Hudson Valley Sports Report

ANOTHER PLAYER LOSS FOR SYRACUSE IS GAIN FOR MARIST WOMEN

Men’s Team Also Adds Three New Recruits

 

POUGHKEEPSIE – Kiara Fisher, one of nearly a dozen players who left the Syracuse University women’s basketball program en masse at the end of the last season, will transfer to Marist College, it was announced Thursday.

She will be eligible for the 2021-22 season.

Fisher, a 5-foot-7 guard from Elmira, played one season with the Orange in 2020-21 before joining the Red Foxes.

“We are thrilled with the addition of Kiara Fisher to our team,” Marist coach Brian Giorgis said in a statement. “Kiara is a dynamic combo guard who will push tempo, and has great court vision. She is crafty off the bounce, and has tremendous speed and quickness. Adding a guard with ACC experience to our already deep backcourt takes our team to another level.”

In her freshman campaign, Fisher made 10 appearances for Syracuse, making one start. She averaged three points per game, and sank seven of her 11 three-pointers. Her season-high was 11 points and three triples, which she both achieved at North Carolina on December 17, 2020. A month later, she dropped eight points against Miami without missing a shot.

Fisher reunites with rising Marist junior Trinasia Kennedy and rising sophomore Zaria DeMember-Shazer. The trio played AAU basketball together for BNY Select. Fisher and DeMember-Shazer were teammates at Elmira High School as well, where they played five seasons together and won four consecutive Section 4, Class AA titles.

“We have watched Kiara play for a long time with Trinasia and Zaria, and it will be great to see that group together on the court again,” Giorgis said.

Marist head men’s basketball coach John Dunne also announced the addition of three new Red Foxes to the program for the 2021-22 season: Rollin Belton, Samkelo Cele, and Jao Ituka.

“Our program is excited to officially welcome Rollin, Samkelo, and Jao to the Marist family,” Dunne said. “Each one of them boasts unique strengths and abilities on the court that bolster our team in multiple areas. At the same time, they have a common trait in that they are mature young men with exceptional character. They, along with our returning core of student-athletes, will help us continue our work to achieve our goals.”

Here is a closer look at the newest Red Foxes:

Rollin Belton – 6-8/220 – Center – Jonesboro, Louisiana / Ruston
Belton joins the Red Foxes as a freshman after playing scholastically at Ruston High School in Louisiana, where he earned his team’s Defensive Award this season. As a senior, Belton averaged 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks in 21 minutes per game while shooting 53 percent from the field. He helped lead Ruston to a 16-7 record and a playoff appearance as a senior.

Belton participated in several all-star games and elite events in his high school career. These include the 2021 FastBreak All-Star Classic (for the best players in Louisiana), the 2021 Beast of the Week All-Star Game (for the top seniors in north Louisiana, where he participated in the dunk contest), the Mal Mundy Statement Session Tour (September 2020, for Louisiana’s top 30 players), and the 2019 John Lucas Elite Invitational Basketball Camp (held in Houston, Texas for 175 of the top high school players nationwide).

Samkelo Cele – 6-5/210 – Forward – Durban, South Africa / Southern University
Cele is a senior who joins the Red Foxes as a transfer from Southern University, where he played in the 2020-21 season. He led the Jaguars in scoring (11.7 points per game), steals (1.7 per game), three-pointers made (30), free throws made (49), and free throws attempted (65) while averaging 24.6 minutes per game. He shot .426 from the field, .385 from three-point range, and .754 from the free-throw line.

Prior to his arrival at Southern, he played two seasons at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. There, he helped lead the Norsemen to a 52-14 record, two NJCAA Region 2 regular-season championships, and a 2019 berth in the NJCAA National Tournament. As a sophomore, he averaged 15.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game as he shot 51 percent from the field, 41 percent from three-point range, and 80 percent from the free-throw line. Cele played high school basketball at Bull City Prep Academy in Durham, North Carolina.

Jao Ituka – 6-1/196 – Guard – Gaithersburg, Maryland / Gaithersburg
Ituka joins the Red Foxes as a freshman. A three-year varsity starter, Ituka helped guide his team to 56 wins in his career, which included three division titles and a 2018 regional championship. In that span, Ituka scored 1,640 points, and averaged eight rebounds. Off the court, he was an honor roll student in three years as well.

The Maryland native received multiple accolades from local media outlets in his career. After averaging 24.6 points per game in 2018-19 and scoring his 1,000th-career point, he earned Montgomery Sentinel Player of the Year honors. In 2019-20, he was named Montgomery County Player of the Year, notching 26 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists per game. The Washington Post listed Ituka on their All-Met Teams in three straight seasons, including Third Team honors in 2020.

In November, Marist announced the signing of Noah Harris, who will also join the Red Foxes for next season.

Marist is heading into its fourth season under Dunne’s leadership in 2021-22. Last season, the Red Foxes had their highest winning percentage in 14 years.

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