The offseason college basketball news cycle is predominantly filled with news of transfers, and there might not be a coach in college basketball — in the non-Eric Musselman category, that is — working the transfer market like South Alabama’s Richie Riley.
Riley was hired on March 15 after spending two years as head coach at Nicholls State. He quickly found success there, going 35-28 with a regular season Southland title to his name. At just 35 years old, he’s already looking like one of the young stars in the profession.
So far, he’s not showing any signs of slowing down at South Alabama. Some mid-major programs take a few years to get going after making a coaching change, but Riley doesn’t appear like he wants to wait. To accommodate that, he’s gone out and made his presence felt on the recruiting trail.
After just a few weeks on the job, South Alabama hosted a pair of Power 5 players looking to transfer: Maryland’s Dion Wiley and South Carolina’s Kory Holden.
Holden would go on to commit to Riley just a few days later. He gives Riley a high-major talent that’s proven he can score at the mid-major level. Holden spent two years at Delaware where he averaged double figures both years before spending a year at South Carolina.
Holden’s commitment was followed later on in April by California’s Don Coleman. Coleman just completed a campaign in which he averaged 14 points per game. He’ll have to sit out a year, but it’s clear that Riley has a plan: Get talented players first and figure out the rest later.
And he hasn’t stopped!
Just yesterday, Riley pulled in another gifted scorer from the transfer market. This time it was High Point’s Andre Fox, who averaged 15.7 points per game last year and shot over 40 percent from three-point range.
It’s not guaranteed to work, but schools like Nevada and New Mexico State have shown that transfers can play a huge role in getting a program up and running under a new coach. Riley will be looking to take the Sun Belt by storm next year. The Jaguars haven’t finished above .500 in conference play since the 2012-2013 season.
As always, the transfer market will remain active, and it’d be a surprise if Riley stayed quiet the rest of the summer — after all, the Jaguars have one scholarship available, according to their Verbal Commits page. If he finds success at South Alabama, we’ll likely look back to this spring as the moment that started it all.