Wichita State joins the American Athletic Conference at the right time. This is one of the most well balanced teams that Wichita State has had in a long time. With their entrance into the conference, the American Athletic Conference will become much more competitive. This team is instantly the favorites to win the Conference Title.

The veteran Cincinnati team will be right on their trial though. The Bearcats will only get better with its additions.

No body’s talking much about Houston, the team that finished 3rd in the American Conference last season. The Cougars have most of their starters returning from that season and they’ve added some great pieces. This team will only get better this coming season.

Don’t forget about UCF! They’ve fixed a couple of problems from their successful 2016-2017 season. This team could very well reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005.

With that said, here is a projection of what the American Athletic Basketball Conference could look like in 2017-2018:

1. Wichita State Basketball

Coach: Gregg Marshall

Off Roster:
Transferred: Daishon Smith (LA Monroe) and Eric Hamilton (UNC Greensboro)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Landry Shamet (SG), Markis McDuffie (SF), Shaquille Morris (PF), Conner Frankamp (PG), Zach Brown (SF), Darral Willis Jr. (PF), Rashard Kelly (PF), Rauno Nurger (C), and Austin Reaves (PG)
Key Transfer(s): Samajae Haynes-Jones (PG, Hutchinson)
Key Freshmen added: Asbjorn Midtgaard (C)

Wichita State has all five (5) starters returning from the 2016-2017 season, which includes the top three (3) point producers in Landry Shamet, Markis McDuffie, and Shaquille Morris. With this group, Wichita State was very good in every category last season.

Wichita had a very successful 2016-2017 season, finishing in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. They did it by maintaining control of the ball. They were ranked 14th in the nation in the assists to turnovers ratio category.

Wichita State will only get better with the addition of JUCO transfer Samajae Haynes-Jones, who averaged 16.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in his final season at Hutchinson Community college.

2016-2017 Record: 31-5 Overall (17-1 Conference) NCAA Tournament 2nd Round Finish
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 14+

2. Cincinnati Basketball

Coach: Mick Cronin

Off Roster:
Graduated: Troy Caupain and Kevin Johnson

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Jacob Evans (SF), Gary Clark (PF), Kyle Washington (PF), Jarron Cumberland (SG), Justin Jenifer (PG), Tre Scott (PF), Nysier Brooks (C), and Quadri Moore (C)
Key Transfer(s): Cane Broome (PG, Sacred Heart)
Key Freshmen added: Keith Williams (PG), Mamoudou Diarra (PF), Trevor Moore (SG), and Eliel Nsoseme (C)

Cincinnati will be a very experienced team. The Bearcats will return their top three scorers in Jacob Evans, Gary Clark, and Kyle Washington. Two (2) out of the three (3) will return as seniors.

Cincinnati will also have Cane Broome on the roster for 2017-2018. Broome is a transfer from Sacred Heart, who sat out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. Broome averaged 23.1 points per game in his final season at Sacred Heart, in which he was ranked the 8th best scorer in the nation. Broome will give this great defensive team the fire power that it needs to push it to the top of the American Athletic Conference.

2016-2017 Record: 30-6 Overall (16-2 Conference) NCAA Tournament 2nd Round Exit
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 14+

3. Houston Basketball

Coach: Kelvin Sampson

Off Roster:
Graduated: Damyean Dotson, Danrad Knowles, Kyle Meyer, and Xavier Dupree
Transferred: Morris Dunnigan

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Galen Robinson Jr. (PG), Rob Gray Jr. (SG), Devin Davis (SF), Nura Zanna (PF), Wes VanBeck (SG), and Armoni Brooks (SG)
Key Transfer(s): Chris Harris (C, San Jacinto-Central), Breaon Brady (PF, Saddleback), Gabe Grant (SF, Three Rivers), and Corey Davis (PG, San Jacinto-Central)
Key Freshmen added: Fabian White, Mike Adewunmi, Gabe Grant, Cedrick Alley, and Corey Davis

Houston will return four (4) out of five (5) starters from the 2016-2017 season, which includes the team’s top scorer Rob Gray Jr., who averaged over 20 points per game last season. Gray was the top scoring player in the American Athletic Conference and was ranked the 26th best scorer in the nation last season. However, he and Damyean Dotson were the only two (2) players to have averaged double digits in scoring. For that reason, Houston has added three (3) high scoring JUCO transfers to the roster in Breaon Brady, Gabe Grant, and Corey Davis.

