegal visited Fort Collins last weekend, and will visit Georgia this weekend. The 6-foot-7 forward, who hails from the same school as former Ram Gerson Santo, averaged 12.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game this past season while shooting 49 percent from the field. He’d likely fit into a similar mold as former CSU standout Stanton Kidd, but the Rams will have a tough battle on their hands with some high-major programs coming into the mix late. 

Che Bob, sophomore, South Plains Junior College

Bob, who was committed to Arkansas-Little Rock before head coach Chris Beard took the UNLV job, is another long forward at 6-foot-7, and could provide an immediate scoring punch if he ends up in Fort Collins. He averaged 15 points and eight rebounds per game at SPC, and could challenge for minutes at the small forward or power forward spots. His relationship with Jase Herl could play a role if Herl were to come to CSU, but it’s likely that Beard will try to re-recruit Bob to UNLV and with all of the recent departures there, he’d no doubt see a lot of playing time. 

Collegian Senior Sports Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at kpope@collegian.com and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.