The future not only is now but really the next two seasons for a Stony Brook basketball team that has no seniors but possesses all the talent, depth and leadership it needs to crack the code and finally make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
Post man Jameel Warney, who was America East player of the year as a sophomore last season, returns with preseason first-team all-conference point guard Carson Puriefoy III, starting power forward Rayshaun McGrew and 6-10 backup forward Scott King to form the Seawolves' junior core. Coach Steve Pikiell expects to blend in plenty of youth, including redshirt freshman small forward Roland Nyama and true freshman shooting guard Deshaun Thrower.
"We're going to play together for so long that it makes you excited to know we can grow something really big around here,'' Warney said.
Pikiell would like to see Warney focus on scoring more from the low post instead of being such an unselfish passer. "People say, 'You have to get the big guy touches,' '' Pikiell said of Warney. "He got plenty of touches. Stop passing the ball sometimes.
"His unselfishness, at times, has hurt us. I think he can score 20 points every night, and he needs to do that now . . . Now it's his team. This is his year and Trey [Puriefoy's]. There's no seniors to play second fiddle to. This is their time. Jameel needs to play like that.''
But if Warney insists on dishing to the open man, he has plenty of choices, starting in the backcourt, where Puriefoy and Thrower form a dynamic duo.
"Deshaun brings a lot to the table,'' Puriefoy said. "He can get to the basket at any point in time. He's very strong, but he can step out and shoot a little bit to bring some versatility to his game. We can interchange. When we're on the court together, its a scary two-guard tandem.''
Thrower, who was named Michigan's Mr. Basketball last season, also was a standout high school quarterback. He adds a physical element at 6-2, 200 pounds and is known for his ability to drive to the basket. "I spent a lot of time in the gym shooting because I know I'm not going to be able to get to the basket like I did in high school,'' Thrower said. "It's bigger, and there's help defense. I'm working on outside and midrange jump shots, get to the rack, everything.''
The most athletic component of the young lineup undoubtedly is the 6-6 Nyama, a native of Germany who redshirted last season. "It was kind of like interning at a great firm,'' said Nyama, who is fluent in five languages. "I learned how to be happy for my teammates and to do whatever I can in practice to make everybody else better. I embraced it. It gave me a lot of confidence. I know what I can do on the court, and I also know what I can't do.''
Pikiell has quality depth with sophomore three-point shooter Kameron Mitchell at guard. Soph Ryan Burnett and 6-6 freshman Bryan Sekunda will compete behind Nyama, and 6-11 freshman Jakub Petras and 6-7 freshman Tyrell Sturdivant will try to carve out frontcourt time alongside McGrew and King.
With the Seawolves moving from tiny Pritchard Gym into 4,000-seat Island Federal Credit Union Arena, it was important for Pikiell to have a good product to put on the floor.
"I'm excited about having games where more people can see our team,'' he said. "I'm excited for the community to have this group for two years and really get to know Jameel and Trey and all these guys.''