Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breakthrough Prospects (Atlantic 10)

In this segment, I outline the emerging prospects for the 2011-2012 A-10 Conference season.

TJ McConnell, Duquesne- Despite earning the Atlantic-10 freshman of the year award and being listed on College Insider's Freshman All American Team, McConnell still did not receive the widespread national attention that he deserves. It should be stressed that these rewards were not without merit though, and that McConnell will likely be one of the best point guards in the country next season. Last year, he was the 6th most efficient offensive player in the Atlantic 10 according to kenpom.com's 'Offensive Rating' statistic. And, he shot the ball well from the field, finishing 8th in the conference in TS% and connecting on 40% of his three point attempts. Not only was he effective scoring the ball, but he also displayed excellent court vision and thereby ranked 5th in the conference in Assist Rate. On the defensive end, TJ finished 7th in the country and first in the A-10 in % steals, while ranking 12th in the conference in fouls committed. This indicates that he played well beyond his years, picking the pockets of countless opposing players, yet not succumbing to the freshman temptation to foul all too often. Moreover, his summer performances at Green Tree only reinforced this notion that he will break through as one of the top point guards in the country this season. There he led his PBC team to a championship victory over a squad featuring Pitt alums and current players such as Ashton Gibbs and Gary McGhee. He was fearless attacking the basket against them, and put the team on his back on several occasions. All in all, when the college season rolls around, look for TJ McConnell to become an All Conference player in the A-10 and more of a household name amongst casual college basketball fans.

Michael Eric/Khalif Wyatt/Aaron Brown, Temple- Temple is coming into this season as one of the most under-hyped squads in the country. Despite the loss of Lavoy Allen, Temple returns most of last season's tournament team. Even though Michael Eric was not Temple's top option inside a year ago, he demonstrated considerable coordination and athleticism in the post. At 6'11, 240 lbs, Eric has the physical tools to develop into a decent professional player. If he continues to make strides in his offensive development while continuing to provide a solid defensive presence, he should be on scouts' radars next year. With Allen's departure, it appears likely that he will get that opportunity to make a name for himself. Moreover, Khalif Wyatt is a strong, undersized shooting guard that ranked 9th in the Atlantic 10 in kenpom's Offensive Rating, meaning that he was one of the conference's most efficient players last season. Look for him to continue to improve this year, as he already made the jump as a freshman that only played in 10 contests to one of the most dependable offensive weapons in the conference as a sophomore. Finally, expect sophomore Aaron Brown to make similar inroads in his second season with the Owls. He played under 10 minutes per game a year ago, but has been gaining experience internationally, playing for the US Virgin Islands national team.

DeMario Mayfield, Charlotte- Despite the poor numbers that he put up during his first college season with Georgia, Mayfield should have a major impact as a transfer for the 49ers. Despite not having played a single possession for this squad, he has already generated considerable buzz within the program due to his play over the summer- so much so that freshman Pierria Henry already anointed him as Charlotte's best player in 2011-2012. While this may be a bit of a stretch, one can gather that Mayfield has displayed considerable talent in pickup games with his teammates. Further, even in his high school playing days, it was clear that Mayfield possessed athletic gifts and the versatility to play both backcourt positions. Therein, expect him to make a considerable impact, even if he begins as Charlotte's third option offensively.

Earl Pettis/Sam Mills, LaSalle- Despite losing many players from a season ago, LaSalle also rid itself of most of its selfish basketball personalities. As a result, they will probably play more as a unit this season. And, former Rutgers transfer Earl Pettis, alongside standout sophomore Tyreek Duran, should lead the way. Look for Pettis to increase his production considerably. In particular, if he can look to draw contact more often, he can better capitalize on his 90% free throw %. He is also a fairly good rebounder for his size, ranking 40th in the conference in Defensive Rebounding %, despite playing alongside big men Jerrell Williams and Aaric Murray, who combined to average 15 rebounds per game. With them gone, look for him to crash the boards more often. Additionally, sophomore Sam Mills should make a huge jump from his fairly average freshman campaign, in which he posted a pedestrian 50.5 TS%- placing him towards the bottom of the conference. In LaSalle's Canadian trip, he shot the ball a lot more efficiently, connecting on 68.18% of his field goal attempts and 66.67% of his three point attempts. While this type of efficiency will probably not last throughout the season, it should be noted that he shot this way against some of Canada's toughest competition. Mills helped LaSalle defeat Carleton University, which has won 7 of the last 9 Canadian college titles. He also performed well against the Carleton University alums that LaSalle scrimmaged. So, while it is too early to suggest the Mills will have an efficient offensive season, all indications are that he will be one of the conference's most improved players entering this regular season.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Breakthrough Prospects (Mountain West)

