SFU’s Nebo to transfer

Josh Nebo needed just two seasons to become one of the most impactful players Saint Francis has had in two decades, but those two seasons are all the Red Flash are going to get out of him.

Nebo, a sophomore from Houston, has decided to transfer, SFU coach Rob Krimmel confirmed Thursday. There’s no word yet on where Nebo is heading, but he wants to get back closer to home, Krimmel said.

“It was a surprise,” Krimmel said. “But in the state of college basketball, I don’t think anything is a surprise at this point.”

Nebo was the Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the Year this season, finishing with a school-record 89 blocks. In only two seasons, he already set the SFU career record for blocks (144), and he posted a single-game school record with eight in the Northeast Conference Tournament semifinals three weeks ago at Wagner.

Nebo averaged 12.0 points and 8.2 rebounds this season and was named third-team all-NEC.

Krimmel said he had a great conversation with Nebo on Wednesday, and the young man expressed how he wanted to be closer to home.

“Loretto, Pa., presented some challenges for his family being so far away,” Krimmel said.

Nebo played on the same high school team as Kentucky standout freshman De’Aaron Fox. He was a late bloomer in high school and didn’t have a lot of offers, but SFU assistant coach Andrew Helton had a recruiting connection from his time as an assistant at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

Nebo decided to come all the way to Saint Francis, and as a freshman last year he showed good potential, averaging 4.9 points and 5.1 rebounds with 56 blocks. He became a major force this year, improving his stock greatly and giving himself a chance to transfer to a much bigger program if he so chooses.

Nebo will have to sit out a year before having two seasons of eligibility.

Krimmel said Nebo did not indicate anything of the sort that he just wanted to leave to go to a bigger program. The decision, the coach said, was simply about being closer to home.

With Nebo, Saint Francis would have had all five starters back from a team that reached the NEC Tournament championship game and was selected to play in the CIT Tournament. The Flash finished 17-17 and should be a challenger in the league again next season, although losing Nebo will hurt.

“We expect next man up mentality,” Krimmel said.

The coach stressed how the program has lost some outstanding players in recent years — such as first-team all-NEC selections Earl Brown and Ronnie Drinnon — yet still was able to keep making progress.

For a program like Saint Francis, in a league like the NEC, getting good players is one challenge, and it’s another challenge to keep them all four years if they become really good.

Big schools are always on the lookout for players transferring from smaller programs, and Krimmel said, “Certainly the epidemic of college transfers has been well documented.”

The NEC has been hit hard by transfers, most notably Robert Morris, which in recent years lost standouts Rodney Pryor to Georgetown and Marquise Reed to Clemson.

“It’s the unfortunate part of our level at this point,” Krimmel said.