Houston should also get better on the defense with the addition of JUCO transfer Chris Harris. He was an excellent shot blocker at San Jacinto-Central, averaging 2.8 blocks per game. At 6’ 10” he will give Houston the height that they’ve needed to push the team to the next level.

2016-2017 Record: 21-11 Overall (12-6 Conference) NIT 1st round finish
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 13+

4. UCF Basketball

Coach: Johnny Dawkins

Off Roster:
Graduated: Matt Williams, Tanksley Efianayi, and Nick Banyard

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Tacko Fall (C), A.J. Davis (SF), Chance McSpadden (SG), Chad Brown (PF), and Nathan Laing (PG)
Key Transfer(s): Dayon Griffin (PG, Louisiana Tech), Aubrey Dawkins (SG, Michigan), Kani Coles (SF, Pensacola State), and Terrell Allen (PG, Drexel)
Key Freshmen added: Myles Douglas (SF) and Daniel Lewis (SG)

Thanks to big man Tacko Fall, UCF was one of the best defending teams in the nation last season. Falls had a total of 94 block shots per games, which made him the 6th best shot blocker in the nation, just under his conference mate Andre Washington of East Carolina. Falls also averaged 9.5 rebounds per game, which made him the best rebounder in the American Athletic Conference.

UCF’s only problem was offense. This team had the 3rd worst scoring offense in the American Athletic Conference. UCF will try to combat their scoring problems with the additions of Louisiana Tech’s Graduate transfer Dayon Griffin and Terrell Allen, a transfer from Drexel. Griffen was the 3rd best scorer on his team in his final season at Louisiana Tech. He averaged 11.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game that season. Allen led the team in assists in his final season at Drexel. He averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game that season.

2016-2017 Record: 24-12 Overall (11-7 Conference) NIT Semi-Finals
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 13+

5. SMU Basketball

Coach: Tim Jankovich

Off Roster:
Graduated: Ben Moore, Sterling Brown and Jonathan Wilfong
Transferred: Dashawn McDowell (Seattle)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Shake Milton (SG), Semi Ojeleye (SF), Jarrey Foster (SF), Akoy Agau (PF), and, Ben Emelogu II (SG)
Key Transfer(s): Jahmal McMurray (SG, South Florida)
Key Freshmen added: William Douglas (SG), Ethan Chargois (PF), Everett Ray (PF), and Elijah Landrum (PG)

SMU held their opponents to 60 points per game last season, which made them one of the best defending teams in the nation. They had a 14.3 scoring margin, which was the 7th best in the nation. SMU will return three (3) key players from that season, which includes starters, Semi Ojeleye, Shake Milton and Jarrey Foster.

SMU has also added South Florida’s graduate transfer, Jahmal McMurray, who was the top scorer for his team last season. McMurray averaged 15.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game in his final season.

2016-2017 Record: 30-5 Overall (17-1 Conference) NCAA Tournament 1st Round Exit
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 10+

6. Connecticut Basketball

Coach: Kevin Ollie

Off Roster:
Graduated: Amida Brimah, Rodney Purvis, Kentan Facey, Mike Noyes
Transferred: Vance Jackson (New Mexico), Steven Enoch (Louisville), Juwan Durham (Notre Dame)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Jalen Adams (SG), Terry Larrier (SF), and Christian Vital (SG)
Key Transfer(s): Antwoine Anderson (PG, Fordham), David Onuorah (PF, Cornell), and Eric Cobb (PF, Chipola)
Key Freshmen added: Tyler Polley (PF), Mamadou Diarra (PF, Red Shirt), Josh Carlton (C), and Isaiah Whaley (PF)

With the exception of Jalen Adams, Connecticut nearly loses their entire starting lineup. Howeer, Connecticut should get back Terry Larrier from an early injury. Larrier only played in four (4) games before getting hurt. He averaged 13.5 Points and 5 rebounds per game in his first four (4) games. Larrier’s return should allow Connecticut to improve in the scoring category. Connecticut was the 4th worst scoring team in the American Athletic Conference last season.

