It took much longer than expected.
But ultimately, Ahmad Rand and Bart Lundy are on the same side with Rand, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, who is expected to play a big role this season for Lundy’s UW-Milwaukee men’s first-team basketball team.
Rand, a native of Lincolnton, Georgia, joins the Panthers after a circuitous college career that saw him play his first and second seasons at USC-Salkehatchie in Allendale, South Carolina.
He played three games at the University of Memphis during the 2020-21 pandemic season, then transferred to Oregon State, where Rand averaged 13.5 minutes over 29 games for the Beavers l ‘last year.
Rand averaged 5.3 points on 53.8 percent shooting, 2.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the Beavers.
Now with the Panthers, Rand is in a position to make a big impact.
“It’s funny,” Lundy said Tuesday at UWM’s annual media day. Lundy first recruited Rand while coaching Division II at Queen’s University in Charlotte.
“I brought him in as a high schooler; we were the only ones recruiting him. I didn’t take him. He went to college. I could have had him after his freshman year, I didn’t. not taken.
“He kind of blew his sophomore year, goes to Memphis. Goes to Oregon State, didn’t like his experience there. And so when he decided to transfer here, I had brought in twice for official visits and he was like, ‘Coach Lundy, I’ve always wanted to play for you.
“So it kind of worked out.”
Rand is one of 13 stunning new players at UWM this season and one of the few who could make a real impact in a Horizon League that is sending top talent elsewhere but has also lost quite a bit to transfer.
“He’s super athletic,” Lundy said. “He might be the most athletic kid in the league. He can really block shots. His offense is all around the edge. He can get out there and shoot a bit, but he’s more of a defensive presence.”
What did the affair with Lundy ultimately mean for Rand?
Enough for him to pay himself to do it.
“He said, ‘I’d rather pay myself and play for you than try my luck with other people I don’t know for a year,'” Lundy said. “He would have gone to the high major.
“I wish we had him for over a year.”
Lundy had a purse left over after another signee, point guard Eden Holt, unexpectedly left, but Lundy had to use it to land Holt’s replacement at Kentrell Pullian.
“(Rand) was like, ‘I get it.’ You don’t find that very often.” Lundy said.
With Rand and 7-1 returnee Moses Bol scouring the paint this season, UWM’s home defense should indeed be formidable as the Panthers seek a quick turnaround from their 10-22, 8-14 finish in 2021-22. .
“We have amazing rim protection,” Lundy said. “If anyone has, at our level, better rim protection in the country, I would like to see it.”
What’s the point
Pullian, a 6-0 sophomore from Benton Harbor, Michigan, received the last available scholarship from UWM and joins a slew of players capable of playing point guard.
“It’s the only place where we have five guys who could probably play point guard,” Lundy said. “I just don’t think you can win in college basketball if you don’t have a point. Maybe I was recruiting too much.
“Guys can do other things, but they can also play point.”
Pullian is a junior college transfer like Angelo Stuart and Justin Thomas. Elijah Jamison, who finished with the fifth-highest career points in North Carolina high school history with 2,664, and Brian Taylor are also in attendance.
“He’s a big, strong playmaker,” Lundy said of Pullian. “Can really shoot. Has good speed and quickness. Good IQ. We came across a really good player. We were signing him in the summer and he was our number 1 for next year.
“He was going to Northwest Florida Junior College and came on an unofficial visit, he and his mother came here, and at the end of the visit they said, ‘What about this year?
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”
UWM has already suffered a backcourt hit with UNC-Pembroke transfer Jordan Ratliffe suffering a torn ACL in practice.
“It hurts us,” Lundy said. “That was about three weeks ago. His tenacity, his playing experience. We still have his voice, which is important because he’s a big boy, a great leader.
“He’s going to have surgery and come back.”
The 5-10 Ratliffe, who played his freshman year at Virginia Military Institute and the last three years at UNC-Pembroke, is an entrepreneurship student who previously earned a master’s degree and is now seeking a doctorate.
If it looks like Megan Walstad has been at UWM forever, you wouldn’t be too far off.
The 6-2 forward is entering her fifth season on the program but is still technically just a redshirt junior. Walstad played as a freshman in 2018-19 and donned a redshirt the following year after blowing out his knee before becoming a force in the Horizon League during the pandemic season as well as last year.
“It’s kind of crazy,” said Walstad, who was named to the All-Horizon League preseason squad earlier Tuesday after averaging 14.4 points on 58.8 percent shooting, 9, 1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 30 games.
“Last year, as a redshirt sophomore, I was like, ‘I may be the oldest sophomore there has ever been. But it’s just a great opportunity to have extra years, extra time to be on the pitch, and I’m excited for this year.”
What is the next challenge for Walstad?
“One big thing that we talked to Megan about is increasing her leadership within the team,” said coach Kyle Rechlicz, whose team was picked to finish fifth in the 11-team league. “I really think our team follows their example and when they are confident, we are really confident.
“We drilled into our guards’ heads the need for an inside-out game and made sure we get Megan, Emma (Wittmershaus) and our other post players the touches they need.”
UWM’s women’s and men’s teams will have highly decorated former state and local high school players on their staff.
Anna DeForge, a Niagara product who graduated in 1994 as the state’s all-time leading scorer for girls, joins Rechlcz’s staff after four years in Nebraska and then a long and distinguished professional career that included eight seasons in the WNBA and two as an all-star.
“She’s a legend in the state and had such a successful professional career,” Recchlicz said. “When we had the position open, I couldn’t think of a better person to fill it. She brings a wealth of knowledge – especially on the player development side, as she was such a good player herself, and she also brought a lot of new ideas to our staff.”
Joining Lundy’s staff are some well-known former guards from the area in Jose Winston of Milwaukee Vincent and Ben Walker of Oak Creek.
Winston was Wisconsin’s Mr. Basketball in 1998 after leading the Vikings to three straight Division 1 state titles and finishing his college career on UWM’s first-ever NCAA Tournament team in 2002-03.
Walker graduated from Oak Creek High School in 1997 after a decorated career there, then played four years at Creighton and spent the past 20 years coaching at both college and Division I level.
“On the outside, these are guys who are from Milwaukee, and they have automatic recruiting ties and connections,” Lundy said. “But I think if you ask (the players), those two are strong, good people of character. Good men. It goes way beyond them just being from Milwaukee.”