EVANSVILLE, Ind. — David Ragland finally has his team, and the University of Evansville Purple Aces are ready to get to work.
Players returned to campus over the weekend for the start of UE’s second session of summer classes. Much has changed since they went home. There’s a new coaching staff in place and seemingly an entirely new roster, too.
UE lost eight players from last season, including five of its top six scorers, with two graduating and six entering the transfer portal. Then former coach Todd Lickliter and the entire staff were fired on May 5.
By the time UE hired Ragland in late May, 82 days had passed since their season ended in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
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Only five scholarship players return. Everyone else is new, including four who signed to play for Lickliter but have stayed with the Aces. Ragland brought in six others to complete the roster.
There will be plenty of fresh faces inside the Fifth Third Practice Facility in the coming weeks. Let’s take a look at the newcomers before they have their first practice on Tuesday.
Marvin Coleman II
Coleman is a grad transfer from UNLV. He was a valuable piece off the bench for the Rebels, though he also started 25 games across his four-year stretch in Las Vegas.
His playing time dropped significantly last season after recovering from a stress fracture, going from 31 minutes per game in 2020-21 to 13.7 minutes last season. He averaged 2.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in the last season with limited time, but averaged 6.7 points, four assists and 2.5 rebounds in six games of an injury-riddled season.
He started as a walk-on at UNLV before being awarded a scholarship by current Iowa State coach TJ Otzelberger and eventually earning the starting point guard role before his injury.
Kenny Strawbridge Jr.
A redshirt senior, Strawbridge comes to the Aces following a strong season at Alabama State in which he averaged 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds. Prior to his time at ASU, he had stints at Kansas City and junior college Western Nebraska. The guard averaged 30 minutes of playing time for the Hornets and will likely remain in a starting role for UE.
Since this is his first four-year to four-year transfer, he is eligible to play immediately for the Aces without a waiver.
A JUCO transfer with Division I experience, Toumi comes to UE from Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, where he played after transferring from Little Rock. He averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds last season while shooting 54.6% from the field. He started twice last season and averaged 12.2 minutes per game, so he is likely to be a rotational piece for the Aces.
On the defensive end, he averaged 2.1 blocks and 1.3 steals last season.
The 6-10 forward from Meudon, France, has represented Tunisia in international competition at youth levels. He has three years of eligibility remaining.
Sekou Sada Kalle
One of the players who committed prior to Lickliter’s dismissal, Kalle was a three-star prospect coming out of high school before going to Akron. He played in six games for the Zips, averaging two points and one rebound on 85.7% shooting from the field for the eventual Mid-America Conference champions.
Prior to his time at Akron, the power forward averaged 15.6 points and 10.9 rebounds for DeSales High School in Kentucky.
One of the more exciting pieces coming to UE ahead of the new season, freshman Malovec brings international experience with Slovakia and played in the EYBL U20 with Inter Bratislava, where the dynamic guard averaged 11.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
On the international stage, he represented Slovakia at the FIBA U18 Challengers.
He chose UE over several other schools, per Verbal Commits’ Brandon Goble. His final choice was between the Aces and JUCO East Florida State, per CBB Europe, though Goble said he also had spoken to schools from the Horizon League to the Southeastern Conference.
The first addition of the Ragland era, Spinelli is a freshman from the Boston area. He took a post-grad year at the Darrow School after graduating from Watertown High School. He is the son of former Boston College coach Scott Spinelli.
The 6-2 guard had offers from Bryant and Wyoming and averaged 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, per bigshots.net.
A freshman guard who went to Link Year Prep in Branson, Missouri, Chisma-Okoh was one of Lickliter’s final signees.
Prior to his time at Link, he was a standout player at Mount Pleasant High School, averaging 13.6 points and 2.6 steals, earning all-state honors in Texas. Chism-Okoh committed two days after visiting.
Moncrief was also among the final group signed by Lickliter. A 6-6 guard, he comes to UE after being a standout at the Kiski School in Pennsylvania. He averaged 19 points and 7.2 rebounds, leading the team in both categories as well as assists and steals.
He had offers from Akron, Hofstra, Bryant, Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris and Boston University.
McIntire committed to UE in August and signed in November. Another guard, he played at North Harrison High School, where the 6-4 playmaker averaged 21.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.8 steals last season. He helped win a sectional title as a senior.
He shot 58% from the field and 39% from the 3-point line.
The final addition to the UE roster, Gehlhausen joins the Aces as a walk-on freshman from North High School. In his senior season, he averaged 11.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists for North last season.
He was named to the All-Southern Indiana Athletic Conference second team last season.
Anthony Kristensen is the University of Evansville athletics beat reporter for the Courier & Press. You can reach him by email, email@example.com, or on Twitter: @AMFKristensen,