Pickett’s status remains uncertain for Siena basketball

News, notes from Siena's introductory press conference for new head coach Carmen Maciariello
Carmen Maciariello is the new Siena head coach.
Carmen Maciariello is the new Siena head coach.

ALBANY — With only a few exceptions, each player on the Siena College men’s basketball roster showed up for Tuesday’s press conference to introduce new head coach Carmen Maciariello.

One of the few missing, though, was freshman Jalen Pickett — the reigning MAAC Rookie of the Year who was a first-team All-MAAC selection.

Maciariello and several Siena players said Pickett couldn’t attend the press conference because he’s been home in Rochester for the last few days with an illness. Maciariello said he has been in “contact every day” with Pickett since former head coach Jamion Christian departed the program for George Washington University last Thursday, and isn’t “overly worried” that Pickett would opt to transfer from Siena.

“He doesn’t want to go sit out,” Maciariello said of Pickett, a player Maciariello helped Siena land last year when he was an assistant coach. “Now, I can’t speculate on what schools are calling him or trying to contact him — technically, no school can contact him, but I’m not naive enough to think people aren’t trying to contact him — but I know he loves his experience at Siena, he loves his teammates and the fact that Elijah [Burns] and Don [Carey] are staying is a big part of that.”

Several of Pickett’s Siena teammates expressed confidence the freshman guard will return to Siena.

“If he was [on campus], he’d be here,” Siena redshirt freshman Jimmy Ratliff said. “He was so set on coach Carm, so I think everything will be good with Jalen. I think everyone will be back, plus some additions.”

“Nothing’s changed,” Carey said of Pickett’s status.

Attempts to contact Pickett’s mother Gwendolyn were unsuccessful. Siena athletic director John D’Argenio said no Saints have requested a release to transfer since Christian’s departure.

Maciariello said he expects to have resolution on Pickett’s status within the next week.

“But there’s no pressure from me,” Maciariello said. “I want him to feel comfortable and do it at his own pace.”

In one of his recent communications with Pickett, Maciariello said the player did ask a question regarding the 2019-20 Saints.

“He was asking me what our gear is going to look like,” Maciariello said with a laugh.


Perhaps the loudest applause awarded during Maciariello’s remarks at Tuesday’s press conference at Times Union Center came when the coach announced that Carey, a sophomore who transferred from Mount St. Mary’s to Siena to follow Christian, “told me today that he’s excited to be a part of what we have going on here.”

Carey was one of several Saints whose future has been the subject of speculation because of his close ties with Christian. The 6-foot-5 guard sat out the 2018-19 season after transferring.

“But it’s for certain,” Carey said. “I’ll be here.”

Carey said he appreciated the way the Siena players handled their brief stretch without a permanent head coach.

“We came together,” Carey said. “We didn’t separate and start doing our own thing.”

Carey told Maciariello that he wanted to remain at Siena while the new head coach was finishing writing his prepared remarks for Tuesday’s ceremony. Maciariello took a break from his work to hug Carey.

“It meant the world to me,” Maciariello said. “I appreciate him believing in me. I believe in him and we’re doing to do this together.”


Signed commits Lucas Sutherland and Kyle Young have each confirmed plans to still attend Siena next season, while Shawn Walker has not.

Maciariello said he has communicated with Walker a desire for the player to still come to Siena, but that the decision is up to the 6-foot-6 guard from Virginia.

“I love Shawn,” Maciariello said, “but, at the end of the day, he has to want to come here.”


Ratliff said Siena players found out about Christian’s departure via Twitter a few minutes before a team meeting that had been scheduled to alert them of the news.

“It was like a punch in the face,” Ratliff said of first seeing Christian had left. “That was out of nowhere. . . . It was the most unexpected thing.”

Ratliff, though, said he didn’t hold it against his former coach for making the move.

“Best of luck to him,” Ratliff said. “He’s got to do what’s best for him.”


Maciariello said he expects to figure out the rest of his coaching staff within the next week.

“I’ll try to probably hire guys that I know, have worked with or am familiar with,” said Maciariello, who said “veteran leadership” will be valued.

Maciariello said he has consulted with mentors such as Providence head coach Ed Cooley and Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery — for whom Maciariello served as a director of basketball operations for during McCaffery’s first season at Siena — for advice on how to proceed. Siena’s new head coach said he is looking to create a well-rounded coaching staff.

“I’m not trying to find someone like me,” Maciariello said. “I need people that are different from me.”

Current Siena director of basketball operations Harley Fuller is expected to be promoted to an assistant coach.

Categories: -Sports, College Sports

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