With Carvacho gone, who’s up next for CSU basketball?

Bailey Bassett

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down not only the world but also sports, it prematurely ended the careers of the Colorado State men’s basketball seniors collegiate careers. Nico Carvacho, Kris Martin and Hyron Edwards all had storied careers while repping the green and gold. 

All three were major contributors to the 2019-2020 squad, but every season provides new hope, and they must be replaced in the rotation of a team with a bright future. Today we look at three candidates who can replace the production of the former senior ballers. 

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Dischon Thomas

Carvacho’s spot will be the hardest to replace but CSU may have the right guy to fill his shoes. Carvacho is one of the greatest Rams of all time, being their all-time leader in rebounds and a player that will be remembered for a long time. His backup last year was Dischon Thomas, so a significantly increased role for the forward-center out of Arizona is to be expected.

Carvacho logged the vast majority of the minutes at the five last season but Thomas still played in every game, averaging 9.7 minutes per game. In that limited floor time, Thomas proved he has the skills to be the next great CSU big man. His averages of 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds weren’t mind-blowing, but Thomas is the poster boy for consistency.

When Carvacho subbed out, the overall team production didn’t collapse thanks in part to Thomas playing the role the team needed and playing it well. He won’t shoot 20 shots per game, but he will make open shots, even with a range that extends to the 3-point line. This efficiency was demonstrated by a team-high 65.3 field goal percentage, a mark 9% higher than the next player, Carvacho.

Thomas plays hard defense and moves the ball well for a big man, thriving in handoff passes at the top of the key. Look for Thomas to play minutes similar to what Carvacho saw last year, especially because next year’s squad will be somewhat on the smaller side. 

Isaiah Rivera

Kris Martin was an important contributor for the 2019-2020 Rams squad. He started the year as a starter and transitioned into the sixth man role, where he thrived. Martin was an extremely versatile player who did a little bit of everything, and that is exactly what they expect from Rivera, an incoming freshman from Geneseo, Illinois. The 6-foot-5-inch combo guard/forward is likely to contribute meaningful action early in his career.

Considered a steal for the 2020 class, the three-star recruit was dominant in high school. Like Martin, he is a three-level scorer who can get to the rim but also keeps the defense honest with a reliable 3-point shot. Plenty games were won thanks in part to Martin last year, and if Rivera can fill the unselfish role that Martin provided, the future of CSU will look even brighter than it already does. 

Ignas Sargiunas

Some of the most memorable plays last season were directly from Hyron Edwards. Edwards was an incredible athlete who also wasn’t afraid to scrap around with hard-nosed defense and hustle. Edwards also shot a solid 32% from 3-point land. Sargiunas can come into the rotation this season and do some of the exact things that were provided by Edwards.

Sargiunas is a sharp-shooter and can even improve on Edwards’ 3-point numbers at a greater volume. That same flash and spark off the bench is a role that Sargiunas will be comfortable thriving in this season. The 6-foot-5-inch guard from Lithuania redshirted last season after transferring to Niko Medved’s program from the University of Georgia. Edwards did a lot of the dirty work last season and was always reliable to lock up opposing guards. CSU hopes Sargiunas can provide this same spark while also adding even more of a scoring punch.

Expectations are high this year for the Rams. We can only hope for a normal season despite the global pandemic, but with sports like professional baseball and basketball starting back up this week, the table has been set for the Rams to improve on their 20-12 record from last year.  

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

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