By Marty Gordon
New Radford University men’s basketball head coach Darris Nichols had to move fast to fill an empty roster after being named to the post just two months ago. Monday, the school announced the signing of six newcomers to the team for the 2021-22 season.
The list included 6-7 South Florida transfer Rashun Williams, who played for three years as a power forward. He saw consistent playing time while totaling 111 points, 80 rebounds, 9 blocks, 11 steals, and 14 assists.
Last season, he played a key part in defeating top-seeded Wichita State in the American Conference Tournament when he recorded six rebounds and scored eight points.
Before college, he played for the Calhoun County High School Cougars where he was two-time Player of the Year and three-time Region Player of the Year in Georgia. His high school team won state championships in 2015 and was the runners-up in 2017. In the state semifinals against Randolph-Clay he scored a career-high 37 points.
6-2 guard Tai’Reon “Scootah” Joseph transferred to Radford from Austin Peay.
As a freshman, Joseph appeared in all 27 games while starting 12. He averaged 6.4 points per game with 16 steals, 29 assists, and 32 rebounds.
Before playing at Austin Peay, Joseph played four seasons at Scotlandville Magnet School, winning four straight state championships that included a win over the No. 12 team on the ESPN High School Top 25 in 2019-20. He was selected as a Louisiana Sports Writers Association All-State member as a senior after two straight years as an honorable mention on the list.
Darris Nichols and his brother, Shane Nichols, an assistant coach who comes from Murray State, were also able to attract three junior college players. 6-4 Roshaun Black played for the Seminole State College Trojans where he averaged 17 points per game while shooting 46% from three.
6-5 guard Camron “Cam” McNeil played at Spartanburg Methodist College for one season where he averaged 18.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. McNeil was a consistent shooter all season long finishing at 46.1% from the field, 38.7% from three, and an 81.6% free throw percentage.
Before junior college, McNeil attended Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va.
Artese Stapleton comes to Radford from Lewis University where during his sophomore season he averaged 10.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Stapleton led the team in points (260), made field goals (95), field goals attempted (214), and assists (57) while also recording the second-most steals (28).
The Highlanders also signed 6-6 guard Derrick Jones, Jr., from the Blue Ridge School in Charlottesville. Jones recently finished up high school playing at both Albemarle and Blue Ridge High School. He earned multiple awards in 2019 including Player of the Week (twice), first team all-region, and second team all-state.
While playing for Blue Ridge, he won two state championships in the VIC (B) region his junior and senior years with the team posting a 50-5 record over those two seasons. During the 2021 season, he was named Virginia State Tournament MVP after averaging 19.5 points, 1.6 assists, 8.5 rebounds, and two steals per game.
The new group will join nine returning players: redshirt senior Dravaon Mangum, Chyree Walker, sophomore guard Xavier Lipscomb, redshirt senior Lewis Djonkam, Josiah Jeffers,
Senior Shaquan Jules, graduate student Bryan Hart, sophomore Keishon Porter, and sophomore forward Joshua Walker..
Overall, the Highlanders will be returning 69% of both their scoring and minutes from last season. On the defensive end, Radford returns 70% of its rebounds, 90 total steals, and 40 blocks from last year’s squad that finished the season with a 15-12 (12-6 Big South) record.