Meet the men’s basketball signees coming to CSU in 2020

Bailey Bassett

The Colorado State men’s basketball team already looks like a much-improved team with more talent than last year’s program. The Rams are hoping that the two players they signed to national letters of intent can continue this trend for next season.

Isaiah Rivera and Jacob Jennissen both committed to join the Rams and coach Niko Medved’s team for next season. 

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Rivera is a 6-foot-5-inch small forward from Geneseo, Illinois. He is ranked by ESPN as the 44th best small forward in the nation and is the fourth-best player from the state of Illinois. He is a three-star recruit and a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Class 3A all first team. He chose CSU over schools like DePaul, Loyola Chicago, New Mexico, St. John’s, Northern Iowa and Drake, coach Medved’s former squad. 

Rivera averaged 28 points per game as a junior and is a player who can get his team a bucket. Illinois is a very good basketball state, and Rivera dominated his competition. Rivera is a strong finisher down low and can get to the paint with ease.

With a super quick first step, Rivera’s greatest skillset is getting into the lane where he can finish above or below the rim. He also has solid playmaking skills and is a solid 3-point shooter.

Rivera plays bigger than his height suggests, and he should be able to contribute early in his collegiate career as either a two-guard or as a small forward. He averaged over eight rebounds per game last season.

During his junior year, he set the Geneseo High School records for single-game points with 51, single-season points with 797 and career points with 1,630.

CSU’s other signee was Jennissen. He was also recruited by Drake University. Jennissen is a legitimate 7-footer from Sauk Centre, Minnesota. He is a top 10 center from the state of Minnesota, a state that has a track record of producing bigs.

Coach Medved is from Minnesota, and last year’s recruit David Roddy went to Breck School in Minnesota and is currently putting on a show as the Rams’ sixth man.

As a junior, Jennissen averaged 15 points and 9.7 rebounds, all while shooting an efficient 60% from the field. Jennissen can shoot the ball; his 70% free throw percentage emphasizes his shooting stroke, which should continue to improve over time.

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Jennissen can hit the mid-range and the open 3-pointer. If Jennissen can be a consistent shooter, that would be huge for a team that hasn’t had much deep shooting from their recent big men. 

Jennissen can shoot over his opponents and has exceptional footwork and touch around the rim. At only 205 pounds, Jennissen is going to have to add strength and weight to compete against bigger and better players than he is used to at Sauk Centre Secondary School.

This year’s recruiting class continues the recent trend under Medved to recruit players from smaller schools who outmatched the lesser competition. Rivera is from a class 3A team, and Jennisesen went to an even smaller class 2A school. Fellow Minnesotan Roddy played class 2A as well.  

The Rams are already a very young team. This year’s squad features nine new players, five of whom are freshmen. Isaiah Stevens is starting, and Roddy, John Tonje and Dischon Thomas have all been major parts of the rotation as freshmen. James Moors, the near 7-foot forward from New Zealand, is expected to contribute soon. CSU also has sophomores Adam Thistlewood and Kendle Moore starting. 

Bailey Bassett can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @baileybassett_.