Updated: July 15, 2014 at 2:41 p.m.
Head coach Mike Lonergan talks to his bench during the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Hatchet File Photo
Men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan, while head coach at the University of Vermont, made Tyler Cavanaugh his first-ever scholarship offer when Cavanaugh was a sophomore at Jamesville-Dewitt High School in DeWitt, N.Y. more than four years ago.
Cavanaugh wound up at Wake Forest and Lonergan at GW. But after electing to transfer from Wake Forest in mid-June, Lonergan found a rare second opportunity to recruit the 6-foot-9 forward.
Cavanaugh announced Thursday on Twitter that he will join the Colonials next season. In addition to GW, Cavanaugh visited Dayton and Butler before making his choice. He also drew interest from Colorado, Davidson, Providence and Oregon.
He will have to sit out the 2014-15 season per NCAA transfer guidelines, but Lonergan will get the remaining two years of eligibility from Cavanaugh, whose transfer availability transformed into a mini mid-major sweepstakes during the first part of the summer.
The forward, a true stretch four with good three-point range, averaged 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during his sophomore season at Wake Forest. He started 22 of 33 games after averaging 5.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game as a freshman. Cavanaugh scored a career-high 20 points against No. 16 Duke on March 5.
His two best rebounding performances last season came against frequent opponents of the Colonials: Cavanaugh had a nine-rebound effort in a win against Richmond and an eight-rebound effort in a win against St. Bonaventure.
But as the Demon Deacons underwent a leadership change from head coach Jeff Bzdelik, who recruited Cavanaugh, to Danny Manning in the spring, combined with the loss of several key players, Cavanaugh decided to transfer.
Cavanaugh told the Syracuse Post Standard that he no longer felt he could accomplish his goals of making an NCAA tournament and winning a conference championship at Atlantic Coast Conference-member Wake Forest, and he wanted to find a school where those ambitions were a realistic possibility.
Lonergan is not the only GW coach who is familiar with Cavanaugh’s high school roots. Assistant coach Carmen Maciariello, who joined the staff in May, is a former coach of Cavanaugh’s Amateur Athletic Union team, Albany City Rocks, though he was the coach before Cavanaugh’s days with the team.
Cavanaugh is the second transfer to join the Colonials during this offseason, along with former Division III guard Matt Hart, who comes from Hamilton.
Since taking the reigns of the men’s basketball team in 2011, Lonergan also successfully recruited transfers Isaiah Armwood in 2011, Maurice Creek in 2013 and Ryan McCoy, who sat out last year.
This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that head coach Mike Lonergan had courted Tyler Cavanaugh for four years. He only tried to recruit Cavanaugh four years ago and had a second chance when the now-junior decided to transfer this year. Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that GW played Wake Forest last year. The Colonials did not play the Demon Deacons, though Wake Forest played frequent GW rivals Richmond and St. Bonaventure. Also due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported the number of transfers that Lonergan has recruited. We regret these errors.