Here’s my story on Iona landing Rutgers transfer Mike Poole, including a note on the Gaels still being in contention for Jabarie Hinds:
Iona men’s basketball has built a reputation as a second home for tri-state area transfers in search of a fresh start. That bond between the program and local talent was further strengthened Tuesday when the Gaels landed Rutgers transfer Mike Poole (pictured above).
Poole, a 6-foot-5 swingman from Queens, committed during Tuesday’s visit to the New Rochelle campus and just a day after he became the fifth Rutgers player granted his release since the university fired Mike Rice after video surfaced of Rice verbally and physically abusing players.
“I felt like I needed a new start with all the stuff that was going on at Rutgers,” said Poole, who graduated from St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark and averaged 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game during his junior season at Rutgers. “It was weighing me down.”
Poole continued the exodus of high school stars from the tri-state area to Iona. They have populated the Gaels’ roster during two straight trips to the NCAA tournament under head coach Tim Cluess.
Both Cluess and his top assistant, Jared Grasso, recruited Poole out of high school. Cluess was the head coach at Iona and Grasso the interim coach at Fordham.
“I felt comfortable with the coaching staff,” said Poole, who scored a season-high 18 points in a win over Iona on Dec. 8. “When we played this year, they all wished me the best.”
Poole will follow former Rice star Momo Jones, who was named the MAAC player of the year this season, his second after transferring form Arizona. Fellow transfers Tavon Sledge (Spring Valley) and Curtis Dennis (Blessed Sacrament) were among other locally-based transfers to play major minutes on the Gaels this season.
Like those three, Poole said he will request a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play in the 2013-14 season.
Iona also remains a viable option for former Mount Vernon star Jabarie Hinds (pictured right). The 5-foot-11 sophomore has visited UMass and St. Joseph after West Virginia granted his release earlier this month.