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Scott Pera: "We want guys that want to stay here. We'll continue to recruit that way."

POSTED: April 30, 2020 -- 10:24 a.m. CT

Rice men's basketball Head Coach Scott Pera spoke with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss the players he and his coaching staff signed for the Owls' 2019-'20 recruiting class. Seven players were signed. Five (6'4" Cavit Ege Havsa, 6'1" Noah Hutchins, 6'3" Jake Lieppert, 6'9" Mylyjael Poteat, and 6'6" Cameron Sheffield) are eligible to compete in the 2020-'21 season while two (6'9" Riley Abercrombie and 6'1" Travis Evee) will redshirt this season.

Coach Pera remarked, "They bring a variety of skills to the court. Great character off the court. They care about academics and the Rice degree; so, they are everything that we look for in a student-athlete. These guys check those boxes.

"We only have one graduate-transfer - one senior - on the team this year. But, we'll still have some experienced guys with Riley (Abercrombie) having his third year of college; with Malik (Ondigo) having his fourth year of college. Obviously, Ege (Cavit Ege Havsa) will be entering his fifth year of college. Chris (Mullins) and Payton (Moore) have played a ton of minutes for us already in the program; and, so did our three freshman last year -- Quincy (Olivari); Zach (Crisler) and Max (Fiedler).

"So, even though (we have) a lot of newcomers and one senior, we still have, I feel, enough experience to help us out and move along here."

With so much roster turnover, lack of leadership could be a problem for the team. Coach Pera believes the players who were return from the 2019-'20 team will help cultivate the leadership and maintain the Rice Owls' culture.

"Payton and Chris have been around and they're in their third year and played a ton of minutes. Malik spent the year with us as well. He came from Texas Tech - a tremendous winning program as well."

Pera believes the newcomers will add to the culture because they come from winning programs.

"If you look at the people we added in terms of, Riley came from Boise a very successful program; Malik from Texas Tech almost won a national championship; Jake from a very good junior college; and then, these three freshman: Cam, Mylyjael, and Noah. Two of them won a state championship and the other one lost in the last seconds in the finals."

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Rice's top two players (Trey Murphy III and Drew Peterson) decided to transfer. Murphy chose to sign with Virginia while Peterson chose to sign with Minnesota. Therefore, Murphy and Peterson's departures meant Pera and staff had to replace a total of seven players for the 2020-'21 season.

"We're recruiting winners and that will translate and add to our culture as well as we continue to grow," Pera acknowledged. "And, the other side of it, too, is we've kind of gotten used to this. A couple of years ago, I brought in a five man class. This year, we lost the five seniors; and, then, Trey (Murphy III) and Drew (Peterson) decided to leave. So, we decided to bring in seven; and, I love the guys that we brought in to the program. I'm looking forward to taking the next step in the program and being even better."

Pera concluded, "We want guys that want to stay here. We'll continue to recruit that way; but, we are real excited about the guys that we have gotten."

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