WILMINGTON, N.C. — One of the NCAA’s most improved front court rotations for the 2018-19 season got a little bit deeper on Thursday by way of the transfer market.
The UNC Wilmington Seahawks already boast the nation’s top rebounder, in big man Devontae Cacok. The 6’7” forward from Riverdale, CA averaged 13.5 rebounds per game as a junior in 2017-18, which led the country. Add in his 17.7 points per contest, and Cacok is easily one of the top forwards in the country.
After sitting out last season due to transfer, Jeantal Cylla is eligible for the 2018-19 season, and adds more depth to the front court. Cylla played two seasons with the Florida Atlantic Owls, where he averaged 7.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore in 2016-17.
On Thursday, the Seahawks added yet another forward to the mix by way of a graduate transfer.
After three seasons with the Georgia Southern Eagles in the Sun Belt Conference, 6’8” forward Shawn O’Connell is on his way to the Colonial Athletic Association to join the Seahawks for his final year of collegiate eligibility.
Alex Riley, the Seahawks’ beat writer for Star News Online, was the first to break the news of O’Connell’s commitment to UNC Wilmington.
The 6’8” O’Connell made 32 appearances for the Eagles off the bench in 2017-18, averaging 12.4 minutes per night out. He averaged 3.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, while shooting a highly effective 71.4% (45-of-63) from the floor.
O’Connell hasn’t shot worse than 54.5% from the floor in a season over his three year collegiate career at Georgia Southern.
Last season, the depth up front for the Seahawks was an area of concern, so the team set out to address the issue this off-season. With the graduation of Marcus Bryan, the Seahawks were left with just Cacok and Trey Kalina as the only two forwards who played considerable minutes.
The addition of both O’Connell and Cylla will help the depth considerably, as will the return of Matt Elmore, who missed last season due to injury.
– T. Bennett