In this segment, I outline the emerging prospects for the 2011-2012 MAC Conference season.

Anthony Marshall, UNLV- With Willis gone, Marshall should become UNLV's go-to scorer on the perimeter. Last year, Marshall proved to be a tenacious defender that also thrived attacking the basket. He ranked 16th in the Mountain West in kenpom.com's Fouls Drawn statistic, while moving his feet well and finishing 9th in the Mountain West in % Steals. Further, Marshall rebounded well for his size (6'3), finishing 27th in the MWC in Defensive Rebounding % and 26th in Offensive Rebounding %. Look for Marshall to improve upon these numbers and to have an All Conference season for the Running Rebels. With that said, he must become a better 3 pt. shooter (20.3%) in order to receive looks from NBA scouts.

Kendall Williams, New Mexico- Williams was probably the most underrated freshman in the country last season. Standing at 6'3, Williams proved that he has the features of a prototypical NBA point guard, capable of distributing the ball and scoring efficiently. According to kenpom.com, he finished 5th in the MWC in Assist Rate. And, he ranked 9th overall in the Mountain West in terms of his 'Offensive Rating', even with the 23rd highest usage. He demonstrated a proficiency shooting the ball at a 42.6% rate from beyond the arc and posting a 59.8 TS%. With the graduation of Dairese Gary, Williams will have increased responsibilities as a primary distributor; therein, he should become one of the nation's leading passers this season, particularly with the arrival of impact freshman Hugh Greenwood. Defensively, Williams must improve as a 1-on-1 defender, but was effective stealing the ball (2.7 Steals %), while rarely being called for a foul. (2.2 fouls called per 40 minutes) Look for Williams to emerge on a national scale this season, and to lead New Mexico to an NCAA tournament birth.

J.R. Cadot, TCU- Cadot quietly had a very productive season for the Horned Frogs in 2010-2011. While he does not have a defined position at the NBA level because of his inability to hit shots from the perimeter, Cadot was extremely efficient from the field. He posted a True Shooting Percentage of 65.2%, (19th in the country) despite only attempting 10 three point field goals. Further, he was one of the best rebounders for his size, ranking 3rd in the MWC in Offensive Rebounding % and 11th in Defensive Rebounding %. Cadot has an opportunity to improve on last season's offensive numbers, as he got to the line fairly frequently, but only connected on 55.1% of his attempts. Look for him to be one of the few bright spots on this year's TCU program.

Dorian Green, Colorado St.- In Green's second season with the Rams, he regressed in most categories. However, with the losses of Ogide and Franklin, Green should once again take on a larger role in his team's offense in 2011-2012. With that said, Green was a more willing passer last season, ranking 13th in the conference in Assist Rate. With more possessions, Green should continue to get to the line as he did in his freshman season. Further, he must improve his long range shooting in order to regain his standing as one of the conference's elite offensive weapons. For reference, he only connected on approximately 29% of his three point attempts last season. Look for Green's production to improve this year as a result of personnel changes, and for him to become more of a facilitator.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Breakthrough Prospects (MAC)

In this segment, I outline the emerging prospects for the 2011-2012 MAC Conference season.

