Lipscomb returns only 3 players who logged more than 7.2 minutes per game: the 6’5” Smith twins, sophomores Malcolm and Martin, and guard Deonte Alexander, leaving them with less experience than any other ASun team. Losses include post player Justin Glenn, shooters Jordan Burgason and Jacob Arnett, guard Zavion Williams, swingman Damarius Smith, and Marvin Williams. The Smith brothers and Alexander were good, and should be better the second time around. A good round of recruits include 6’7” 230 JUCO Oscar Garcia (31 games, 7.1 ppg, 43%, no 3’s, 46% ft, 4.1 rpg, 0.2 blk, 0.6 stl, 1.3 ast, 1.5 t.o.), who will be counted on heavily for size and muscle inside, 6’4” JUCO Khion Sankey (32 games, 7.2 ppg, 32% 3’s, 62% ft, 5.4 rpg, 2.9 ast,, and 6 freshmen, led by 6’9” 190 Memphis freshman Charles Smith and John Ross Glover 6’4” sg, the Tennessee DII A ‘Mr. BasketBall’ as a Junior, and a Parade All-American (one of 40) as a senior, averaging 30 ppg and 7.2 rpg http://www.lipscombsports.com/mbasketball/news/2012-13/7304/john-ross-glover-named-parade-all-american/
6’10” 285 Stephen Hurt was supposed to be on last year’s roster but was dropped early. He appears again on this year’s preseason roster, still listed as a freshman. This is the second year of heavy recruiting in a rebuilding campaign. Last year, in their second year of heavy recruiting, both Mercer and USCU made huge strides forward. But I don’t think that Lipscomb is as far along as those teams were. This will probably take some time.
NKU is a long way from Belmont – but was a very good D2 team, going 23-7, ranking 11th nationally and qualifying for the NCAA DII tournament for the second year in a row. They lost in the first round, 60-59. The season included an 11/4/2011 exhibition win over 19-14 West Virginia in Morgantown. That was West Virginia’s first time on the floor for the season. The Mountaineers apparently had a pretty rough early season: they also dropped a November 15 game to Kent State in Morgantown, 70-60, and barely beat Oral Roberts on November 11, 78-71. http://www.wvusports.com/schedules.cfm?sport=mbball Kent State went on to lose to USCU in the CIS tournament. Speaking of USCU, you may remember that the post transfer USCU bunch was not an easy out in their first ASun year, even though they had been 9-7 in their D2 conference the prior season. Belmont will likely struggle a bit next year as both post players (Hedgepeth and Saunders) graduate. Their replacement is talented, but more of a perimeter guy: 3rd team All SoCon 6’9” JR Drew Windler, a RS JR Samford transfer who averaged 14.4 ppg shooting .426 from 3, but only 3.8 rebounds and 0.4 blocks. Point guard Drew Hanlen also goes. Incoming recruits are all guards, although one, Craig Bradshaw, sounds like another Justin Hare, a physical scrapper who won TN AA POY and AA State Tourney MVP. Belmont will rely on senior guards Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson, and hope that 6’11” Chad Lang and 6’7” Trevor Noack can do more inside than they’ve shown thus far.This year Belmont would probably not have been favored over Mercer, but still would have contended for the ASun crown. NKU probably won’t do that. NKU loses 3 of the 6 guys who logged over 21 minutes in their rotation, including leading scorer Jon Van Hoose, but bring in two highly touted guards, Tyler White, 6’3” Lima, OH, Twice an Honorable Mention big school All-Ohio, and Todd Johnson 5’8” Honorable Mention Indiana All-State. Other recruits are a pair of 6’8” twins, Jacob and Justin Rossi of Franklin, OH and 6’6” Jack Flournoy (Oak Hill; Woodberry, VA) who got offers from West Virginia, Marshall and Ohio U. before tearing an ACL, John Staley, 6’5” forward Dayton Chaminade-Juliene – 17.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg. Nate Snodgrass6’1” FR PG from Butler, PA – 21.2 ppg, 5.2 assists. They are not an especially big team – the only returning players over 6’5” are 6’7” 190 Ernest Watson (6.3 ppg and 4.7 rpg in 17.4 minutes) and 6’6” 225 Jalen Billups. (5.0 ppg and 2.5 rpg in 9.5 minutes) But this is another ambitious young program that is likely to become a strong addition to the ASun in relatively short order.
