University of Richmond basketball coach Chris Mooney said Friday he feels “humbled” that at least three of the five Spiders’ seniors will return to UR as the NCAA allows all winter-sports athletes an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic.
Forwards Grant Golden and Nathan Cayo, and guard Jacob Gilyard are multiple-year starters who announced they will return.
“I’m so happy and proud and thrilled that they’re coming back,” said Mooney, whose team finished last season 14-9 (6-5 A-10). “For them to make that decision and to feel that strongly about Richmond and our program is incredible, and I love them for it. I’m really humbled and overwhelmed.”
Another senior guard who started, Blake Francis, opted to leave UR and begin a professional career. Francis, the Spiders’ leading scorer each of the last two seasons, spent two years at Wagner, transferred to Richmond and sat out a year, and then played the last two seasons at UR.
“For Blake, I feel like I knew his timeline from when he got here,” said Mooney. “I’m proud of him and excited for him and his future. I think he has a laser focus toward the next chapter in his career and we’re really proud that his alma mater and his home in his final game is Richmond.”
The fifth senior, 6-foot-4 Nick Sherod, missed last season because of a knee injury and has not announced if he is returning. Any senior who returns does not count against a program’s 13-man scholarship limit.
Four high school seniors signed with UR in the fall: 5-10 Jason Nelson (John Marshall High), 6-7 Aidan Noyes, 6-4 Malcolm Dread and 6-5 Marcus Randolph. According to Mooney, all remain committed to Richmond.
“We’ve been in communication and as soon as a [senior] has officially decided to return, we’ve talked to them,” Mooney said, referring to the incoming freshmen. “While it’s an unusual year, they’ve just been part of an unusual senior year of high school. The plus of it is they get to join an experienced team that will have a chance to be very, very good.”
With the four incoming freshmen, 10 returning scholarship players, and Sherod, the Spiders would have 15 scholarship players, plus walk-ons. No returning player has entered the transfer portal, according to Mooney. The coach said beyond the potential of Sherod returning, Richmond has no plans at this time to add scholarship players.
“It would have to be some kind of really unique situation that I don’t necessarily see out there,” said Mooney. “I would never say never, but I really don’t see that as a possibility.”
The UR coaching staff remains unchanged, according to Mooney.