Zeke Marshall, Akron- Marshall is slowly developing into one of the best midmajor center prospects. He is particularly valuable as a shot blocking presence, ranking 1st in the MAC and 10th in the country in % blocks according to kenpom.com. His presence inside already intimidates the opposition and often forces tough shots. However, Marshall must become more forceful on the low block and not allow the opposition to gain post position on him. On the offensive end, Marshall is still a work in progress. He is capable of attacking the basket with a nice sky hook. And, he limited his turnovers a season ago, which is certainly a positive sign. If Akron's guards can get the ball into him more often, look for Zeke to have a standout year scoring over the opposition.

Javon McCrea, Buffalo- McCrea was the best freshman post player in the conference a season ago. He was remarkably efficient on the offensive end. According to kenpom.com, he led the MAC in Ken Pomeroy's 'Offensive Rating' metric for those who had been used on 24% of their team's possessions. In the post, he often found ways to overpower his defenders. Not only was he efficient scoring the basketball, but he was also a willing passer- ranking 15th in the MAC in assist rate. His greatest strength, however, is his ability to collect offensive rebounds. According to kenpom.com, McCrea ranked 1st in the MAC and 5th in the country in Offensive Rebounding %; in other words, even though McCrea is undersized, he is a prolific rebounder. And, while McCrea was the last player cut from Team USA's Under 19 squad, he will probably only use that as motivation for this coming season. Despite being undersized, McCrea battles for post position and is extremely aggressive edging players outside of the paint. Look for him to have an all conference year in his second season and receive some more national notoriety.

Demetrius Ward, Western Michigan- Ward was one of the most improved players in the MAC a season ago. He increased his Offensive Rating by nearly 40% according to kenpom.com, meaning that he was significantly more efficient this past season despite his higher usage. And, while he functioned predominately as a combo guard, he posted a fairly good Assist Rate, ranking 31st in the MAC. If he is able to cut down on his turnovers and pass the ball with the same proficiency, he may receive some looks from professional scouts. Look for his scoring numbers to increase slightly, but for his efficiency to increase more notably in his second season with starters' minutes.

Jesse Berry, Ball St.- Berry had a decent freshman campaign from a statistical perspective. He shot the ball fairly well from inside the arc despite his limited usage, posting a 53.3% True Shooting Percentage. This means that he was able to finish at the rim with some success. In spite of this, however, he shot the ball poorly from 3 point range, connecting on only 32.9% of his attempts. He should improve on this percentage this coming season. Also, look for his scoring output to increase considerably with the return of point guard Randy Davis. Defensively, Berry was not aggressive enough last year, finishing next to last in his conference in steals % and committing 1.8 fouls per 40 minutes, which means that only 62 players in the country fouled at a lesser rate. If Berry can play more physically on the defensive end and look to score more often on offense, he should be poised for a breakout season.

Tim Toler, Northern Illinois- With the loss of one of the nation's leading scorers in Xavier Silas, Tim Toler should be next in line to take over as the Huskies' go-to player. In his first season with this school, Toler was fairly efficient scoring the basketball, ranking in the top 30 in the MAC in this category. In particular, Toler shot the ball well from the field, posting a 54% true shooting percentage. Even though he played inside, Toler connected on 39.5% of his three point attempts, meaning that he can step outside and keep defenses honest. Despite his accuracy from the field, Toler was only involved in 19.2% of his team's possessions according to kenpom.com. With Silas gone, he should become much more involved in the offense this season and will likely increase his scoring output. On the defensive end, Toler must lose some weight in order to match up with some of the quicker big men in the MAC conference. With that said, he was fairly proficient on the defensive glass. Look for Toler to stand out as his team's top option, and to likely carry the scoring load for the Northern Illinois Huskies.

Cameron Black, Bowling Green- After slipping through most recruiting cracks due to an injury plagued season in high school, Black had a fairly impressive freshman year. He started the first 17 games of the season, gaining valuable experience and ranking third on his team in rebounding and blocked shots. Although he had some success in his first year, it should be noted that Black is a late bloomer who was once forced to shift positions from guard to forward after experiencing a huge growth spurt in high school. With that said, he now is slowly developing his post abilities, and, at 6'10, functions primarily as a finesse post option. Look for Coach Orr to give Black more playing time in his second season and for Black's offensive output to increase relative to his usage. Black will continue to adjust to his body, and therein one should expect him to emerge as one of the conference's top shot blockers by the time the MAC Conference Tournament begins. All in all, look for Cameron Black to develop into one of the more intriguing big men in the MAC when it is all said and done.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Breakthrough Prospects (MVC)

In this segment, I outline the emerging prospects for the 2011-2012 Missouri Valley Conference season.