Kennesaw has some guys who can play basketball in Cummings, Love and Anderson, and a good recruiting haul. Their best announced signee, 6’7” Brandon Williams, rated 88 by ESPN, who looks like a young Isiah Brown is NOT on the roster. But they do bring in Gwinnett County GA POY 5’9” Yonel Brown; and highly touted 6’1” Myles Hamilton of Ohio Final Four team Cleveland St. Edwards, a 2nd team big school All-Ohio, and 6’5” freshman guard Jordan Montgomery. Nick Turner, Spencer Dixon, Romain Henry and Mirza Sabic leave. They should be better than last year’s 3-28. And still better in 2013-2014 when Auburn transfers Willy Kouassi 6’10” Rivals 4 star ranked 7th center in nation, ESPN 3 star rated 90; and Bernard Morena 6’8” Rivals 3 star ESPN 3 star rated 90, become eligible. If the freshmen can produce, these guys will be a hard out going into the conference tourney.
Stetson started with new coach optimism for Casey Alexander but finished poorly. The model that he was emulating was clear as the Hatters finished second only to Belmont in assists and 3 pointers made. But although Alexander returns his top 6 players, he might be better advised to clean house and hit the recruiting trail if he can’t get a better effort out of his returnees than he got down the stretch last year. In any case he will have a job convincing those who return that they can win. As with Jacksonville, it’s still hard to see them being worse than this year’s 9-20 (6-12 in conference). Kyle Sicora 7’0” 240 transfer arrives from Oakland where he averaged 1.5 points and 1.8 rebounds in 10 minutes over 33 games. Also freshmen 6’6” 215 Adeleke Solanke; 6’0” Indiana guard Logan Irwin; 6’7” 205 Brian Pegg, and 6’2” Tanner Plemmons. They lose Tyshawn Patterson, Amara Thompson, Jermol Paul and Diego Morales.
The Ospreys seemed to plateau a bit this past season after 2 years of big improvement. Mercer, USCU and FGCU stepped on past them. UNF never really found a strong replacement for graduated point guard Haugabrouck (Will Wilson didn’t do the job). They hope that freshman Ray Rodriguez will fill that gap this year. UNF brings back everybody but role players Jimmy Williams and Matt Sauey, and will have a senior laden team with experienced scorers Jerron Granberry and Parker Smith, and with inside players Andy Diaz, and David Jeune joined by Junior Travis Wallace. Williams had the muscle and athleticism to give them a change of pace penetrator, and he will be missed. They do get some extra length in highly touted 6’8” 195 FR guard Beau Beech, 6’8” 190 Fr Demarcus Daniels and 6’7” 180 Fr. Cameron Naylor. A short front line has given them matchup problems against Mercer. If senior leadership counts for something, these guys should be better.
FGCU Mercer and USCU made a name for themselves with post season tournament wins, so it is easy to forget that FGCU beat them both in the ASun tournament. They came on strong for new coach Andy Enfield behind 2 All-Freshmen guards (Bernard Thompson and Brett Comer). They lose only role player Kevin Cantinol and a third freshman guard (Dante Holmes). Cantinol will be replaced in post by Iowa State transfer sophomore Eric McKnight who was a highly touted, super athletic 6’9” player coming out of high school, (3 star, rated 91 by ESPN, highest of any ASun athlete). McKnight ought to do far better than Cantinol’s 2.8 points and 3.0 rebounds. They have lots of good shooters but are perimeter heavy, outside of McKnight, with no strong, physical 3 or 4 types to fill the gap between four very skilled 6’3” and under guards and the 6’9” McKnight. 6’8” players Fieler and Murray play soft, and 6’9” Filip Cvjeticanin is sort of like a European Kenyona Swader: very long at 6’9”, athletic, with a fantastic perimeter shot (56-130 for .431 from 3), but not strong inside. One or two of those 3 need to develop more inside game. Anthony Banks, one of the best athletes in the ASun left the team when coach Andy Enfield arrived, and would have filled that inside gap very nicely at a superbly athletic 6’6”. But he’s long gone. The inside gap should be filled nicely in 2013-2014 as 2 very promising transfers, 6’10” Nate Hicks of Georgia Tech and 6’6” 210 Jamail Jones of Marquette, become eligible. Dajuan Graf is being touted as the prize recruit as a speedy point guard: http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2012/aug/01/mens-basketball-fgcu-will-chart-new-course-graf-po/ Recruiting includes 6’9” 190 freshman Leonard Livingston (said to be a redshirt candidate). 6’3” freshman guard Alex Blessig arrives from Germany but faces a crowded guard scene. The team took 7 men on a summer trip to the Bahamas (McKnight and Varidel did not go, although top recruit Graf did), crushing 3 weak opponents. Lots of enthusiasm seems to surround this program, one of the most improved in the ASun.
