PREVIEW: What’s in store for Temple Men’s Basketball

The Owls begin their season in less than a week. With many new faces, here’s an idea of what could happen this season.

In just six days, the new-look Owls will take the floor after Temple had a tumultuous end to last season. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS.

The Adam Fisher era of Temple Men’s Basketball has begun.

In just six days, the new-look Owls will take the floor. Temple had a tumultuous end to last season, and head coach Aaron McKie stepped down into a special advisor role. Five players transferred: Khalif Battle, Damian Dunn, Nick Jourdain, Jamille Reynolds and Zach Hicks.

“You can’t really dwell on the past,” said guard Hysier Miller, who initially entered the transfer portal before returning to Temple. “Everybody is energetic, bought in. Everyone knows we gotta be connected to do that.”

Temple enters the 2023 season facing many questions, and the former Penn State associate head coach and Miami assistant coach is tasked with finding the answers.


After a season that Dunn labeled “tournament or bust”, the Owls finished 16-16 and missed the NCAA Tournament altogether. Three days after a 30-point loss to Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference tournament, the search for a new head coach began.

About a month later, Temple announced Fisher’s hiring

Fisher was a graduate manager at Villanova from 2007-09 and served as an assistant coach at Miami for six seasons before his two-year stint at Penn State.

Fisher, a Penn State alumnus, helped the Nittany Lions earn an at-large bid to the 2023 NCAA tournament. They defeated seven-seed Texas A&M before falling to two-seed Texas in the second round.

Fisher is a breath of fresh air on the recruiting trail, helping secure high-level recruits at his previous stops. While at Miami, the Bucks County native convinced NBA guards Bruce Brown Jr. and Lonnie Walker IV to commit in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Fisher continued his recruiting success during his time at Penn State under then-head coach Micah Shrewsberry, landing guard Jameel Brown and transfer guard Andrew Funk en route to a top-30 recruiting class in 2022.

Fisher’s respect for the history of the Temple program enticed him and was part of the reason he accepted the new role. 

“It’s the tradition,” Fisher said during his introductory press conference. “There’s a tradition. There’s a pride. There’s a great history, and that’s something I wanted to be a part of. ”


Fisher went right to work rebuilding the roster, bringing in fresh faces to change the culture on North Broad Street. 

The Owls welcomed six new players: transfer guards Matteo Picarelli, Quante Berry and Jordan Riley, transfer forwards Sam Hofman and Steve Settle III and true freshman forward Zion Stanford.

The group is headlined by Settle, who averaged just more than 11 points per game for a Howard team that made the NCAA tournament last season.

“[Settle] is one of the best guys I’ve played with in college,” said Temple guard Jahlil White. “He’s so versatile. He’s so effective on defense. He can knock the three down at six [foot] 10 [inches.]”

Picarelli shot 39 percent from beyond the arc at UMBC last season, which could help an Owls team that averaged just 33 percent as a team. The Milan, Italy, product averaged 10 points for the Retrievers and can be a contributor this season regardless of his role.

“It’s up to [Fisher],” Picarelli said about his role. “I’m focusing on doing everything in my power to help the team win.” 


While Temple lost key contributors from the 2022 season, the team retained a few as well.

White and Miller were both starters for the Owls last season. White was the team’s best defender, and Miller led the team in assists while running the offense from the point guard position. The pair have bought into Fisher’s system and are tasked with leading the newcomers.

“That’s one thing [Fisher] put on us at the beginning of the year,” White said. “Just being a good teammate, friend and good player, that’s the best you can do as a leader.”

White took a step back last season after being named Big 5 Rookie of the Year in 2021. He averaged less than six points per game and missed time due to a shoulder injury that heavily impacted his play.

The duo is rejoined by center Emmanuel Okpomo and guard Shane Dezonie, who are both expected to have a larger role for the Owls this season. 

Since his hiring, Fisher has emphasized the importance of an alumni connection with the current roster. He retained longtime assistant Chris Clark and brought on two former Temple icons Khalif Wyatt and Lynn Greer

Their presence gives the current players role models who have been in their position and had success in the Cherry and White.

“It’s been great,” Fisher said. “They’ve come back and have been able to talk to the team about the pride to wear that jersey.”


Winning. As simple as it sounds, Miller feels this team can put up numbers in the win column. 

“I think we can win games,” Miller said. “We have the capability to do big things.”

Despite their optimism, the fact of the matter is the Owls are in year one of a rebuild. Temple is looking for its first NCAA tournament appearance since the 2018-19 season, but with an abundance of new faces, it is hard to expect that much of the Owls in Fisher’s first season.

That doesn’t mean Temple isn’t headed in the right direction. The Owls have their coach, and now, they’ll get to see what the new era of the program can look like.

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