After an injury-plagued basketball season that saw UC Davis struggle to a 9-22 record, the Aggie men are on the mend — and have some fresh faces headed to campus who could fuel a court renaissance in coach Jim Les’ upcoming fourth season.
On Friday, Les confirmed that 6-10 Butler University transfer Nolan Berry will don the UCD blue-and-gold in 2015-16.
The freshman, who saw spot duty for the 14-17 Big East Bulldogs, was a St. Louis-area prep standout and will have three years of eligibility after sitting out this winter.
“He’s similar to Josh (Ritchart) in style,” Les told The Enterprise. “What I really like about Nolan is … he’s versatile. He’s a guy that can shoot the 3, he’s a great high-post passer and playmaker, but he can also score down on the blocks.”
Les says his and assistant Kyle Vogt’s Midwest roots helped in securing Berry.
“Josh and Nolan will play against each other (in practice) this coming year,” Les adds. “Then, when Josh leaves, we expect him to step right in and have an impact.”
Ritchart was the Aggies’ leading scorer before he went down with a tibia stress fracture after nine games. He returns for his senior year, along with forward J.T. Adenrele — who missed all of 2013-14 with a knee injury.
Ritchart has one more doctor’s visit before he’s given a clean bill of health, Les said. Adenrele has been at full speed for a couple of months.
The Berry announcement comes on the heels of the Aggies securing the services of Neal Monson (6-11, F, Salt Lake CC) and Josh Fox (6-8, F, City College of San Francisco).
Last fall, all-Ohio guard Isaiah Walton (Elyria High) committed to UCD.
Add to the mix the return of redshirt senior Tyler Les, All-Big West guard Corey Hawkins, forwards Justin Dueck and Georgi Funtarov and guards Brynton Lemar, Darius Graham and Olivier-Paul Betu, and the Aggies are poised to improve on a season that saw them miss the Big West Conference tourney.
A three-time All-Missouri selection out of De Smet High, Berry ended his prep career as his alma mater’s No. 2 all-time scorer. He was ranked a top-120 college prospect by Rivals.com. Scout.com listed Berry as the No. 22 power forward recruit.
As a senior at De Smet, Berry averaged 20.8 ppg, almost 10 rebounds a night and 2.38 blocks. At Butler, he averaged 1.9 ppg during an average of six minutes playing time. Among the other colleges seeking Berry’s services was 2013 NCAA Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast.
Notes: Berry’s grandfather is St. Louis University legend “Easy” Ed Macauley, a 10-year NBA veteran who led the Billikens to the 1948 NIT championship. Macauley was the Associated Press Player of the Year in 1949. … Clint Bozner, the affable Aggie forward who averaged 5.1 ppg last season, has traded in his sneakers for cleats. The Enterprise has learned the 6-8, 250-pounder is headed to play football for the Aggies. … Les says there are a couple of spots remaining for the Aggie Summer Youth Camp that begins Monday morning for girls and boys ages 4-13. “There’s room to squeeze a couple more in. We’ll do anything we can to accommodate. We understand there may be some walk-ups,” says the coach. There is also a Shooting and Skills Academy on Monday and Tuesday (with an afternoon start time featuring instruction from NBA 3-point deadeye Les). Find out more about the camps at https://ucdavissportscamps.com/mensbasketball.