LOUDONVILLE — A pair of juniors, one with a lifelong connection to the school, are set to depart from the Siena College men’s basketball program.
In a statement released through the school’s athletic department, it was announced Tuesday afternoon that Thomas Huerter and Khalil Richard each asked for, and received, releases and intend to transfer.
Richard is from Maryland, while Huerter played his high school basketball for Shenendehowa and is the son of former Siena player Tom Huerter.
“But this was a personal decision for me and what I thought was best for me,” 22-year-old Thomas Huerter said Tuesday in a phone interview. “That’s all I tried to focus on with it.”
While Richard missed the entirety of the 2018-19 season with an injury he suffered in the preseason, Huerter scored seven points in 23 appearances in his one season playing for Siena head coach Jamion Christian. Huerter said he told Christian of his plans Sunday to transfer.
“For me, there was no hard feelings at all with the school or the coaches,” said Huerter, who appeared in 60 games for Siena during his three seasons with the Saints. “I met with coach Christian and the conversation went very well. I just thought this was a good opportunity for me, both personally and athletically.”
“I absolutely loved coaching Thomas,” Christian said in the school’s statement. “Just a special person with a real passion to make our team better. He will use his ability to graduate early because he has been an exceptional student and done everything the right way. We will miss him greatly, but he will always be a huge part of our Siena family.”
Huerter is on track to graduate this summer, and should be eligible right away to play next season for a new school as a graduate transfer. Huerter will leave Siena with an undergraduate degree in management, and said he’s not yet certain what type of master’s program he wants to pursue. The 6-foot-7 forward said it’s possible he could opt to transfer to play for a non-Division I program.
“Anything is possible right now,” Huerter said. “I’ll gauge that based on the interest I get. Right now, I don’t have any definite plans. . . . Hopefully, I can go to a program where I have the ability to make more of an impact.”
In 59 career games at Siena, Richard averaged 6.4 points per game. Since he didn't play this past season, Richard would appear to be a solid candidate to receive an NCAA waiver to play next season for a new program without having to sit out.
“We wish Khalil the very best,” Christian said in Siena’s release. “Such a talented player and person. He will make an impact on someone’s program right away. Someone is going to get a great player with two seasons remaining.”
In a phone interview, Christian said Siena will look to help Richard gain a waiver to play next season.
“We’re going to fully support him with that with wherever he goes,” Christian said.
The departures open up two more scholarships for Siena for next season. Siena projects to have a young team for next season, and Christian said he won’t hesitate to bring in more freshmen with the available spots.
“We have good experience on the roster already, so I’m not as worried about that,” Christian said. “We just want to make sure we’re bringing in the best talent possible.”
With Huerter and Richard leaving, the only scholarship players remaining at Siena for next season from former head coach Jimmy Patsos' tenure are sophomore Manny Camper and junior Sammy Friday.
Huerter said he didn’t think about his plans for next season until after this year’s MAAC tournament concluded with the Saints falling in the semifinals to Iona.
What he’ll remember most from his years at Siena, he said, is easy to pick out.
“Definitely the relationships with my teammates. That’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Huerter said. “Through the ups and the downs, one thing that was always constant here was our love for each other — our connection. We’ve just always had close-knit locker rooms here.”