A day after former Loyola men’s basketball center Cameron Krutwig announced he would be waiving his NCAA eligibility to declare for the NBA draft, the team released a one-minute video announcing the return of the rest of the team’s seniors.
Senior guards Lucas Williamson and Keith Clemons, redshirt senior guard Tate Hall and redshirt senior forward Aher Uguak will be returning to the team, meaning four of the five “starting seven” who were set to graduate will be returning.
While these players were seniors this year, the NCAA expanded eligibility for student-athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing them to come back and play for an extra year.
“All four of them have meant so much to us sustaining the culture and competing for championships,” Loyola head coach Drew Valentine said in a statement. “The fact that they all feel like they’ve got more to accomplish as a college basketball player is very exciting for our program.”
While losing Krutwig — the 2021 Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Player of the Year and only Rambler to make the First Team All-MVC this year — leaves big shoes to fill, the returning seniors are heavily decorated themselves.
In March, Williamson was named the MVC Defensive Player of the Year and was placed on the Second Team All-MVC. Uguak earned Third Team All-MVC accolades and joined Williamson on the conference’s All-Defensive Team.
Bouncing back from large players leaving the team is something the Ramblers are used to, and Clemons was at the helm of this.
After back-to-back MVC Player of the Year winners Marques Townes and Clayton Custer left the team, Clemons helped break the team’s 3-4 start to the 2019-2020 season, playing a large part in their 9-2 run that followed. He has since shot 45 percent from three-point territory while at Loyola.
“We all complement each other and just bring what we can to the table,” Hall told The Phoenix in February. “We have a variety of weapons, a lot of shooters, a lot of people that can play off the ball. That’s kinda hard to scout against.”
The Ramblers also return eight other rostered players. MVC All-Tournament player redshirt sophomore guard Braden Norris, 2020 Sixth Man of the Year sophomore guard Marquise Kennedy and first-year center Jacob Hutson — who added some major minutes during Loyola’s 2021 March Madness run — are all expected to play in the 2021-22 season.
In total, Loyola is slated to return 73.8 percent of its scoring from last season.