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Jack Williams, D1CoachCorner.com 6:30pm June 19, 2016

UAB has a new head coach. However, the majority of their core players are returning from their successful 2015-2016. UAB should still be the team to beat in the Conference. North Texas and Florida International have improved greatly with their new additions. Can either of these teams finally find their way to the top of the Conference? Here is our prediction of what the Conference may look like by the end of 2016-2017:

1. UAB Basketball

Coach: Robert Ehsan

Off Roster:
Graduated: Robert Brown

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: William Lee (PF), Chris Cokley (C), Nick Norton (PG), Hakeem Baxter (SG), Tosin Mehinti (PF), Denzell Watts (PG), Tyler Madison (SF), Lewis Sullivan (PF), Dirk Williams (SF), and others…
Key Freshmen: Nate Darling (SG) and Javien Williams (SG)

UAB has a new head coach in Robert Ehsan. The previous coach, Jerod Haase, left the team to coach at Stanford. Nearly all of UAB’s core players are coming back from their successful 2015-2016 season. Nick Norton is the best point guard in the Conference USA and the 18th best in the nation. He averaged 5.1 assists per game last season. If UAB could pick it up on the defense they could go further than where they’ve gone last season.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 26-7 (16-2) NIT 1st round exit
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 15+

2. North Texas Basketball

Coach: Tony Benford

Off Roster:
Graduated: Chris Campbell, Todd Eaglin, and Eric Katenda
Transferred: Carrington Ward (Norfolk State)

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: J-Mychal Reese (PG), Deckie Johnson (SG), Jeremy Combs (PF), Ja'Michael Brown (PG), Allante Holston (SF), Greg White-Pittman (SG), Rickey Brice Jr. (C), and Khalil Fuller (PF)
Key Transfer(s): Shane Temara (Angelina, SF) and Derail Green (Incarnate Word, SF)
Key Freshmen: A.J. 'AJ' Lawson (SF)

North Texas will return three (3) of their top scorers for the 2015-2016 season. They will also get better with their new additions. The addition of Incarnate Word’s graduate transfer, Derail Green gives them another scorer and good rebounder. Green averaged 11 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2 assists per game in his final season with Incarnate Word. North Texas will also add a very good JUCO transfer in Shane Temara. He averaged 11.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in his final season at Angelina Community College. He is also a pretty good rim protector. He was ranked 50th in block shots his final season at Angelina. Expect North Texas to improve both offensively and defensively.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 12-20 (7-11) No Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 13-

3. Florida International Basketball

Coach: Anthony Evans

Off Roster:
Graduated: Adrian Diaz and Daviyon Draper

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: Donte McGill (SG), Kimar Williams (PG), Jason Boswell (SG), Cameron Smith (SF), Michael Douglas (PF), Elmo Stephen (SF) and Eric Nottage (SG)
Key Transfer(s): Richard Bivens (East Los Angeles, PF), Ronald Whitaker (Southwest Tennessee, SF), Jay Harvey (Shawnee, SF), Michael Kessens (Alabama, PF), and Eric Lockett (Chipola, SF)
Key Freshmen: Greg Shead (PG) and Raekwon Long (C)

Florida International University (FIU) has loaded their roster with some great talent for this coming 2016-2017 season. JUCO transfer Eric Lockett is a great facilitator. He averaged 7.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game in his final season at Chipola Community College. He was ranked 22nd nationally in assists in his final season at Chipola. JUCO transfer Jay Harvey (Shawnee) is a great rim protector. He was ranked 40th nationally in blocked shots in his final season at Shawnee Community College. He averaged 3 points and 5 rebounds per game that season. Also added to the team is Alabama’s graduate transfer, Michael Kessens. He averaged 3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in his final season Alabama. His leadership and experience should help the team go a long way. Expect FIU to improve in all categories.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 13-19 (7-11) No Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 12-

4. Old Dominion Basketball

Coach: Jeff Jones

Off Roster:
Graduated: Aaron Bacote, Nik Biberaj, Trey Freeman, Payton Pervier, and Martin Shaw

