When a bench player who needs time to work on his game doesn't get a chance to play in a 60+ point dispatching of a Division II opponent in exhibition play, it's clear that the player either violated a rule (like Chris Obekpa) or the team is leaving the option of redshirting said player open.
After the 106-39 beating of Humboldt State, Coach Steve Lavin confirmed what some guessed; 6'4" sophomore guard Felix Balamou will redshirt for the year, as will 6'2" walk-on guard David Lipscomb. Each player will have three years of eligibility left, will practice with the team, and will start next season as sophomores.
6'7" forward Christian Jones didn't see time on the court, either. His status is up in the air, according to Lavin; the team's lack of depth in the paint makes Jones a candidate to get some minutes, but God`sGift Achiuwa's play (so far) is earning him a spot as a space eating, physical big in the paint. Jones has talent and athleticism (and that breakout 10 point, 6 rebound game against Marquette), but could be saved for years where the Johnnies are leaner inside.
Felix Balamou - who was supposed to redshirt LAST season - figured to be at the end of a crowded rotation of wings and guards. Known for his athleticism, but raw, he scored 17 points and collected 11 rebounds... in all of Big East play last season. The lanky
Ghanaian Guinean saw time in the first loss to Georgetown and again for a stretch after D`Angelo Harrison left the team, but he struggled to stay in the rotation.
Balamou sat out the five games in Europe, healing from the ankle injury suffered against Villanova in the Big East Tournament.
We'll always have the double rejection against South Carolina, where he was every bit as effective as high school teammate Chris Obekpa in deterring a shot.
Balamou figures to have a chance for major minutes as a junior in the 2015-16 season, after Harrison, Sir`Dominic Pointer, Jamal Branch, and Phil Greene IV graduate. He's been a low-possession, defensive-minded athletic wing with athleticism.
David Lipscomb's redshirt is intriguing. Redshirts are normally reserved for players who are expected to contribute. Lipscomb, though, saw minutes against Villanova (4), St. Joseph's (7), and Virginia (15); obviously, the coaching staff sees real potential in the guard from Riverdale, GA.