Connecticut has also picked up two (2) pretty good graduate transfers in Fordham’s Antwoine Anderson and Cornell’s David Onuorah. In his final season at Forham, Anderson averaged 11.1 points, 2.0 rebound and 3.2 assists per game. Onuorah averaged 5 points and 6.8 rebounds in his final season at Cornell.

Connecticut will also add top 150 recruit, Tyler Polley to the roster in 2017-2018.

2016-2017 Record: 16-17 Overall (9-9 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 10-

7. Memphis Basketball

Coach: Tubby Smith

Off Roster:
Graduated: Jake McDowell
Transferred: Dedric Lawson (Kansas), Markel Crawford (Ole Miss), K.J. Lawson (Kansas), Craig Randall II (Duquesne), Keon Clergeot (Massachusetts)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Jeremiah Martin (PG) and Jimario Rivers (SF)
Key Transfer(s): Kyvon Davenport (PF, Georgia Highlands), Kareem Brewton (SG, Eastern Florida State), Malik Rhodes (SG, Barton), Mike Parks, Jr. (PF, Southwest Mississippi), and Raynere Thornton (SF, Gordon State)
Key Freshmen added: Jamal Johnson (SG), Victor Enoh (PF), and David Nickelberry (SG)

There are going to be a lot of new faces on this team coming 2017-2018. For whatever reason, there was a mass exit from Memphis at the end of the 2016-2017 season. Thankfully, Coach Smith was able to patch together several competitive JUCO players that could help Memphis prevent encountering their first losing season since the 1999-2000 season.

JUCO players Kyvon Davenport, Raynere Thornton and Kareem Brewton were all solid defensive players in college and all of them have the ability to put up a lot of points.

Malik Rhodes is also a pretty solid scorer. However, he may not be as good defensively as the previous three (3) JUCO players mentioned.

Memphis has also added a top 150 freshman shooting guard in Jamal Johnson. He’s also capable of putting up a lot of points.

If all of these guys mesh well with returning starters, Jeremiah Martin and Jimario Rivers, Memphis should be alright.

2016-2017 Record: 19-13 Overall (9-9 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 9+

8. Tulsa Basketball

Coach: Frank Haith

Off Roster:
Graduated: Pat Birt,
Transferred: TK Edogi (Iona), Travis Atson (Quinnipiac)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Sterling Taplin (PG), Jaleel Wheeler (SG), Junior Etou (PF), Martins Igbanu (PF), Will Magnay (C), Corey Henderson Jr. (SG), and Lawson Korita (SG)
Key Transfer(s): Curran Scott (SG, Charlotte), and DaQuan Jeffries (SF, Western Texas)
Key Freshmen added: Darien Jackson (SG) and Elijah Joiner (PG)

Tulsa will get the majority of its starters back from the 2016-2017 season, which includes their top three (3) scorers, Sterling Taplin, Jaleel Wheeler, and Junior Etou. The problem was only one (1), out of the three (3) averaged double digits in scoring. As a result, Tulsa had a negative scoring margin of -2.8.

Tulsa will attempt to solve their scoring problems by adding a couple of pretty good transfers. Charlotte’s graduate transfer Curran Scott averaged 10.5 points per game in his final season and Western Texas’ junior college transfer, DaQuan Jeffries, who averaged 15.2 points per game in his final season.

The question is, will it be enough to push Tulsa towards the middle of the American standings.

2016-2017 Record: 15-17 Overall (8-10 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 9-

9. Temple Basketball

Coach: Fran Dunphy

Off Roster:
Graduated: Daniel Dingle, Mark Williams, Josh Brown, and Mike Robbins

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Shizz Alston Jr. (SG), Obi Enechionyia (PF), Alani Moore II (PG), Ernest Aflakpui (C), Quinton Rose (SG), Trey Lowe (SF, Red Shirt), Damion Moore (C), and Ayan Nunez de Carvalho (SG)
Key Freshmen added: Justyn Hamilton (PF), De'Vondre Perry (SF), J.P. Moorman (SF), and Nate Pierre-Louis (PG)

Temple will return four (4) out of five (5) starters from the 2016-2017 season. However, this wasn’t a very good scoring squad. Temple allowed their opponents to put up more points than they had scored on offense. The team had a -.0.3 scoring margin.