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: Brandan Stith (PF), Zoran Talley (SF), Denzell Taylor (PF), Ahmad Caver (PG), and Jordan Baker (SG)
Key Transfer(s): Keith Pinckney (Northwest Florida, PG), Randy Haynes (New Mexico, SG), B.J. Stith (Virginia, SG), Alassane Kah (Kilgore) and Trey Porter (George Mason, PF)
Key Freshmen: Xavier Green (SG) and Aaron Carver (SF)

Old Dominion was the best defensive team in Conference USA last season. However, they struggled on offense. Old Dominion is bringing in quite a few quality transfers next season to remain competitive in the conference. They will add two (2) division 1 transfers in Trey Porter of George Mason and B.J. Stith of Virginia. Porter played in 30 games last season with an averaged 14.1 minutes per game. He averaged 3.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game that season. Stith only played in 13 games in his final season at Virginia. He averaged only 1 point per game in those 13 minutes. Old dominion also added three (3) qulity JUCO transfers to their roster for the 2016-2017 season.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 25-13 (12-6) Vegas 16 Championship
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 11-

5. Middle Tennessee Basketball

Coach: Kermit Davis

Off Roster:
Graduated: Perrin Buford, Darnell Harris, and Jaqawn Raymond

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: Reggie Upshaw (PF), Giddy Potts (SG), Xavier Habersham (SF), Aldonis Foote (SF), Edward Simpson (SG) and Jacob Ivory (PG)
Key Transfer(s): Jacorey Williams (Arkansas, SF), Calvin Davis (Cape Fear, PG) and Antwain Johnson (Chipola, PG)
Key Freshmen: Tyrik Dixon (PG)

Middle Tennessee will start the season with a new coach in Robert Ehsan. The team’s top two (2) scorers, Reggie Upshaw and Giddy Potts will be returning. Middle Tennessee is adding to the roster two (2) very good JUCO recruits in Calvin Davis and Antwain Johnson. Davis averaged 10 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 5 assists (ranked #66) per game in his final season at Cape Fear. Johnson is a very good scorer. He averaged 15.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in his final season at Chipola. Arkansas transfer, Jacorey Williams, will be available to play this coming sesason after sitting out the 2015-2016 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Williams averaged 4.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game in his final season at Arkansas. The one problem with Middle Tennessee is their size. They’re one of the smallest teams in the conference.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 25-10 (13-5) NCAA 2nd round exit
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 10-

6. Rice Basketball

Coach: Mike Rhoades

Off Roster:
Graduated: Max Guercy
Transferred: Amir Smith

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: Marcus Evans (PG), Egor Koulechov (SF), Marcus Jackson (SG), Marquez Letcher-Ellis (SF), Connor Cashaw (SG), Bishop Mency (SG), and Andrew Drone (C)
Key Freshmen: Austin Meyer (PF), Ako Adams (PG), Tim Harrison (PF), Chad Lott (PG), and Austin Meyer (PF)

Rice is returning several core players, which includes their top three (3) scorers, Marcus Evans, Egor Koulechov and Marquez Letcher-Ellis. Marcus Jackson, their second best scorer from the 2014-2015 season should be returning to the court after sitting out the 2015-2016 season due to injury. Chemistry should be much better and their new editions should blend in well.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 12-20 (7-11) No Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 10-

7. Marshall Basketball

Coach: Dan d' Antoni

Off Roster:
Graduated: Justin Edmonds and James Kelly
Transfer(s): Aleksandar Dozic (Marist) and Brett Bowling (Virginia Wesleyan)

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: Jon Elmore (PG), Ryan Taylor (SF), Austin Loop (SG), Stevie Browning (SG), Terrence Thompson (SF), C.J. Burks (SG), Aleksandar Dozic (PF), Ajdin Penava (PF), and Milan Mijovic (PF)
Key Freshmen: Jannson Williams (PF), Phil 'Phillip' Bledsoe (SF), and Ky're Allison (PG)

