New Eastern Washington head coach David Riley needed an experienced and proven scorer, so he signed Central Arkansas transfer and All-Southland Conference guard Rylan Bergersen earlier this month.
EWU’s cupboards were still relatively bare.
Riley, who lost the bulk of his scoring when six of EWU’s top nine players entered the NCAA transfer portal, now has an experienced backcourt in Ellis Magnuson, Casson Rouse, Steele Venters and Bergerson, but the frontcourt remained thin and inexperienced.
That changed on Wednesday when the Eagles signed versatile 6-foot-7 forward Angelo Allegri, a starter last season at NCAA Tournament qualifier UNC Greensboro.
Allegri averaged 7.9 points and 4.1 rebounds for the Southern Conference-champion Spartans, who fell 64-54 to Florida State in the first round of March Madness last month.
Allegri, a junior from Kansas City, Missouri, played in 97 games at Greensboro, winning 72. He also appeared in the National Invitational Tournament as a freshman.
“The state is beautiful, laid-back and chill. A lot of nature in Washington,” said Allegri, who also considered Morehead State, Murray State and Illinois State. “And I like the coaching staff. Riley and I have developed a good relationship. I know he’s young, but I believe in him.
“I feel like I could be the best me at EWU.”
Allegri entered the transfer portal when former Greensboro head coach Wes Miller accepted the same job at Cincinnati last month. Several EWU players made a similar move when Shantay Legans was named the head coach at Portland following EWU’s NCAA Tournament appearance.
Riley is happy to bring in an explosive talent with NCAA Tournament experience.
“Angelo is as versatile as they come on both ends of the court, and really shoots it well,” Riley said of Allegri, who also hit 48 of 148 3-point attempts.
“Most importantly, Angelo is a winner whose energy will be infectious with our team, and his impact will be felt in all aspects of the game.”
Riley also brought in some length and athleticism from the junior college ranks in 6-8 NJCAA All-American forward Imhotep George.
George starred as a freshman at Allegany (Maryland) College, where he averaged 18.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and two blocks per game. He had a career-high 50 points against Butler County Community College.
George transferred to NJCAA power and Division I factory Tallahassee (Florida) Community College last season, but he appeared in only four games after sustaining a season-ending injury.
Riley said signing All-American-level NJCAA players is rare for EWU and believes George can be a force in the Big Sky Conference.
“(George) is a talented shooting wing who can guard multiple positions,” Riley said. “He has all the tools necessary to be a high-level player in the Big Sky and he has a great mindset that will get him there.”
Allegri and George join a recruiting class that includes incoming freshmen Ethan Price (6-10, England), Casey Jones (6-6, Eastlake High School of Sammamish, Washington) and Mason Landeck (6-2, Zillah, Washington).
Jones and Landeck, who played in the state before the pandemic, each played their seniors seasons in Utah.
The Eagles will be looking to fill the void of All-Big Sky Conference forwards and brothers Tanner and Jacob Groves (Oklahoma), two-time All-Big Sky wing Kim Aiken Jr. (Washington State), two-time All-Big Sky guard Jacob Davison (Cal Poly), Big Sky Reserve of the Year Tyler Robertson (Portland) and guards Jack Perry (Portland) and Mike Meadows (Portland).
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