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The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Men’s basketball welcomes three transfers to revive program, rebuild talent

Nuria Diaz | Staff Photographer
Forward Keegan Harvey and guards Maximus Edwards and E.J. Clark Keegan Harvey will look to lock down access to the paint against high-scoring teams and force turnovers.

Three new additions are joining the ranks of men’s basketball and trying to filling the shoes of former star guards Joe Bamisile and Brayon Freeman as the team rebuilds its backcourt.

Redshirt freshman guard Maximus Edwards, graduate student guard EJ Clark and junior forward Keegan Harvey will look to lock down access to the paint against high-scoring teams and force turnovers. Edwards and Harvey said they will play aggressive defense and crash the glass to maximize the team’s possessions, while Clark plans to leverage his shooting abilities to give the backcourt added depth on offense.

Head Coach Chris Caputo said the addition of Edwards and Clark will pay dividends on both ends of the court, bringing a higher defensive intensity and more shooting opportunities for players.

“EJ is a guy who provides depth at the guard position, a guy who can play on and off the ball, has shown the ability to make shots throughout his career,” Caputo said. “And they can give a lot of defensive intensity on the ball for us, which is one of the things we need.”

Clark transferred from Alabama State in June after two seasons over which he appeared in 41 games. Clark averaged 8 points per game during his senior year while shooting a 42.6 percent clip from behind the 3-point line. He said his coaches from his junior college – Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana – helped facilitate phone calls between himself and Caputo, eventually leading to his recruitment to GW in the spring semester.

“Actually Caputo and one of my JUCO coaches are good friends, so they ended up contacting each other about me,” Clark said. “We got on the FaceTime, Zoom call with all the coaches, and I really liked what they were talking about, so I committed.”

Clark said he was drawn to Caputo’s fast-paced playing style and experience in the NCAA tournament, where Caputo reached the Elite Eight as the associate head coach for the University of Miami. Standing at 5’11″, Clark said his “short” height and agility fits well with high-speed plays, where he can create shot opportunities for himself and for his teammates as a playmaker.

Clark said the team has spent time together off the court during their free time to increase their chemistry, helping the team mesh and communicate well while on the court. Clark said Caputo has taken the team under his wing since April with weekly team dinners to build team chemistry and bond with them off the hardwood.

“Hanging out outside the court, just becoming good friends, that plays a big part on the court,” Clark said. “Just getting comfortable around these guys, it’s my first few months here, so I’m really just trying to get a comfortable learning system.”

He said the whole team has created a welcoming environment that has eased his transition to GW. He said he looks forward to seeing students attend the games in the coming season, helping guide new players to play hard and play smart as a veteran college basketball player.

“Come back out the gym, we need the crowd,” Clark said. “The crowd matters more than what you think.”

Junior forward Keegan Harvey, one of the tallest player on the team at a towering 6’11″, is a 2021 spring transfer from the College of Charleston but was unable to play last season due to NCAA transfer rules requiring players to sit out for a year after a second transfer.

He joined the team in its last semester under former Head Coach Jamion Christian, who was fired after a lackluster showing in the 2022 A-10 tournament, but the coaching staff turnover – of which the program’s then-Director of Communications Lamont Franklin as the sole survivor – has come with a smooth transition between coaching staffs. Harvey said Franklin helped the team through the transition as the only familiar face on the court and carrying a central role in the team’s transition.

“Lamont Franklin helped with the transition a great deal when we didn’t have any coaching staff at all,” Harvey said. “He was still giving us workouts. This summer, I mean, was a very, very good establishing summer.”

Originally hailing from Newcastle, Australia, Harvey has played under four head coaches throughout his college career, he said Caputo has been the most organized and goal-oriented of any of them. He said Caputo identifies and communicates skills that he wants the team to develop on offense and defense, and he communicates them through a series of bullet points outlining the priorities of each practice.

“I feel like that sort of culture and buildup every day, every little thing eventually accumulates into a full system and a foundation for which our team can be successful,” Harvey said.

Harvey said the team has identified communication and defensive rebounding as two of its top goals for improvement this season after spotting the two as issues during scrimmages. He said the team has honed in on both early on with consistent training to construct a system that will enhance plays throughout the season.

“Our assistant coaches, they’re really adamant about anytime we’re just not they’re, not consistent, they’re making sure that we stay attentive and focused,” Harvey said. “I feel like with this new coaching staff, compared to other ones, that’s probably what separates successful teams from nonsuccessful teams, is that as we get through the sludge of going through September then October practice, we haven’t played any games, that we’re just consistently doing the same things every day.”

Harvey said he aims to continue becoming a more consistent and well-rounded player by stretching out the offense and helping create driving lanes to the paint. He said he hopes the team wins pivotal games against teams like South Carolina to establish GW as a higher-seeded team heading into the A-10 Championship.

“In the nonconference schedule, we’ve got a lot of home games, really good impact games, especially against South Carolina, we want to take the majority of those,” Harvey said. “And then as we get into the conference, just keep establishing GW as more of a front runner in terms of A-10 league and then go far into the playoffs this year as well.”

Redshirt freshman guard Maximus Edwards, a transfer student from Kansas State, spent an entire year without playing due to an injury before he came to GW. He said the incoming coaching staff believed in his  defensive ability due to his 6’5″ build.

“So it was love from day one, and it’s five hours from home, my whole family could come see me for a majority of the home games,” Edwards said. “So it was a win-win for both of us.”

He said he has during the offseason, he has focused on improving his 3-point shooting and maintaining a healthy diet to keep his body as healthy as possible and build the stamina to last the duration of a game.

He said the team plans to double down on interior defense this season to keep opponents outside the paint while collecting more boards to turn into turnovers. He said the team’s goal is to win the A-10 Championship and return to its status as a conference threat.

“Just know that GW basketball is back,” Edwards said. “Caputo is changing it, and we’re going to be good. We’re going to have a great year. And we just need all the students to come support us.”

Jarrod Wardwell, Clara Duhon and Nuria Diaz contributed reporting.

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