Temple basketball has a big senior class this year. The only player missing from last year is guard and leader Quincy Wadley.
Replacing Wadley is a large group of newcomers. Leadership, even without Wadley, should not be a problem for the five new players.
With a difficult regular schedule, and new faces combined with the old, the Owls look to accomplish this task. Temple returns with seven players from last years’ squad, including four starters, even though starting guard David Hawkins is academically ineligible until mid-December.
Wadley had a successful career at Temple. He was second on the team in scoring averaging 15.1 ppg, and was first in leadership and perimeter defense last season.
The five newcomers should see some playing time early in the season, because of other teammates’ injuries and Hawkins’ ineligibility. Coach John Chaney has two prime prospects to replace Wadley’s spot at guard: freshman Nile Murry (6-4, 195) and sophomore Brain Polk (6-4, 205).
Murry, from Klien Forest High School in Houston, Texas, is a true point guard with speed and great ball-handling skills. Chaney has hinted that he will play both Greer and Murry on the court together, either one bringing up the ball. That will allow Greer, a great shooter, to get more open looks. Polk sat out last year. He is a good catch-and-shoot player from the perimeter.
“Brian does not look ready, he is extremely rusty,” Chaney said. “Imagine one of those trees in the fall; he is shaking like a leaf.”
The feel-good story among the newcomer guards is the story of senior walk-on Jay Jameson.
Jameson, who was a practice squad player last year, earned a scholarship. Jameson paid his own way to Atlanta last year to be with the team at the South Regional Final of the NCAA tournament.
He won’t play many minutes, but will be there to support and help the team along the way.
Temple also has a group of new forwards to help take pressure off of Kevin Lyde. With only Lyde underneath the basket last year, the team played with three guards on the floor a lot.
This year figures to be different with the addition of freshman Glenn Elliot (6-9, 235). Elliot, a strong force down low, is a true power forward with a lot to learn.
“We hope he’ll pick up a lot of the garbage playing off [Lyde],” Assistant Coach Dan Leibovitz said about Elliot. “Glen is the rebounder we have needed for a while. He is young, but ready to learn, and that is always a great asset in a young basketball player.”
Elliot played at Jacksonville’s Bolles High School, where he was teammate of fellow newcomer Hawley Smith, a 6-foot-6-inch forward.
Smith, like Jameson, might not see many minutes this season but is another key bench player.
Temple has a good mix of young and old players that can contribute. Now comes the fun part of putting the pieces together in a run for a national title.
Staff Writer Scott Chafetz contributed to this story.