Ever since the departure of homegrown talents and Big West champions Casper Ware and Larry Anderson, Long Beach State has developed the reputation of a school that builds its roster around talented transfers. With head coach Dan Monson signing a five-year contract extension, it looks like the program will stick to its guns and continue doing just that.
Gabe Levin proved to be a highly successful transfer, averaging a career-best season last year with 18.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists as a power forward. Highlights of the season included a 45-point game against UC Davis and when he became the 12th player in the school’s history to reach the 1,000-point mark. Long Beach State ran its offense through Levin and with him gone now, it looks like Monson has decided to go in the opposite direction, making a push for a guard-driven system.
Junior redshirt guard Ron Freeman will make his debut on the court this year after sitting all of last year. He is coming out of Northwestern Florida after a brief stint at Kansas State. The 6’6 guard averaged 8.2 points on 46.9 percent shooting and shot 41.9 percent from three as a Raider. He finished his career shooting 90.6 percent from the free throw line — an asset that Long Beach State needs badly. Freeman is an athletic guard who plays at a high tempo, can shoot off the dribble and likes to run the floor. Don’t be surprised if you see him paired up with senior guard Deishuan Booker to start the season.
Monson also picked up two more junior college guards in Colin Slater and Drew Cobb. Slater is a 6-foot guard who averaged 4.4 points at Tulane. He didn’t play much, and his shooting splits were not great, which could have attributed to that. He shot 32 percent from the field and 27.1 percent beyond the arc. Slater will have a lot to prove if he wants to find some minutes in the rotation with such a guard-heavy roster.
Cobb proved to be a reliable scorer for Fresno City College. The 6’4 guard averaged 8.7 points on 59.6 percent shooting from the field and shot 44.4 percent from three. If Cobb is able to translate these numbers to Division I play, there is a good chance he can take over a starting spot at the beginning of the season.
The only non-guard transfer Monson and his staff have recruited so far is Breyon Jackson, a 6’8 power forward from Cloud County Community College. Jackson has the ability to stretch the floor and shoot the three, but it’s not something he seems willing to do often. If he is able to gain some confidence from deep, the 49ers could run more complex offenses rather stay stagnant.
Defensively, it is unclear what these prospects can bring against Division I players, but with the recent hiring of defensive-minded Bobby Braswell as an assistant coach, Monson has made that area a priority.
The tradition of recruiting transfers lives on at Long Beach State with Monson on the throne, and it looks like it won’t be stopping anytime soon.