Bucky Ball is locked and loaded for year two.
On April 6, 2020, Samford Athletic Director Martin Newton hired Bucky McMillan, an enthusiastic, energetic and proven winner known nationally for his coaching at Mountain Brook High School. His hiring created immediate excitement, especially for fans who were familiar with Birmingham-area high school athletics.
This year, much of the excitement comes from the incoming recruiting class for the Bulldogs, which consists of three impact transfers and a four-star recruit.
Wesley Cardet Jr., a 6-foot-6-inch freshman small forward from Orlando, Florida, is probably the most talented recruit Samford has ever signed. He is ranked in the top 100 by 247sports for 2021 basketball recruits nationwide and chose Samford over Alabama, Florida, Illinois and others.
Cardet plays above the rim on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor and is a threat from deep as well. His talent will likely allow him to be an impact player from the very beginning of this season.
While Cardet could still possibly take time to develop into a premiere Southern Conference talent, McMillan has added several proven transfers to complement Cardet.
As for NCAA Tournament experience, Cooper Kaifes, a 6-foot-4-inch shooting guard, has transferred to Samford from Loyola-Chicago. Kaifes shot a ridiculous 46.5 percent from three-point range in his freshman year with the Ramblers. His shooting from beyond the arch is a much-needed piece in the offense, considering that the Bulldogs finished last in the SoCon for three-pointers made (151).
The two other transfer additions, Ques Glover and Jermaine Marshall, could be equally as impactful for the Bulldogs. Glover is a 6-foot guard who transferred from the University of Florida. The Tennesee-native averaged 21 points-per-game in high school, and could potentially be a standout guard on McMillan’s offense. He had limited playing time while at Florida, but still appeared in 51 games over two years.
Birmingham-native Jermaine Marshall is a 6-foot-6-inch forward who has transferred back to his hometown from the University of Akron. The sophomore began his college career at a Florida junior college, where he nearly averaged a double-double and led his team to a 29-1 record. Marshall may not immediately be a starter, but his athleticism on both ends of the court could be a huge impact for the Bulldogs for the next few seasons.
“We’re just really excited to get going, and we have big expectations for this team,” said returning sophomore guard, Marcellus Vail. Along with plenty of Samford fans, Vail is excited to finally play in front of a packed Pete Hanna crowd after a COVID-riddled 2020.
“We’ve been having really good practices and a good preseason,” he added. “We’re just getting ready to go and excited to have fans in the gym.”
Overall, the Bulldogs are set to have one of the most exciting seasons in program history. McMillan, now with a year under his belt, is set to bring a historically talented recruiting class, experienced playmakers and classic “Bucky Ball” energy to 2021. The Bulldogs have not made the NCAA tournament since the 2000 season, and their quest for glory will begin on Nov.9 against Maryville in the Pete Hanna Center.