LOUDONVILLE — So, why did Nico Clareth change his jersey number?
Well, he’s not really saying.
“Just felt it was time for a change,” Clareth said of wearing No. 25 this season instead of No. 15.
Clareth took part Friday in an intrasquad scrimmage for the Siena College men’s basketball team wearing his new number. The junior’s old number now belongs to freshman Prince Oduro, while redshirt junior Kadeem Smithen has made a switch from No. 14 to No. 5.
Clareth is a fan of Kobe Bryant, who started his career as No. 8 and finished it wearing No. 24 for the Los Angeles Lakers. After first saying Bryant’s change “might have a little bit of influence” on his decision to make a mid-collegiate career switch, Clareth later said it was a primary factor.
“Kobe had a lot to do with it, though,” Clareth said.
Clareth, one of Siena’s co-captains this season along with redshirt junior Kevin Degnan, went through a tumultuous 2016-17 season. He missed games because of suspension, a leave of absence and injury. Clareth’s season, though, hit its high point during the MAAC tournament semifinals. On an injured right ankle, Clareth spurred a comeback win against top-seeded Monmouth with 27 points after halftime. Clareth made 7 of 8 3-pointers during that memorable second half, during which he played 16 minutes and made his first six 3s.
Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos said he had not asked his star player about his number switch.
“I’ve got my own issues. I’ve got a wife, you know? I’ve got a lot of friends. I have people — see, I got my own problems?” Patsos said. “No. Nico’s great. Nico just decided he wants to change his number. That’s fine. It’s 2017. I don’t try to control everything. Players have a lot more freedom . . . and I’m down with that.”
As for why Clareth specifically chose No. 25, he suggested there wasn’t much behind it.
“Fifteen, 25,” Clareth said. “It’s a five thing.”
So . . . could switching to No. 35 be in the works for his senior season?
“Maybe 55,” Clareth said.
Patsos didn’t offer a firm commitment as to who will start for Siena when its opens play Nov. 10 at Charleston, but suggested the five players he’d like to start are Clareth, Oduro, junior Evan Fisher, freshman Roman Penn and sophomore Ahsante Shivers.
Patsos said his “best five” includes Clareth, Oduro, Penn, Shivers and freshman Jordan Horn, but that he’d like to bring one of those players off the bench. For now, that player is Horn, who showed off his deft shooting touch during Friday’s scrimmage.
“My role will be whatever they want me to do,” Horn said. “I don’t try to define myself just as a shooter. I’ll do whatever it is they ask me to do. If shooting is what it is, then I’ll do it.”
Fisher (Achilles) and sophomore Thomas Huerter (knee) did not participate in Friday’s scrimmage, but are expected to return to practice next week. Every other Siena player competed Friday.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.
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Categories: College Sports, Sports