SEMO hoops loses top player yet again

Southeast Missouri State sophomore Alex Caldwell (0) looks to put up a shot, while guarded by SIUE senior Tyresse Williford (11) and junior Mike Adewunmi (5), this past season at the Show Me Center.
Jacob Wiegand ~ Southeast Missourian

When Southeast Missouri State athletic director Brady Barke made the decision to replace men’s basketball coach Rick Ray earlier this month, he had asked for two things from the two signed Redhawk recruits, as well as the returning student-athletes:

• Trust, and

• Patience

“My hope with (the recruits),” Barke said, “is the same hope I have with any of our student-athletes, it’s that they give us an opportunity to identify the next person and put some trust in us to at least give it a chance.

“If at the end of the day, that doesn’t work, and they’re not comfortable with that, then we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

The early indications are that Barke’s “hope” is not enough, because both Redhawk recruits in the class of 2020 (Phil Russell and Ramean Hinton) have de-committed from the program, as well as two returning players.

Junior forward Isaiah Gable announced recently that he was transferring out of the program and on Friday, the team’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Alex Caldwell, did, as well, according to the web site

The loss of Caldwell marks the third consecutive season that the Redhawks’ leading scorer has elected to transfer. Two years ago, Denzel Mahoney left for Creighton, while Ledarrius Brewer transferred to East Tennessee State a year ago.

“I know when (the players) go through that process,” Barke said, “they certainly are committing and investing in a particular coach or staff that is in place at the time, and that changes. But I also feel like there is a level of commitment to us as an institution in the hope that they at least give us an opportunity to show them what the future will look like for them.”

Caldwell moved into a starting role this season and evolved into one of – if not the – best player at Southeast.

His points rose from 7.8 to 12.8 this season, as his minutes increased from 22 to 31 per game.

The most impressive area of development for Caldwell was his assist-to-turnover ratio.

As a freshman, Caldwell dished for a mere 14 assists in 12 Ohio Valley Conference games, while turning the ball over 18 times.

This past season, those numbers improved to 66 and 41 in 18 games.

With the four departures, as well as the fact that redshirt sophomore guard Khalil Cuffee was dismissed from the team in late February, Southeast has eight returning scholarship players and five available scholarships.

Caldwell becomes the 20th player in the past five Southeast recruiting classes to leave the program prior to their eligibility being completed. Only five athletes in the past five years have done so.

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