Doug McDermott, Creighton- After validating his rank as one of the most highly touted freshman in conference history, McDermott looks to improve on where he left off a year ago. While he has already attained the highest conference honors, McDermott should challenge for conference player of the year this season. In his trip with team USA's Under 19 squad, he competed valiantly against some of the most formidable competition in the world for his age group. He responded to this challenge by ranking third on the team in scoring and rebounding. It is clear that McDermott can rebound at any level and is one of the more efficient returning offensive players in the Missouri Valley Conference. Last season, he posted a true shooting percentage of over 60%, ranking him as the top MVC player for this metric according to kenpom.com. With the graduation of Kenny Lawson, Creighton will rely on his offensive prowess even more often. Look for McDermott to solidify himself nationally as one of the nation's top sophomores over the course of this season.

Mamadou Seck, Southern Illinois- Look for this aggressive post presence to have a big year for the Salukis. He is physical combo forward with an ability to go after the ball with reckless abandon. Last season, Seck had the 29th best Defensive Rebound % in the country according to kenpom.com. He should again lead the MVC in rebounding. And, because of the transfer of Gene Teague and the graduation of Carlton Fay, Seck should play a much more important role as a scoring presence inside. In terms of his long run potential, Seck is a bit of a tweener and must develop some semblance of an outside shooting game. If he can do this, he will receive more mentions in professional basketball circles.

Ben Smith/Joe Ragland, Wichita St.- The Shockers are the favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference despite losing their top scorer JT Durley. Ragland should take over the fulltime starter's duties in his second season with this squad. Look for him to stand out with more playing time and extended duties as a floor general. Ben Smith, on the other hand, received fairly limited minutes last season and was not given an opportunity to score the ball all that often. Despite this, Smith ranked first in the MVC and 11th in the country in kenpom's Offensive Rating. This means that he was one of the most efficient players in the country despite being used on less than 20% of his team's possessions. For reference, Ragland ranked 4th in the MVC in this category. Due to some of the Shockers' losses, look for Ragland and Smith to receive a lot more touches and therein realize an increase in their scoring output.

Kenneth Harris, Evansville- While Harris did not demonstrate remarkable offensive efficiency in his first season with the Purple Aces, he contributed in other ways to his team's success. On the defensive side, in spite of his average size for a forward at 6'6, Harris was able to rebound the ball fairly well. According to kenpom.com, he ranked in the top 150 in the nation in Defensive Rebounding %. Further, he was aggressive going after the ball on this end and thus was one of the MVC's most valuable defensive weapons. On the offensive end, Harris was able to draw fouls fairly effectively. If he can increase his free throw percentage and continue to get to the line at the same rate, he should realize a tremendous increase in offensive production. In terms of his long run potential, Harris must develop a three point shot in order to keep defenses honest. At the next level, he will have to play on the wing and thus, his transition to the perimeter will be a pivotal part of his long term development.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Breakthrough Prospects (Horizon League)

In this segment, I outline the emerging prospects for the 2011-2012 Horizon League season.

Kendrick Perry, Youngstown St.- After a fairly solid freshman season, Perry is a real candidate to breakout during his sophomore campaign. Perry was extraordinarily poised as a freshman, posting over a 2 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. In next season's play, he will not only demonstrate his capabilities as a distributor though, but should also increase his scoring output as well. In the Green Tree Summer League, Perry shot over 40% from beyond the arc and demonstrated remarkable athleticism. On the defensive end of the floor, Perry is laterally quick enough to defend virtually anyone at the college level. Look for him to have an all conference year next season and to emerge as one of the best mid major pro prospects.

