Men's Basketball, Men's Sports, Sports

Long Beach State men’s basketball: Newcomers III

When thinking about what’s worked for the Long Beach State men’s basketball team in recent memory, it’s hard to overlook the success of its transfers.

With former transfers such as Gabe Levin and Deishuan Booker, players who move to the Beach—by way of junior college or other collegiate athletic conferences—have had good reason to like what they see in head coach Dan Monson’s player development track record.

Although the Beach has been ramping up efforts to prioritize freshmen recruitment and development, Monson and his staff appear to be sticking with how they approach integrating transfers this year.

“The first thing you’re always concerned about is why are they transferring,” Monson said. “Are they coming because they think it’s going to be easier at your place, or are they coming because they weren’t the star at the other place? Are they coming because they didn’t fit in or got in trouble at the other place?”

Monson said the biggest part of the vetting process with transfers is making sure they are comfortable and on the same page with the direction of the team.

“When we had problems with transfers is when we haven’t been on that same page,” Monson said, “and when we’ve had success with them is when they come in with the same vision and expectations with what their role is going to be as you do.”

The Daily Forty-Niner’s player spotlights for the 2019–20 Long Beach State men’s basketball roster continues with the program’s three incoming transfers.

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Ralston Dacanay / Daily Forty-Niner

Chance Hunter, 6’6”, 190 lbs, Guard, Sophomore, Cerritos CC (Inglewood)

Something many CSULB students can relate to, Hunter’s journey to the Beach was a 10-mile drive on Interstate 605 from Cerritos College. 

Whether it be cruising around campus together on skateboards or challenging each other on the virtual hardwood in “NBA 2K,” Hunter said the team’s chemistry clicked right away.

“I feel like with our group, everybody just messes with each other,” Hunter said. “Everything we do pretty much, we’re always together or somebody from the team is always close. We started staying as close as possible, and I feel like it stands out on the court.”

An Inglewood-native southpaw, Hunter has shown the versatility to play multiple positions on the wing and score on all three levels. Starting 27 of 29 games last season at Cerritos, Hunter led the Falcons to a 22-7 record as their leading scorer with 13.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. 

Back in August during the Costa Rica trip, Hunter scored a game-high 23 points in his scrimmage debut for Long Beach against the Panama All-Stars and 19 points against San Ramon ARBA a couple of nights later.

“I feel very comfortable,” Hunter said. “I just feel like with the offense, I can find ways to score. coach [Monson] puts me in the right spots to where I can just score efficiently and get the right shots that I love to get.”

Although Hunter appears primed to have a big role for the Beach right out of the gate, Monson said it’s going to take some patience for himself and Hunter to adjust to the elevated level of play.

“Chance looks ready,” Monson said. “He’s very mature, he’s fit in well, he’s a good team guy and I’m excited about his progress and his future. He’s never made a basket in Division I and it’s going to be some growing pains, but I have great confidence that he’s going to have a lot of success for us.”

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Ralston Dacanay / Daily Forty-Niner

Trever Irish, 7’0″, 230 lbs, Center, Sophomore, Central Arizona CC (Lewiston, Maine)

After growing up in Maine and coming off a two-year junior college stint in Arizona, moving to California was nothing out of the norm for Irish.

“I was in foster care, so it’s not new for me to move around,” Irish said. “Not being home isn’t hard for me.”

The toughest part of the transition for the 7-footer—living in the dorms, which come furnished with a single 80” x 34” XL Twin bed and tend to stay on the warmer side in fall.

“I hit both head and footboard,” Irish said. “I have to sleep curled up a little bit, but the hardest part was not having air conditioning and I like it cold. In the winter I mean, I sleep with the window open, so it was rough [at first in Long Beach] because it was super hot.”

Irish brings LB Nation more of the size down low that they’ve been asking for. At the junior college level, Irish was a force in the post with his college-ready physique, averaging 14.3 points on 62.6% shooting, 8.8 rebounds and 2.37 blocks per game as a freshman.

Last year, however, Irish played three games before being shut down for the rest of the season due to back issues. Additionally, Irish was the lone player to miss the Costa Rica trip due to summer school, and is working his way back from a hamstring injury he sustained early into team practices.

“The last one that we could afford to get hurt got hurt, and that’s usually just how the preseason goes,” Monson said. “We think that [Trever Irish’s] size and his skill set is going to be vital to this team when we get him healthy and up to speed with everybody else.”

Heading into the season, Irish said his main goal is simply to contribute.

“I’m not coming here being like ‘I want to average 25 and 15,’” Irish said, “like obviously, that’d be good, but I want to contribute to a winning team because I haven’t been able to win before. My high school team got kind of close, but we didn’t win. I think this team has a big potential to win a championship and then go dance in March.”

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Ralston Dacanay / Daily Forty-Niner

Michael Carter III, 6’5″, 175 lbs, Guard, Sophomore, South Dakota St. (Seattle, Washington)

After an injury-riddled year at Washington and leaving early last year from South Dakota State, Carter III looks to help take the Beach back to its conference-winning ways. 

“I’m just taking it one step at a time,” Carter III said, “but our ultimate goal is to win the Big West and that’s what I came here to do.”

After going head-to-head against NBA-level talent like Matisse Thybulle in practice and competing against other Pac-12 Conference foes, Carter III is battle-tested and will be asked to provide important scoring and perimeter defense for the Beach.

Although the game of basketball stays the same no matter the program, Carter III said he felt his NCAA-sanctioned movements helped him grow.

“When I was a freshman, I took a lot of things personally that I shouldn’t have and that’s something that I learned,” Carter III said. “Just growing up mentally and physically.”

Monson said Carter III needs to readjust to the level of play after missing valuable playing time over the last two seasons.

“[Michael Carter III is] older,” Monson said. “He’s very experienced and he’s got a great basketball IQ defensively and picks up plays. He’s playing three different positions for us, he’s very versatile. But like Trever [Irish], Mike for all intents and purposes hasn’t played in almost three years. … so even though he’s a veteran, you got to go back to high school since he’s had significant minutes.”

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