In the following weeks, The Post will analyze Ohio men’s basketball roster and their potential impact in 2016-17.
This week, The Post will look at forward Wadly Mompremier and his final season with the Bobcats:
Earlier this summer, Wadly Mompremier walked into Ohio coach Saul Phillips’ office and mentioned transferring. Rumors swirled he wanted to move closer to his hometown of Miami.
Phillips, though, could tell something was off about Mompremier.
Friend and teammate Antonio Campbell knew something was a bit off, too.
“It was funny because we were talking about a variety of things, and then (Mompremier wanting to leave) came up pretty quick and rushed and didn’t seem like that (was) what he came in there to tell me,” Phillips recalled. “So, I said, ‘Listen, I’m not going to tell you no. I’m not going to give you a release right now. What I want you to do is really think about talking to your teammates about this' because he is a really popular kid on the team.”
Phillips didn’t want Mompremier to leave. The coach knew the senior forward was close to graduating and couldn’t stomach seeing someone leave school with a specialized studies degree within reach.
So after some thought, Mompremier is still in Athens, healthy and ready to contribute when needed.
“Wadly coming back is huge,” Campbell said. “With him deciding he wanted to transfer, a lot of the guys kind of got upset, and when he decided he wanted to stay, everybody stuck with it.”
Last year, Mompremier played mostly back-up to Campbell, including a promising double-double against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 15, 2015 when Campbell struggled with foul trouble.
"I think I surprised a lot of people,” Mompremier said after the win.
A surprise it was.
Up to that point, minutes had come sparingly to Mompremier — who has battled Crohn's disease throughout his Bobcat career. Crohn's disease is a disease that affects the digestive tract and causes inflammation.
The breakout performance was why former Bobcat coach Jim Christian recruited Mompremier back in 2013.
And the double-double was a sign Mompremier is still a valuable asset to Ohio, despite previous health concerns. Mompremier has length, is solid when facing up defenders and obtains a meaningful mid-range game. He also helped grabbed 32 offensive rebounds last year, third-most on the team.
“He is a shy and quiet guy at first, but once you get to know him, he really opens up,” Miami Senior High School head coach Marcus Carreno said when Mompremier was recruited in 2013. “He is a great teammate and always puts forth the maximum effort on the floor. He wants to do what's best for his family and those are values you don't always see."
No, Mompremier won’t be the bulldozer the Bobcats need on the low-post — that may be a role for Jason Carter — but the Bobcats are glad to see Mompremier stay in Athens for one final year.
“Coach believes in Wadly. Everybody here believes in Wadly,” Campbell said.