The Austin Peay men’s basketball team will be short some big men going into the 2021 season.
Forward Eli Abaev has entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal, as first reported by Travis Branham of 247sports. The redshirt senior averaged 7.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 30 games this season.
Abaev started in all 30 games played, serving as the third option offensively behind Terry Taylor and Jordyn Adams.
The Eastern Florida State transfer earned career-highs across the board in the final month of regular season play: Abaev earned 18 trips to the free-throw line Feb. 15 against Eastern Kentucky, scored 19 points Feb. 20 vs. SIU-Edwardsville and hauled in 14 rebounds Feb. 29 at Mu**ay State.
Sam DeVault was extremely limited as a true freshman, playing in only 16 games, but shot 76% from the field alongside 62% from three. The Memorial High School (Ind.) product announced his decision to transfer March 13 via twitter.
Abaev and DeVault took to twitter to announce their school of choice for the remainder of their athletic eligibility. DeVault committed to soon-to-be Division one Bellarmine University, while Abaev returned home to Florida Gulf Coast University.
The departures of Abaev and DeVault leave a lack of depth for Matt Figger’s team down low next season: Sita Conteh and Matheus Silveira are viewed as the lone replacements on the current roster. That duo averaged a shade over five minutes per game throughout their final five contests.
While Conteh may the most experienced of the two players to replace Abaev’s starting job, the junior lost a role in the rotation late this season. Conteh averaged 11 minutes per game while notching 3.1 points and 1.1 rebounds in 2020.
Silveira saw more playing time than Conteh down the stretch, logging a career-high of 18 minutes in a Feb. 27 game against Morehead State. In his sophomore campaign, the center from Tres Pontas, Brazil averaged two points and 1.5 rebounds per game.
With the lack of depth and experience on the current roster, the Governors’ hand may be forced to delve into intentional high school recruitment towards a starting big man.
If the high school route bears no fruit, the Govs are no stranger to the transfer portal as well. Over Figger’s three seasons in Clarksville, the Governors have brought in nine transfers as key role players for APSU. That trend continues with junior college transfer Merdy Mongozi.
Mongozi, a seven-footer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, recently finished his career at South Georgia Technical College. Starting in 25 of 30 games, the former Jet hauled in 4.4 rebounds per contest while shooting 47% from the floor. The junior signed his letter of intent to play at APSU Nov. 29.
Along with Mongozi, the Govs still await three decisions from high school forwards in Norchad Omier, Jalen Haynes and Jackson Connor, per verbalcommits.com
Whether through transfers, role players, high school recruitment, or a center position by committee: the Governors will be fine under the basket in regards to the 2021 season. Best of luck to Eli Abaev and Sam Devault in whatever is next!