Marshall is returning the majority of its core players. This team had the best offense team in the Conference last season- but yet the worst defense. Marshall put up an average 86 points per game but yet allowed their opponent to put an average 84.9 points per game. This team is going to have to get better defensively to move up in the Conference.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 17-16 (12-6) No Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 9+

8. UTEP Basketball

Coach: Tim Floyd

Off Roster:
Graduated: Tevin Caldwell, Victor Mbachu, Earvin Morris Jr., and Hooper Vint
Possibly turned PRO: Lee Moore
Transferred: Brodricks Jones (Wyoming), Christian Romine (Illinois State)

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: Omega Harris (SG), Terry Winn (SF), Jake Flaggert (SF), Matt Willms (C), Trey Touchet (SG), Tevin Caldwell (SG), and Paul Thomas (PF)
Key Freshmen: Kelvin Jones (C), Tim Cameron (PG), Deon Barrett (PG), Chris Barnes (SG), Adrian Moore (SF), and Roman Silva (C)

Matt Williams should be returning from a foot injury and Omega Harris should be available to play the entire season. With both players in the lineup, expect UTEP to remain a very good offensive team. The question is, how much will they improve defensively. UTEP was a very bad defensive team. They put up an average 77.4 points per game on offense but allowed their opponent to score an average 74.9 points per game last season.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 19-14 (10-8) No Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 9+

9. Charlotte Basketball

Coach: Mark Price

Off Roster:
Graduated: Cameron Pappas, Bernard Sullivan, Joseph Uchebo, Mitch Warner, and Gavin Wilson
Transfer(s): Ridell Camidge and Curran Scott (Tulsa)

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: Braxton Ogbueze (PG), Jon Davis (SG), Andrien White (SG), Anthony Vanhook (SF), Benas Griciunas (C), Reid Aube (SF), and Hudson Price (SG)
Key Transfer(s): J.C. Washington (Trinity Valley)
Key Freshmen: Quentin Jackson (PG), Ryan Murphy (PG), and Najee Garvin (SF)

Charlotte loses several players to graduation and transfer. Charlotte was not a very good team defensively in 2015-2016. There aren’t any indications that they’ve made additions to fix that problem.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 14-19 (9-9) No Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 7+

10. Western Kentucky Basketball

Coach: Rick Stansbury

Off Roster:
Graduated: Aaron Cosby, Aleksej Rostov, and Nigel Snipes
Transfered: Chris McNeal, Fredrick Edmond, Marlon Hunter, Chris Harrison-Docks (Depaul)

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: Justin Johnson (PF), Anton Waters (SF), and Ben Lawson (PF)
Key Transfer(s): Junior Lomomba (Providence), Que Johnson (Washington State), Jemerrio Jones (HILL, SF), Willie Carmichael (PF) and Phabian Glasco (Connors State)
Key Freshmen: Tobias 'T.J.' Howard (PG), Damari Parris (PG), Matineng-iakah Leahy (SF) and Robinson Idehen (C)

Western Kentucky will be slightly rebuilding after getting a new coach in Rick Stansbury. Several Players have transferred to other colleges and Universities and several new players have come in. Added to the roster are two (2) quality graduate transfers in Junior Lomomba of Providence and Que Johnson of Washington State. Johnson was the 3rd best point producer for Washington State. He averaged 11.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in final season. Lomomba averaged 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in his final season at Providence. Western Kentucky will also add two (2) quality JUCO transfers in Phabian Glasco (Connors State) and Jemerrio Jones (HILL). Glasco is a very good defender and rebounder. He averaged 12.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in his final season at Connors State. He was ranked 43rd nationally in blocked shots and 15th nationally in rebounds. Jones is also a very good rebounder. He averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds per game in his final season at Hill.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 18-16 (8-10) No Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 7-

11. Florida Atlantic Basketball

Coach: Michael Curry

Off Roster:
Graduated: Javier Lacunza, Solomon Poole, and Jackson Trapp
Transferred: Marquan Botley

