Mike DeGeorge didn’t necessarily go shopping in the NCAA transfer portal. He still ended up with three transfers to add to the Colorado Mesa men’s basketball roster this spring, all with ties to the program.
“We didn’t want to take a chance in transfer portal that wouldn’t be a good fit,” DeGeorge said after announcing the addition of two transfers from the University of Colorado, guards Owen Koonce and Isaac Jessup, and one from Metro State, guard Christian Speller. “These guys have a connection and made good sense with their character. They fit in with our group well.”
Christian Speller is the twin brother of CMU point guard Christopher Speller. He primarily came off the bench for the Roadrunners, playing in 17 games, with four starts. He scored a season-high 10 points against Adams State.
“There’s no question he’s got a lot of potential,” DeGeorge said. “’Pher has such a great approach, the family is great to work with and (Christian’s) got all the physical tools to be successful. There will be a little bit of a transition for him, but the long-term impact he can have, he can be a really good player in our system. He’s a good person and a good athlete.”
Obviously, Speller’s connection to CMU was his brother. Isaac Jessup, a 6-foot-2 guard, played at Resurrection Christian with Reece Johnson, who had an outstanding freshman season for the Mavericks. Jessup played in four games with the Buffaloes this past season.
“Isaac’s skills are very similar to Reece,” DeGeorge said. “They have a lot of similarities and he’s really going to help our shooting. He can really score.”
Jessup scored nearly 17 points a game his senior year of high school, shooting 58% from the field and 44% from the 3-point line.
Koonce, whose father, Nathan, played at Montrose High School and walked on at Colorado (his mother played volleyball for the Buffaloes), is a 6-5 guard who played at Centaurus. DeGeorge said he should be a good counter to Mac Riniker at the small forward spot, able to stretch defenses with his shooting ability.
“He’s a big, strong power athlete and can really score the ball at all three levels,” DeGeorge said. “There are some matchups where maybe we don’t need Mac’s defense and they’re sagging off him, the paint gets clogged up. Owen is the same kind of vertical athlete; Mac is better defensively, but Owen has a different skill set that will stretch the floor and really score.”
DeGeorge is also adding Eric Pollert, a 6-8 post from Steamboat Springs, where Riniker played, to join two other 6-8 incoming freshmen, Ty Allred, from Mona, Utah, and Eddie Kurjak, who played at Longmont. Both signed in November. Pollert is a candidate to redshirt to get some more seasoning.
“He’s only played basketball two years,” DeGeorge said of Pollert, who weighs between 230-240 pounds. “He can jump and run and is an incredibly natural athlete. He’s just not really experienced yet. He’ll make a really good scout team center, and those are hard to find.”
The best thing about the three transfers is they aren’t unknown entities.
“It’s a great situation. We really try to value our current players’ perspective on former teammates or friends,” DeGeorge said. “We found out about Blaise Threatt because Sam Goulet and he played against each other. Christopher and Christian, and you have Reece and Issac, to see them play together in high school, it was a no-brainer.
“A year in a Pac-12 conference practice setting and seeing them grow and develop in that setting, they’ll be able to have a little bit different perspective and be key contributors to our team.”