LOUDONVILLE — In a perfect world, Roman Penn would play for the Siena College men’s basketball program next season.
That is according to David Maravilla, the athletic director at Indiana’s Don Bosco prep school, where Penn played before leaving midway through the 2016-17 campaign to enroll early at Siena prior to his freshman season.
“It’s a great program, a great school and obviously Roman loves it there,” Maravilla said Thursday. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but if he ends up leaving, it certainly wasn’t ever his intention to do that.”
But word got out Wednesday evening that both Penn and fellow freshman guard Jordan Horn had been granted their releases. That information was first reported by Spectrum News, and sources confirmed Penn and Horn had started exploring their options — which include potentially staying at Siena — to The Daily Gazette.
During the 2017-18 season, Penn averaged 9.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Horn averaged 7.9 points and made a team-high 48 3-pointers.
A Siena athletic spokesman declined to confirm Horn and Penn had been granted their releases amid the school’s ongoing search for its next head coach, but said the school has been willing to work with student-athletes seeking a change.
“It’s a case-by-case basis,” the spokesman said of players seeking releases. “If they want to explore their options and they follow the process, we’re going to allow them to do that.”
Earlier this week, it was confirmed that freshman Prince Oduro — a MAAC All-Rookie selection — had been granted his release along with another then-unidentified player; that second player was Horn.
Maravilla said Penn — Siena’s best all-around player during a 2017-18 season that ended early for him because of a heel injury — put a lot of thought into his decision to seek a release from the Saints.
“He’s pretty stressed about all of it, to be honest,” Maravilla said. “It’s been a stressful year.”
Siena went 8-24 during the season and the school launched a still-ongoing internal investigation into the men’s basketball program. Former head coach Jimmy Patsos denied all allegations of wrongdoing on his part, but resigned his post on April 13. In the two weeks that have followed, a variety of coaches from across the country have been linked to the Siena job, but the school has stayed quiet on its search. From Siena's last five coaching searches, the latest a hire was made was back in 2000 when the school introduced Louis Orr on April 24. Siena's last three coaching hires have all been introduced no later than April 8.
As of Thursday evening, multiple Siena spokesmen said the school had not made an offer to any candidate to become the school’s next head coach. There had been reports earlier in the day that Jamion Christian, the head coach at Mount St. Mary's, would be the school's next coach.
Along with Horn, Oduro and Penn, it is expected that redshirt junior Kadeem Smithen — who has been set to graduate this spring — will leave the program. Meanwhile, junior Nico Clareth left the program midway through the 2017-18 season, and both of Siena’s freshman recruits for the 2018-19 season have reopened their recruitments.
“The whole situation is pretty unfortunate the way it all played out,” Maravilla said, “and players get caught in the middle of it.”
At the moment, it appears Siena’s next coach could immediately have five open scholarships to work with upon arrival. Still, it is possible any — or all — of the Siena freshmen granted their releases could return to the Saints after exploring their options in the weeks ahead.
“There’s a lot of moving parts,” Maravilla said.