Depth may be another problem that Temple will face this coming season.

2016-2017 Record: 16-16 Overall (7-11 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 6+

10. East Carolina Basketball

Coach: Jeff Lebo

Off Roster:
Graduated: Andre Washington, Caleb White, Michel Nzege
Transferred: Deng Riak (Akron), Elijah Hughes (Syracuse)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: B.J. Tyson (PG), Kentrell Barkley (SF), Jeremy Sheppard (PG), Aaron Jackson (SF), Raquan Wilkins (SG), Shawn Williams(PG Red Shirt) and Jabari Craig (C)
Key Transfer(s): Isaac Fleming (PG, Hawaii), Seth LeDay (SF, Virginia Tech), Usman Haruna (C, Bismarck State), and Isaac Fleming (PG, Hawaii)
Key Freshmen added: K.J. Davis (SG)

Eastern Carolina was another team in the American Athletic Conference that had problems scoring. At an average of 63.3 points per game, East Carolina had one of the worst scoring offensive teams in the nation last season. However, their defense made up for it. Eastern Carolina held their opponents to an average 65.1 points per game that season.

On the other hand, Defense will only get better with the additions of transfers Seth LeDay and Usman Haruna. LeDay transferred to Virginia Tech but never played. While at Northwest Mississippi Community college LeDay average 18.5 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. He also blocked a total 42 shots, which made him the 60th best shock blocker in the National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA).

2016-2017 Record: 15-18 Overall (6-12 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 6+

11. South Florida Basketball

Coach: Brian Gregory

Off Roster:
Transferred: Geno Thorpe (Syracuse), Ruben Guerrero (Samford), Malik Fitts (Saint Mary’s), Michael Bibby, Bo Zeigler (George Washington), Jahmal McMurray (SMU), and Luis Santos (Saint Louis)

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Tulio Da Silva (PF), Troy Holston Jr (SG), and Isaiah Manderson (C)
Key Transfer(s): Stephan Jiggetts (PG, Fairleigh Dickinson), Payton Banks (SF, Penn State), Malik Martin (PF, USC), Nikola Scekic (C, Hutchinson), and Terrence Samuel (SG, Penn State)
Key Freshmen added: David Collins (SG), Alexis Yetna (PF), and Justin Brown (SF)

South Florida will begin the season with a new coach in Brian Gregory. Coach Gregory will have to rebuild after a mass exodus of last year’s players.

Coach Gregory has brought in several graduate transfers in an effort to put South Florida in a position to complete instantly. Farleigh Dickinson’s transfer, Stephan Jiggetts and Penn State’s transfer, Payton Banks, were quality players at their former teams. Everyone else was just fair players at their former teams.

South Florida will have to fight hard to move up in this growing conference.

2016-2017 Record: 7-23 Overall (1-17 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 6-

12. Tulane Basketball

Coach: Mike Dunleavy Sr.

Off Roster:
Graduated: Malik Morgan and Ryan Smith
Transferred: Kain Harris

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Melvin Frazier (SG), Cameron Reynolds (SF), Ray Ona Embo (SG), Colin Slater (PG), Blake Paul (PF), Jordan Cornish (SG), and Sammis Reyes (PF)
Key Transfer(s): Samir Sehic (PF, Vanderbilt)
Key Freshmen added: Henri Langton (PF) and Bul Ajang (C)

Tulane was one of the worst defensive teams in college basketball last season. They gave up, on average, 78.5 points per game to their opponents. This team will have to improve in nearly every department in order to stay out of the basement this coming season.

2016-2017 Record: 6-25 Overall (3-15 Conference)
Projected Conference Wins 2017-2018: 4-


*This projection is the sole view of d1coachcorner.com and should be seen as for entertainment purposes only. As for stats, all stats were taken from NCAA statistics via ncaa.com and the from the National Junior College Athletic Association statistic via NJCAA.com.

 

 

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Jack Williams, D1CoachCorner.com June 8, 2017, 8:00am
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American Athletic Basketball: 2017-2018 Very Early Predictions
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)