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Iona adds juco transfer Shawn Jackson, ninth signee for 2012-13

Iona v Brigham Young

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 13: Head coach Tim Cluess of the Iona Gaels points in the first half while taking on the Brigham Young Cougars in the first round of the 2011 NCAA men’s basketball tournament at UD Arena on March 13, 2012 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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When can a team with a nine newcomers be called ‘experienced’? Iona coach Tim Cluess has the answer.

The New York Post reported the Gaels recently added Shawn Jackson out of Northwest Florida State College, giving them a seventh newcomer on their 2012-13 roster with either junior college or Division I experience.

Jackson, a Live Oak, Fla. native, will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after playing his freshman season at Murray State. The 6-9 forward averaged 3.9 points and 1.1 rebounds in 9.3 minutes with the Racers in 2010-11.

It’s appears Jackson is replacing the void left by the death of incoming forward Michael Haynes, who was tragically shot to death outside his home in Chicago in July.

As for the 2012-13 Gaels, they have more newcomers (nine) than returnees (four). With the addition of Jackson, in total, the incoming class includes two Division I transfers in Tavon Sledge (Iowa State) and Curtis Dennis (Toledo), five junior college transfers and two true freshman according to a July release on the team website.

The Gaels have a massive hole to fill with the graduation of point guard Scott Machado, who led the nation at 9.09 assists per game last season. Dennis could help somewhat, averaging 1.5 assists per game in two seasons at Toledo, but I’d believe Cluess knows that every recruiting class doesn’t automatically include the next Machado. Sean Armand (9.5 ppg) and Lamont “MoMo” Jones (15.7) return as the top scoring threats.

Norvel Pelle, a former St. John’s commitment, also recently picked the Gaels. The article also states that a source told The New York Post that Iona is still awaiting word on his eligibility.

Obviously, Fred Hoiberg and Iowa State showed the world last season that winning with an abundance of transfers can happen (anyone else see the irony in Iona getting a transfer from Iowa State?) but at a place like Iona that’s going to be tough. The Gaels are going to be undersized — Jackson and JuCo transfer DeSean Anderson are the only players taller than 6-7 on this year’s team — but if this team can get behind Armand and Jones as the lead dogs, there’s no reason it can’t compete for the automatic bid in the MAAC and a second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.