Khyle Marshall, Butler- Following in the footsteps of other Butler greats, Marshall spent his summer competing for Team USA. And, while he was not particularly efficient there, Marshall still gained some valuable experience competing against some of the toughest competition in the world relative to his age bracket. With the departure of Howard inside, Marshall should see considerably more playing time and should become the focal point of Butler's interior attack alongside Andrew Smith. Despite the fact that he did not receive all that many touches as a primary option last season, Marshall found ways to score. Look for him to put in "garbage" baskets again this season, while also looking to establish his presence on the block more often.

Alec Brown/Jarvis Williams/Terry Johnson, Wisconsin Green Bay- With Fletcher gone, these three players are going to need to increase their production on offense. Alec Brown was one of the most promising mid major freshman big men a season ago. Look for this 7 foot post threat to alter shots and become one of the more coveted pro prospects in the conference. Williams is a combo forward that is capable of securing rebounds. In his first season of Division 1 basketball, he ranked 8th in the Horizon League in Defensive Rebound % according to kenpom.com, indicating that he could improve on the glass next season. Look for him to also increase his scoring output as a senior. Finally, transfer Terry Johnson should thrust himself into the Green Bay lineup almost immediately. By the end of the year, expect him to blossom into one of the more improved players in the conference.

Chris Blake/LaMarcus Lowe, Detroit- Blake had a fairly productive year on the wing for Detroit, averaging double figures and asserting himself as one of McCallum's top options. Look for him to increase his efficiency and overall production this season after learning to play within himself and not force shots. Lowe is a long big man with tremendous upside as a shot blocker. Look for him to receive more minutes and thereby increase his production.

Paris Carter/Darrin Williams, UIC- With the exit of Neely and the graduations of Paul Carter and Robo Kreps, some returning players must account for this squad's lost production. Paris Carter is a likely candidate, as he played a fairly integral role in UIC's offense last season. Before he can become a top option, though, he must improve upon his woeful free throw percentage from a season ago. (38%) If Darrin Williams can get into better shape by the time the college basketball season starts, he should receive more minutes in the Flames' lineup. He can be difficult to handle inside when given the chance.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Non-D1 Player Power Rankings (Top 161)

This list ranks the best players from all non-D1 schools in the United States. The criteria used were applied with regard to basketball potential down the road.

