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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
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Acquiring new talent

Graduate transfer Troy Holston (Photo courtesy of SJU Athletics)

Men’s basketball signs two additional players over the summer

The St. Joe’s men’s basketball program has had an unconventional summer to say the least.

On July 9, just over a week after junior guard Nick Robinson transferred to Valparaiso University due to “family circumstances,” the Hawks signed Troy Holston Jr., graduate transfer from the University of South Florida. Two weeks later on July 24, incoming freshman Valdir Manuel, a four-star center out of the Patrick School, signed an athletic aid commitment with St. Joe’s.

Head Coach Phil Martelli certainly found the “missing pieces to the puzzle” after Robinson’s transfer. As one of those pieces, Holston plans on accomplishing lofty goals throughout his time on Hawk Hill.

“I want to cut down nets,” Holston said he told Martelli. “And I want to get to the NCAA tournament. I don’t want to sell myself short of that. I believe in the team that we have and in adding myself, that we can win.”

Holston has struggled throughout his collegiate career with injuries. He tore his ACL in both the 2015-16 and 2017-18 seasons at USF. Over the past year, Holston has focused on improving his fitness and health.

“I feel like I’m stronger, I’m leaner,” Holston said. “I’ve been paying attention to my body and just focusing in on what I could focus on.”

As a veteran player, Holston said he’s ready to take responsibility as a leader.

“I want to win,” Holston said. “I want to be an immediate impact player and someone that has the responsibility of wins and losses. I want to come here and be a leader.”

Greatness is something that most athletes chase after and rarely attain. In Holston’s case, reaching it is always on his mind.

“I’m obsessed with [achieving greatness],” Holston said. “I can come in from day one and make an immediate impact and make guys better.”

One of those guys, Valdir Manuel, who is ranked 17th on ESPN’s top centers list and 29th on ESPN’s 2018 top east recruits list, said he’s ready to begin his career as a Hawk.

“I’m very excited and looking forward to playing with this team,” Manuel said. “I’m ready and can pretty much do everything on the court. I think my game can fit at St. Joe’s right now. I can help this team.”

Manuel attended the Patrick School, which has a highly competitive basketball program. Notable alumni include former Hawk standout Deandre Bembry and Celtics guard Kyrie Irving. John Allen, Manuel’s guardian, mentioned that his high school career has prepared him for the next step at St. Joe’s.

“He’s hard-working and also a good guy to be around,” Allen said. “If you ask any of his teammates, they all seem to gravitate towards him. I expect the same thing to happen at St. Joe’s.”

After moving to the U.S. from Luanda, Angola in 2015, Manuel started to pick up basketball as his main sport, forgoing soccer. A few years later during his senior year of high school, Manuel verbally committed to Seton Hall University. However, he never officially signed.

Martelli said that Manuel is joining a team that has exhibited tremendous work ethic and improvement over the summer.

“We expect that Valdir will enhance our chances to achieve great success this season,” Martelli said.

Manuel said that he enjoyed how comfortable Martelli made him feel throughout the recruitment process and that they now have a great relationship.

“He made me feel at home during the official visit,” Manuel said. “He was honest with me and I like to talk to him because he can make me be a pro.”

Manuel’s ability to bring a unique set of skills to the court is apparent from his high school career. However, learning from veteran leaders is something that he is also open to.

“I want to do the things that coach needs me to do on the court,” Manuel said.“I can bring a lot of toughness. I’m vocal on the court. I can bring a lot of good things but at the same time I can learn from the older guys.”

With these two additions, St. Joe’s looks forward to their most anticipated season since winning the A-10 Championship back in 2016. They begin the 2018-19 season at home against Old Dominion University on Nov. 9.

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