The Boston College Eagles knew they would be losing a lot after Steve Donahue’s first season. At times, fourth-fifths of the men's basketball starting lineup was made up of seniors Joe Trapani, Corey Raji, Biko Paris and Josh Southern. So turnover was inevitable.
On Saturday, the final fifth -- arguably the most important part of the whole -- announced he wouldn’t be back, either. Reggie Jackson is staying in the NBA draft, the school announced ahead of Sunday’s NCAA deadline for early entrants to withdraw.
Jackson forgoes his senior season in Chestnut Hill, and is projected by some to go anywhere from late in the lottery to the second round. ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford, for one, has written that he believes Jackson’s stock will go up in workouts as teams wonder at point guard/shooting guard's combination of athleticism and length -- he has a 7-foot wingspan. Fran Fraschilla, on the other hand, is not a fan.
The early departure of Jackson, a first-team All-ACC selection and the Eagles’ leading scorer as a junior, means Donahue will field an entirely new starting lineup in 2011-12. The rebuilding project is officially under way.
In addition to the departed starting five, walk-on-turned-starter John Cahill and little-used reserves Nick Mosakowski, Chris Kowalski and Cortney Dunn were seniors in 2010-11. According to a report in the Boston Globe, junior reserve Gabriel Moton, Danny Rubin, Peter Rehnquist and Matt Humphrey. Of that group, only Moton and Rubin, a walk-on, contributed in meaningful situations last season. Moton backed up Paris, playing in all 34 games and averaging 2.5 points and 1 assist. After not playing at all in the Eagles' loss to Yale in the second game of the season, Rubin shot his way into a more prominent role -- including a spot in the starting five for a time -- before struggling down the stretch and finding his playing time reduced.
Rehnquist, a junior from Sharon, Mass., appeared in 10 games, averaging 1.8 minutes and 0.6 points. Humphrey sat out 2010-11 after transferring from Oregon after his injury-shortened sophomore year when he averaged 5.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 16.2 minutes in 19 games.
It figures, then, that much will be asked of Donahue’s first recruiting class in the ACC.
That class consists of six players, including one ranked in the ESPNU 100: Ryan Anderson, PF, 6-foot-8, 215 pounds (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic), No. 91 in the ESPNU 100; Kyle Caudill, C, 6-11, 265 (Brea, Calif./Brea Olinda); Jordan Daniels, PG, 5-8, 150 (Etiwanda, Calif./Etiwanda); Lonnie Jackson, SG, 6-3, 165 (Valencia, Calif./Valencia); Dennis Clifford, C, 6-10, 215 (Bridgewater, Mass./Milton Academy); and Eddie Odio, SF, 6-6, 205 (Miami/Christopher Columbus).
Dave Telep, senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com, said in an interview Tuesday that while the half-dozen-player haul wouldn’t rank in the top half of the ACC in talent, it definitely fits Donahue’s system.
“Not everyone in the ACC would’ve recruited these guys, but they fit Boston College’s profile and that’s what’s important,” Telep said. “This class represents what [Donahue] likes in players. That’s what really matters; if you’re going to recruit to a profile, you recruit to a profile.”
The profile for Donahue is skilled, intelligent, high-character players, and not necessarily top-flight athletes. Donahue likes players who can pass, shoot and handle adversity.
BC’s 2011 class includes just one four-star recruit (Anderson), one three-star recruit (Caudill) and four two-star recruits.
Of the six newcomers, Telep tabbed Anderson -- named Gatorade Player of the Year in California after averaging 16.5 points and 9.7 rebounds a game as a senior in 2011 -- as the most likely to contribute immediately.
“When you bring in six players, odds are some of these guys are gonna have to play right away,” Telep said. “But until you bring them onto campus and put them through the paces, it’s tough to say [what they can contribute].
“Anderson, Jackson and Clifford are guys I would expect to see good early returns from.”
Just how much those returns help, however, is still far from certain. While other ACC teams lost high-profile, highly productive players -- Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Kyrie Irving from Duke; Chris Singleton from Florida State; Iman Shumpert from Georgia Tech; Malcolm Delaney from Virginia Tech -- none got hit as hard in terms of numbers as BC. And four ACC schools' recruiting classes are ranked in the top 25, with Duke at No. 2, North Carolina at No. 4, Virginia Tech at No. 12 and Florida State at No. 18.
After winning 21 games and losing at home to Northwestern in the second round of the NIT with Jackson and a senior-laden roster in Donahue’s first season at Boston College, the Eagles are almost assured of suffering some serious growing pains in Year 2.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com.