1. Lamonte Thomas , Johnson & Wales
2. Karron Johnson, Shaw University
3. Marcus Goode, Benedict
4. Jet Chang, BYU-Hawaii
5. Shedrick Haynes, Tarleton St.
6. Taylor King, Concordia (CA)
7. Tyrone Shelley, Georgetown (Ky)
8. Kenyon Smith, Southern Indiana
9. LA Farmer, Arkansas Monticello
10. Braydon Hobbs, Bellarmine
11. Cody Schilling, Augustana
12. Da’Ron Sims, West Georgia
13. Jason Adams, Missouri Southern
14. Doug Wiggins, Mountain St.
15. Gaither Hendrix, Brevard College
16. Zane Campbell, Alabama Huntsville
17. Isaac Thornton, Fairmont St.
18. Marquise Mems, Tougaloo
19. Michael Lloyd, Midwestern St.
20. David Gibbs, Mount Ida
21. Gerald Fulton, Missouri-St. Louis
22. Teondre Williams, Clayton St.
23. Josh Proctor, West Virginia Tech
24. Shavontae Samuels, Mayville St.
25. Cameron McCaffrey, Augustana
26. Diante Watkins, Robert Morris
27. Jarrell Douglas, Limestone
28. James Wang, Williams College
29. Denzel Mooney, Lincoln (PA)
30. Charlie Chapman, Minnesota St. Morehead
31. Kashiff Carr, St. Catharine
32. Kwame Alexander, Cal St. San Bernadino
33. Trevin Parks, Johnson C. Smith
34. Fayzon Richey, Saint Gregory’s
35. Andy Poling, Seattle Pacific
36. Darrick Thomas, Midwestern St.
37. Harrison George, Hampden-Sydney
38. Dontahe Jordan, Bloomsburg
39. Andra Bailey, Pittsburg St.
40. Kenny Manigault, USC Aiken
41. Tim Eriste, Tarleton St.
42. Brandon Brown, Montana Western
43. Jonathan Dunn, Northwood
44. Temi Adebayo, Philadelphia U.
45. DeAngelo Riley, Azusa Pacific
46. Ricardo Hall, Arkansas Monticello
47. Lavonte Douglas, Missouri Western St.
48. Thomas Manzano, New Mexico Highlands
49. Desmond Johnson, Lincoln Memorial
50. Nefi Perdomo, San Francisco St.
51. Chris Ware, Indiana Tech
52. Xavier Humphrey, Charleston University
53. Alex Hall, Drury
54. Keon Moore, Catawba
55. Luis Leao, Mercyhurst College
56. Clayton Vette, Winona St.
57. Anthony Young, Kentucky Wesleyan
58. Reggie Jones, Cal St. Stanislaus
59. Edward Willis, Concordia (CA)
60. LaDarren Williams, Texas College
61. Derek Staton, Mount Olive
62. Brandon Herbert, District of Columbia
63. Collin Pryor, Northern St.
64. Urald King, Southeastern Oklahoma
65. Jonathan Phelps, Missouri Western St.
66. James Justice, Martin Methodist
67. Desmond Henry, Cameron
68. Tarell Clark, Minnesota St. Morehead
69. Walter Hill, Shorter (GA)
70. Darian Canty, Lander University
71. Justin Henderson, Indiana Tech
72. Terrell Lipkins, Charleston University
73. Killian Larson, Dominican
74. Isiah Wallace, American International
75. Mike Hollingsworth, Wayne St.
76. Jon Ward, Ursinas
77. Alvin Brown, USC Aiken
78. Alquan Mendenhall, West Alabama
79. TJ Riley, Western New Mexico
80. Roger Loatman, Rowan University
81. Tim McCrary, Wheaton (IL)
82. Vic Moses, Georgetown (Ky)
83. Desmond King, Texas A&M-Commerce
84. Jerry Hampton, Le Moyne Owens
85. Markeith Wilson, Rust College
86. Griffon Jones, Dixie St.
87. Romaric Lasme, Southern Indiana
88. Reggie Evans, Metro St.
89. Marquis Addison, Missouri Southern
90. Ryan Sheehan, Nichols College
91. Amry Shelby, Wayne St.
92. Qadr Owens, Saint Francis (Ind)
93. DJ Woodmore, Virginia Wesleyan
94. Marquis Richards, Adams St.
95. Mike Wiebe, College of the Ozarks
96. JaMario Clayton, Ocean County CC
97. Marshall Johnson, Azusa Pacific
98. Jerrel Harris, UW Stevens Point
99. DeShaun Cooper, Northwest Missouri St.
100. Andy Garland, Carroll
101. John Petrucelli, Molloy
102. Sean Rossi, Ithaca College
103. Brandon Riley, Newberry
104. Greg Foster, Saginaw Valley St.
105. Courtney Carr, West Texas A&M
106. Nate Barnes, Alderson Broaddus
107. John Allen, Western Washington
108. Terrance Tubbs, Washburn
109. James Thomas, Grand Valley St.
110. Nick Larson, William Jewel
111. Ryan Sharry, Middlebury
112. Donterious Hughes, Mars Hill
113. Fabian Wilson, Tarleton St.
114. Patrick Grubbs, Pitt-Johnston
115. Michael France, Trevecca Nazarene
116. Tim Smith, Holy Family
117. Brian Clark, Salem St.
118. Jared Benson, Northern Michigan
119. Kyle Teichman, Freed-Hardeman
120. Sedale Jones, Curry College
121. Justin Brown, St. Thomas Aquinas
122. Asmar Edwards, Bergen County CC
123. Elijah Allen, Northwest Missouri St.
124. Taylor Rohde, Alaska Anchorage
125. Malik Tinsley, Davis & Elkins
126. Evan Yates, Ashland University
127. Shayar Lee, Adams St.
128. Chris Witherspoon, Winston Salem St.
129. Elgin Brown, Ramapo
130. Derrell Williams, Wayne St.
131. Justin Glover, Winston Salem St.
132. Ahmad Hassan, Ramapo
133. Tommy Granado, Concordia (CA)
134. CJ Erickson, Winona St.
135. Torez Young-Canty, Winston Salem St.
136. Deray Wilson, Adams St.
137. Turell Morris, Union (Ky)
138. Ahmad Harris, Bloomfield
139. Chad Carter, Western New Mexico
140. Kevin Knab, Marietta
141. Ray Askew, Albertus Magnus
142. Asmar Capers, Drew
143. DaQuan Brooks, Western Connecticut
144. Andrew August, Montclair
145. Javon Williams, LaSell
146. Spencer Liddic, Muhlenberg
147. Andre King, Saint Anselm
148. Ali Haidar, Michigan Tech
149. Matt Johnson, Chicago
150. Blair Rozenblad, Thiel
151. Georgio Milligan, Franklin & Marshall
152. LaQuan Peterkin, Ramapo
153. Malcolm Gilbert, Passaic CCC
154. Melvin Williams, Great Falls University
155. Leon Porter, Dominican
156. Pat Sullivan, Hamilton
157. Chad Burridge, Oswego St.
158. Nick Novak, Pitt-Johnston
159. Davin Anderson, Adams St.
160. Nate Ensz, Notre Dame College
161. Ardell Roberts, Passaic CCC