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: Adonis Filer (PG), Ronald Delph (C), Nick Rutherford (PG), Jeantal Cylla (SF), Jesse Hill (PF), and Matthew Reed (PF)
Key Transfer(s): William Gibbons (Florida State Jacksonville, SG), Gerdarius Troutman (Gordon State), William Pfister (Northwest Florida State), and Frank Booker (Oklahoma, SG)
Key Freshmen: Tyler Byrd (SG), Devorious Brown (SG), and Jailyn Ingram (SF)

Florida Atlantic will be returning several core players from the 2015-2016 season, including their top two (2) point producers, Adonis Filer and Ronald Delph. However, Florida Atlantic was bad in all categories including offense, defense, rebounds and assists. This team has a lot of improving to do in order to rise to the top of the Conference USA.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 8-25 (5-13) No Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 6-

12. Louisiana Tech Basketball

Coach: Eric konkol

Off Roster:
Graduated: Qiydar Davis, Alex Hamilton, and Leantwan Luckett
Transferred: Dayon Griffin (UCF), Branden Sheppard, and Merrill Holden (Iowa State)

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: Erik McCree (PF), Jacobi Boykins (SF), Derric Jean (PG), Joniah White (C), Jy'lan Washington (SF), and Da'Shawn Robinson (SG)
Key Transfer(s): LaBarrius Hill (Itawamba, SF) and Omar Sherman (Paris, PF)
Key Freshmen: Jalen Harris (PG), Daquan Bracey (PG), Jacolby 'Jakolby' Pemberton (SF) and Oliver Powell (PF)

Louisiana Tech lost a lot of players after the 2015-2016 season either to graduation or transfer. However, their 3rd best scorer, Erik McCree, is returning. He will have help from a couple of quality JUCO recruits in LaBarrius Hill and Omar Sherman . Both players are very good rebounders. Hill averaged 9.2 point and 6.2 rebounds per game in his final season at Itawamba. He was ranked 42nd nationally in rebounds that season . Sherman averaged 14.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in his final season at Paris. He was ranked 11th nationally in rebounds his final season.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 23-10 (12-6) Vegas 16- 1st round exit
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 5+

13. Texas San Antonio Basketball

Coach: Steven Henson

Off Roster:
Graduated: Ryan Bowie and George Matthews
Transferred: Phillip Jones (Houston State)

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: Christian Wilson (PG), J.R. Harris (SF), Nick Allen (PF), Lucas O'Brien (C), Nick Billingsley (SF), Austin Karrer (SG), Gino Littles (PG), A.J. Cockrell (C), James Ringholt (PF), and Kyle Massie (PG)
Key Freshmen: Giovanni De Nicolao (PG), George WilbornIII (SG), Mitar Stanojevic (SF) and Byron Frohnen (SF)

UTSA will return several of their core players. However, this team was very bad defensively last season and there is no evidence that anything will change this coming season.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 5-17 (3-15) No Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 4-

14. Southern Mississippi Basketball

Coach: Doc Sadler

Off Roster:
Graduated: Kourtlin Jackson and Michael O'Donnell
Transferred: Keljin Blevins

On Roster:
Key player(s) possibly returning: Khari Price (PG), Quinton Campbell (SG), Raheem Watts (SF), Tim Rowe (C), Eddie Davis III (SG), Michael Ramey (SG), Robert Thomas III (PG), and Cortez Edwards (PG)
Key Transfer(s): Marcus Cooper (Northeastern, SG)
Key Freshmen: Josh Conley (SF)

Southern Mississippi added a pretty good JUCO transfer to the roster in Marcus Cooper. He will bring to the team an ability to score. Other than that, nothing else changes with this team.

NCAA Basketball 2015-2016 Record: 8-21 (5-13) No Appearance
NCAA Basketball Projected Conference Wins 2016-2017: 4-


 

Conference USA Basketball 2016-2017 Very Early Projections
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