USC-Upstate had 2 years of great recruiting turning the most unathletic team in the league into perhaps the most athletic, leading the league in rebound margin, 2nd in blocked shots, 2nd in steals and 2nd in turnover margin. Their front line of 6’7” Babatunde Olumuyiwa, 6’8” Jodd Maxey and 6’8” 246 Ricardo Glenn is physical as well as athletic. Most impressive of all is 6’6” ASun Player of the Year Torrey Craig, who could take over a game, averaging 16.4 points and 7.7 rebounds. Less athletic holdovers like Carter Cook and Chalmers Rogers were chased to the bench last season by the young guys. They return everyone of importance, including POY Craig and Freshman of the Year Ty Greene. They finished the season strong by beating Kent State in the CIT, earning Eddie Payne the MidMajor Coach of the Year. Returning so many leaves them with few scholarships and few new recruits this year, but they still add to their size with 6’10” Michael Buchanan and 6’7” Zach Lillie and 6’7” 215 David Lighty. They should be much better from the natural improvement of their young squad. Shane Porcea. 6’10” Aru Kok , Carter Cook, Chalmers Rogers depart.
Jacksonville looked terrible early on last year but were playing much better by season’s end, finding in Aloys Cabell a scoring threat that they had been missing since Ben Smith left. However they lose Cabell, Chris Davis, Jake Geisler and Eric Richardson to transfer, along with graduates Shamille Jeffers, Terry Galvin and Delwan Graham. Only 3 of their top 9 scorers return. In the front court rotation only Glenn Powell returns. In the back court, it’s guards Keith McDougald and Russell Powell. Sophomore bit players Evin Graham and Jeremy Boguswill be asked to do much more. Cliff Warren will have a job in both recruiting and coaching to do here. But will they be any worse than the 8-20 of this past year?
Newcomers will be counted on for immediate help, including 6’4” shooting guard Jarvis Haywood of Charlotte, NC, with the highest ESPN rating of all ASun incoming freshmen at 88. Jacksonville caught an important break when Utah transfer PFJavon Dawson, 6-6 260 (3.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 14.7 min.), was declared eligible for this year. DylanFritsch 6’5” 170, Otero JC (same team as Lipscomb’s Oscar Garcia) adds shooting power to a team that needs it (10.2 ppg on 41% with37%(67-179) from 3, 3.3 rebounds, .94 assists, 1.0 t.o., .16 blocks, .53 steals).6’9” 235 freshmanTyler Alderman, may be more of a project. FreshmanKadario Fleming, Ridgeway HS, Memphis, 6’6” 185, ESPN rated 83 is said to be thicker and stronger than his weight would suggest. Freshman Marcellous Bell, 5’10” 140, point guard ranked 79 by ESPN arrives from the legendary DeMatha program. They’ll probably be counting on transfers Dawson and Fritsch and freshman Haywood to step right into the rotation. RS-sophomore Admir Sahbegovic has supposedly suffered yet another knee injury and may miss the season.
The Dolphins had the benefit of a summer trip to the Dominican Republic where they beat up on 4 inferior teams. This was no doubt a critically important step to integrate so many the new guys. But Lipscomb made the same trip last year, and still had a difficult season. Despite that experience, I expect Jacksonville to look pretty rough initially. Like ETSU they are undertaking major rebuilding. And unless 6’9” freshman Alderman can be a factor, which I consider unlikely, they will have no one over 6’6”. But they have brought in talent, and could be a factor in the ASun by season’s end. Cliff Warren teams have a way of coming together and battling at the finish.