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Breakthrough Prospects (CUSA)

In this brief segment, I outline the emerging prospects for the 2011-2012 Conference USA season.

Will Barton, Memphis- Barton should emerge this season after a year of experience under his belt. He is continuing to develop his body and is much more physically imposing than he was when his college career began. He must continue to develop a better handle and score consistently. With his improvement physically, Barton should become more of a defensive anchor for the Tiger's defense. He has the length to play the passing lanes and the foot speed to stay in front of opposing wings. Look for him to receive All-American considerations by the end of the year and for Memphis to earn a tournament bid.

DeAndre Kane, Marshall- After a standout freshman season where he was named CUSA freshman of the year, Kane returns as the Herds' star redshirt sophomore. Because he assumed such a large role in his first season, look for him to play more under control this coming year. That means that he should improve upon his paltry shooting percentages. According to kenpom.com, of the 44 players that played a total of 60% of their teams' minutes, Kane ranked 35th in the conference in TS%, due in large part to his poor percentages from beyond the arc. While he is physically ready to make the jump to the next level of basketball, his decision making and shot selection must improve for scouts to even consider him down the road. At 6'4, he may not get much attention, as he plays in a less recognized conference and is fairly undersized for an NBA shooting guard. However, he will receive some looks from scouts if he is able to improve upon his efficiency. Expect him to significantly increase his scoring output this season as well.

Tamir Jackson, Rice- While Arsalan Kazemi is receiving most of the intrigue from NBA scouts, very few people have taken notice of point guard Tamir Jackson, who is about to enter his third season with the Owls. Following a solid freshman campaign statistically, Jackson became a more trusted distributor in his second season, significantly improving upon his 0.94 assist to turnover ratio. Not only was he more effective leading his squad, but he also improved upon his shooting percentages. Kenpom statistics indicate that he increased his TS% by roughly 7% during his second season with the Owls. Despite these improvements, though, he still ranks towards the bottom of the conference in terms of shooting percentage. (coming in 36th, just behind Kane) He must perfect his spot up jumper in order to command defensive respect and to become a more viable offensive option. Look for him to again thrive alongside one of the nations' most underrated forwards.

