ST. BONAVENTURE — Given how little the bench was used toward the end of the year, it seemed almost certain the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team would see one or more offseason departures.
So far, one player has gone public with that intention.
Tshiefu Ngalakulondi, known primarily to Bona fans as “Chef,” will transfer out of the program, he announced on his Twitter page Monday. Although it’s unclear where the 6-foot-7 forward might be headed, he made it known in a brief, but sincere message that he will not be returning to the Bonnies.
“I would like to thank the St. Bonaventure community and fans for their support over the past two years,” he said. “I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to experience the unparalleled camaraderie shown by you all. Also, thank you to the coaching staff and my teammates for all the great experiences.
“With that being said, I have decided to continue my academic and athletic career elsewhere. Looking forward to what the future holds and wishing the Bonnies continued success.”
Ngalakulondi had a couple of nice moments as a freshman in 2017-18, scoring a career-high 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting in a win over Maryland-Eastern Shore and collecting one of the biggest buckets of the year — the go-ahead dunk late in the Bonnies’ thrilling 115-113 triple-overtime victory over Davidson. Given the opportunity to start early this season due to the injury to LaDarien Griffin, he followed with a few strong outings, going for double-doubles in losses to Niagara (14 points, 13 rebounds) and Akron (11 points, 12 boards).
Overall, however, he and the team didn’t fare particularly well when Bona was down as many as three starters in November and December. And as Bona became healthier, he was resigned to a more permanent place on the bench.
Ngalakulondi played just 12 total minutes during the conference season and didn’t appear in any of the Bonnies’ final 10 games. His last action came when he played one minute in a road win over Saint Joe’s on Feb. 12.
The Manchester, N.H., product, considered a quality signing out of Proctor Academy in the fall of 2017, appeared in 37 total games, averaging 3.0 points on 45 percent shooting and three rebounds in 10 minutes. Though he was never able to truly crack the rotation outside of the extended minutes he received early this year, he was part of teams that won an NCAA Tournament game (in 2017-18) and reached the A-10 Tournament championship game (this year).
With Ngalakulondi’s departure — and including the additions of prep standout Justin Winston and junior college transfer Matt Johnson for next season — Bona, for the moment, has 10 scholarship players, leaving three rides available for 2019-20.
The regular signing period for the Division I level runs from April 19-May 15.