The third time is Terry Nolan Jr.’s charm, Towson men’s basketball

Baltimore native Terry Nolan Jr. is back home, finally landing in Towson, and just like that, coach Pat Skerry talks about going somewhere else and taking the Tigers with him.

Oh, don’t worry, Skerry is one of Nolan’s biggest fans. This was his third recruiting from the nearby Mount Carmel product. First, Nolan went to George Washington out of high school in 2017, then when he was first transferred in 2019 he wanted a big change and headed to Bradley University in Peoria. , Illinois.

Now Nolan is at home helping a Towson team with many moving parts come together. Skerry has said loudly that the widely-traveled graduate student is the key to unlocking the Tigers’ season and freeing this team, which was picked eighth in the Colonial Athletic Association’s preseason poll.

“For us to get to where we want to be he has to be really, really good,” Skerry said.

Nolan, who has enjoyed a great relationship with Towson’s Grade 11 coach over all three recruitments, is not afraid of evaluation.

“This is the reason I came here,” Nolan said. “I already knew that coming home there was a certain pressure that goes with it, but the pressure, honestly, I feel the pressure comes when you’re not prepared for things. I’ve been preparing for it all my life.

There is some truth in Nolan’s statement as there is truth in his bizarre ability to and often dramatically put the ball in the basket against bigger and stronger opponents in the paint. Make no mistake, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound goalie is confident but not arrogant.

The last time he performed in this wooded corner, Nolan led Our Lady of Mount Carmel to the MIAA A conference and the Baltimore Catholic League Championship games and won All-Metro First Team honors. from the Baltimore Sun. He finished with over 1,200 points during a distinguished high school career that captured the attention of college programs across the country. Ahem, including Towson.

But Nolan was planning to travel to Chattanooga from Mount Carmel until Mocs coach Matt McCall left for UMass. George Washington was among the first to reach out when Nolan reopened his recruiting. The Colonials had an opening as a shooting goaltender, especially for one who averaged 17 points, six rebounds and five assists in the tough Catholic League.

But Nolan was not happy at GW. He ranked as the team’s top 3-point shooter in second year and averaged 9.8 points in two seasons as a starter, but by the end of his sophomore year he was again on the move, heading to Bradley where he was absent in 2019-20 when the Braves won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament just before the COVID shutdown.

Nolan returned to start 21 games last year. He finished second on the team in points (11.2 points) and assists (3.3) and won MVC student-athlete team honors, but the pandemic and so does Being so far away from home made him push for another change as the transfer portal upended career continuity throughout the sport.

Skerry and Towson were ready. Again.

“We made fun of him a lot [because] we recruited him twice without success, ”Skerry said with a laugh. “The third time, it’s the charm.”

And getting back close to his Charm City roots was part of the draw this time around for Nolan.

“Finally, being back home and having your support system around you is just great,” he said. “Especially after the COVID season and being away from my family for so long, I just wanted to come home, one, because I had already formed a relationship with Coach Skerry. It was genuine and there was so much respect for me as a player when he signed me.

“That was one factor and the second is that I have a baby girl on the way,” Nolan added, referring to baby Lila, due in December, “and I just wanted that support system around me. [and girlfriend Sherea Byers]. “

Support system? Nolan needs at least 10 tickets for each home game in order to supply his parents, brothers, nieces and friends. He hears them in the stands, feeds on their cheers and knows he made the right decision. He looks around on the pitch and feels the same.

“To play on this Towson team is just amazing,” he said. “We have a good mix of guys – vets and younger guys. The team, in this atmosphere, we really meshed since the summer. Every night we are there to have fun.

The Tigers were 7-4 at the start of the game on December 14, but there are encouraging signs this team may be better than advertised. Nolan, who has scored in double digits in six of the first seven games and has five assists four times during that streak, is a big part of the reason.

“He’s given us a lot of energy on and off the pitch,” Skerry said of his prodigal rookie. “And he has other equipment that he can access.”

Inside the Towson program, the Tigers were anticipating a rollercoaster start. Three key players were operated on in the offseason, and Skerry said the process of bringing them back to full speed slowed the team down a bit early on. Redshirt junior goalie Nicolas Timberlake, who just had surgery for bone spurs, posted a career-high 25 points in a victory over New Mexico at the Las Vegas Invitational over Thanksgiving. Junior Jason Gibson (back surgery) and graduate student Juwan Gray (Achilles) are also recovering from injuries.

“We have a chance to be a really good basketball team, a much better ball movement team than we’ve ever had,” Skerry said, joking about one of his basic basketball beliefs. ball. “We just didn’t shoot it, but we have good shooters so I think it will happen. I hate to use a cliché, but we are a work in progress.

Progress is sometimes a slow process when you call yourself “Transfer U”, a play on “TU”. Towson has six players who have played in other Division I programs including Nolan, Gray (San Diego), Antonio Rizzuto (ULbany), Curtis Holland III (High Point), Chase Paar (GW) and Cam Holden (UT Martin ).

“Guys that we’ve all had successful experiences in programs so they all have experience, know what a walkthrough is, understand screening reports, and know how to find the training table, tangible things they can build on, ”Skerry said. “Terry was a real leader for us. I’m high on the guy. He played really well, but I think he can be great for us – an elite player on both sides of the ball.

Nolan was third on the team in scoring (12.0 points per game) and led assists (4.3) out of the gates. His 22.8% of three shots are also expected to climb.

“It’s about having the right mindset,” he said. “You have to stay consistent through the ups and downs and that’s what I tell all young people.”

No doubt, Nolan keeps the faith. He is a devout Christian and searches the internet for inspiring sermons and speeches every day to keep him grounded and focused. Skerry loved the strong family foundations that parents Terry Sr. and Danielle provided for Terry Jr., and his maturity is an asset to the Tigers.

He already graduated in advertising and public relations from Bradley and even started a t-shirt business called “Impetuous” in 2019 and had some success. He’s left the business with the varsity athletics hub to name, image and likeness opportunities, but it’s not high on his to-do list these days.

Nolan is so happy to be back home and playing for Towson that he would probably give his teammates the Impetuous T-shirt on his back.

“We all came here with the bigger idea of ​​just winning,” he said. “They’re really the best group of guys I’ve been around. We come from very different backgrounds, but we have a lot of similarities and share the same motivation. “

There’s a lot of dynamism in this team, but the Tigers are counting on Nolan to take the wheel and get them where they want to be.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Towson Athletics

Number 272 December 2021 / January 2022

Originally posted Dec 15, 2021