Angelo Johnson, Southern Miss- With the transfer of DJ Newbill and the exodus of senior Gary Flowers, Southern Miss is going to need Johnson to account for most of the lost scoring output. He will take on an even greater involvement in the offense because of the graduation of RL Horton, who dominated the ball at times. It is clear that Angelo Johnson brings most of the experience to the backcourt, as he will probably start alongside inexperienced former JUCO transfer LaShay Page, who only started one game in 2010-2011. Despite this heavy burden, he was fairly successful last season in his more limited role. In fact, Johnson was one of the more underappreciated players in Conference USA a year ago, posting an excellent 3 to 1 assist to turnover ratio while ranking 14th in the conference with a 56.7% true shooting percentage. Next season will bring with it an entirely different set of expectations though. Because defenses will focus on containing Johnson, look for him to become less efficient from the field, yet still increase his scoring output. And, given his track record of highly efficient basketball, Johnson should have an all conference season after leading an inexperienced Golden Eagles squad to a middle-of-the-pack finish. While he may not be entirely on the NBA draft radar at this point, look for him to receive an invite to Portsmouth Camp after next season.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Breakthrough Prospects (The WAC)

In this brief segment, I outline the emerging prospects for the 2011-2012 WAC season.

Wendell McKines, New Mexico St.- McKines is a 6'6 forward that is poised for a breakout season. While he may be a bit limited as an NBA prospect because his game is not as perimeter oriented as it needs to be, McKines is a physical force inside. He is extremely strong and tries to dunk the ball every time he touches it. Not only is he aggressive scoring the ball, but he is also a prolific rebounder for his size. While he was listed as a preseason first-team all WAC selection a season ago, a broken foot forced him to redshirt. Now, it appears that McKines is in even better shape and probably is the odds-on favorite to win WAC player of the year entering the season. In San Francisco Pro Am action, McKines took home the MVP, averaging 34.4 points and 15.1 rebounds per game. Still, this is only a summer performance and he has been facing less rigorous defenses. With that said, such numbers are eye-raising at any level of basketball. Look for him to emerge as a second round pick next year, and, if he can hone his perimeter shooting, McKines has a shot to go even higher. Obviously, it is very early to make such a prediction. But, considering the fact that Landry Fields was once a former MVP of the San Francisco Pro Am, it seems as though he is in good company for the time being.

Brockeith Pane, Utah St.- While he may not get that much attention from the NBA due to his age, Pane will probably be the best guard in the WAC next season. Pane is a slashing lead guard with the ability to run a team. He was a major catalyst behind Utah St.'s emergence a year ago. With a full season under his belt already after transferring from Midland JC, I expect Pane to really develop into a borderline NBA prospect. In order to do this, however, he must display a notable difference in his three point shooting touch. (21.1% is not going to cut it)Further, he must demonstrate that he can distribute the ball and lead his team to another tournament run. He will have plenty of chances, as I expect him to have the ball in his hands more often with the loss of Tai Wesley.

Will Carter, San Jose St.- While McKines is receiving most of the hype coming out of the San Francisco Pro Am League, Carter also evinced considerable improvement. He was the 7th leading scorer in this league and also managed to shoot 50% from the floor. After transferring from Salt Lake Community College a season ago, Carter had a solid Junior campaign at San Jose St. He nearly averaged a double-double in his first season and was the fifth leading rebounder in the WAC, averaging 11.4 ppg and 9.5 rpg in his final 14 contests. While he put up impressive statistical averages, he did not have a very high usage rating, ranking 44th in the WAC in kenpom.com's % of team shots statistics. With high usage players Adrian Oliver and Justin Graham gone from a year ago, look for his statistical output to increase significantly. He should be an All-WAC performer and may get some workout looks and an invite to Portsmouth Camp next season.

Devonte Elliott, Nevada- After being selected to play in the Reach USA games, Elliott picked up some valuable experiences abroad. While he is still very raw and tends to float on the perimeter causing some to compare him to a poor man's Robert Horry, Elliott is beginning to add weight and should be much stronger than his former 6'10 210 lb frame from a season ago. While he received very limited playing time last year, expect him to emerge as one of the bright spots on his Nevada Wolfpack squad. It is unfair for one to expect such a momentous improvement on his 1.8ppg 2.8 rpg statistics a season ago, but it is clear that he will receive more playing time and that his production should likewise increase. Look for him to emerge as a long term prospect if he can add enough girth and hone his inside game.