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AAC 2019-20 Very Early College Basketball Predictions

(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

In the American Conference we’ve been hearing a lot about Memphis- and for good reasons. Coach Penny Hardaway has built this team into a major contender in division 1 basketball. This is an NCAA Final Four capable team.
The team that I am most excited about is South Florida. Even though this team was 8-10 in the American Conference last season they were very competitive. The player to watch on this team is Zack Dawson III, who is a very good ball player.
Wichita State should be ready to push their way back up to the top of the American. In addition, Connecticut, Temple, and Cincinnati are in the mix. The rest of these teams may struggle a little to find their way.
Keep in mind that after today things can change. Some teams still have scholarships left to fill. Cincinnati has 1, Connecticut has 2, Houston has 2, Memphis has 1, and UCF 1.
With that said, here is how we rank the American Conference for the 2019-20 season.

1. Memphis

Coach Hardaway did an excellent job with recruiting for this upcoming season. This is a team that has the potential to go deep into the post season. Now I got to be honest with you. This could have been a strong Final Four capable team with the addition of Little Rock’s graduate transfer Rayjon Tucker, but Tucker decided to keep his name in the NBA draft and forgo his last year of eligibility. Memphis could have used the experience. Without him this team gets younger. However, this is still the #1 recruiting class in the nation.
This is the strongest roster in the American. Coach Hardaway has every position covered however. There are guys on this team that can play every position well. Even without Rayjon Tucker this team has depth at every position. James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa definitely have first round pro potential.  This Memphis team is going to be fun to watch.

Projected starting 5:

Tyler Harris PG

Lester Quinones SG, #48

Precious Achiuwa SF, (Top 25)

Isaiah Maurice PF

James Wiseman C, (Top 10)

2. South Florida

South Florida is one of the only few team in division 1 basketball who will be returning all five (5) starters from the previous year. This team won the CBI Championship in 2019 and had an overall winning record of 24-14, their first 20+ win season since 2012. South Florida was 8-10 in the American Conference however - but that record doesn’t reflect how well this team played last season. This was one of the best defensive teams in the nation in 2018-2019. They were the 4th best defensive team in the American Conference and the 60th best nationwide.
What’s going to really decide the fate of this team next season is the play of Oklahoma State’s transfer Zack Dawson III. This guy is a beast! He’s a very good basketball player with a high basketball I.Q. He has a smooth game, he’s quick on his feet, has great court vision and can defend.
But according to Tampa Bay Times, Zack Dawson was dismissed from Oklahoma State for repeated team violations. That mean he may have some personality problems and is a big gamble for Coach Brian Gregory. However, I believe that the gamble on this troubled local basketball star will pay big dividends.  Dawson played in only five (5) games at Oklahoma State last season and averaged 10 minutes per game. But in those ten (10) minutes he's averaging 4.4 points per game. There is a long career in basketball for him if he could just keep himself out of trouble. This South Florida team should be in the hunt for first place this coming season if Dawson completes the entire season without troubles.

Projected Starting 5:

LaQuincy Rideau PG

David Collins SG

Justin Brown SF

Alexis Yetna PF

Michael Durr C

3. Wichita State

Wichita State finished in 6th place in the American Conference last season with a record of 10-8 conference record and an overall winning record of 22-15, a little bit better than predicted. They also finished in the semifinals of the NIT.
With so many young players on the roster last season Wichita State got off to a very slow start but ended up finishing strong in the American. Wichita State had a difficult time beating top tier teams in the American however.
Players like Jamarius Burton, Dexter Dennis, and Erik Stevenson have all gotten a year under their belts and should be ready give a little more to the team. Wichita State had problems moving the ball and with scoring last season. For this reason coach Gregg Marshall has added Four (4) Four-star freshmen to the roster in Tyson Etienne, Grant Sherfield, Noah Fernanades, and DeAntoni Gordon. This team has nowhere to go but up.

Projected Starting 5:

Jamarius Burton PG

Erik Stevenson SG

Dexter Dennis SF

Asbjorn Midtgaard C

Jaime Echenique C

4. Cincinnati

Cincinnati will start the 2019-2020 season with a new head coach in John Brannen. Coach Brannen had a lot of success at Northern Kentucky before leaving to take the job at Cincinnati. I believe that he is going to continue that success at Cincinnati.
Support players Nysier Brooks and Rashawn Fredricks have both transferred. Thankfully, Cincinnati's top three (3) scorers Jarron Cumberland, Keith Williams, and Tre Scott will be returning. Jarron Cumberland will be joined by his cousin Jaevin Cumberland. Jaevin will join Cincinnati as a graduate student. Jaevin played his final season at Oakland, where he was the star player. He finished the 2018-2019 season averaging 17.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He’ll more than likely be joined in the starting lineup with another graduate transfer, Jaume Sorolla, who played in 27 games in his final season at Valparaiso.

However, depth is a concern for this team.  Will Cincinnati have strong enough reserve players to sustain a lead?

Projected Starting 5:

Jarron Cumberland SG

Jaevin Cumberland SG (Oakland)

Keith Williams SG

Tre Scott PF

Jaume Sorolla C (Valpo)

5. UConn

UCONN should have four (4) out five (5) starters returning from the 2018-2019 season. If Dan Hurley could get this team to pay better defense, they could go far in the American. They also had problems moving the ball last season. Uconn was ranked 11th in the American and 223rd nationally in assists per game last season. I can’t kind find any evidence showing that ball movement is going to get any better. In other words, there isn’t a pure floor general on this team. The upside to this team is that they have top 100 freshman James Bouknight on the team and with him on board scoring should improve greatly.

Projected Starting 5:

Alterique Gilbert PG

Christian Vital SG

James Bouknight SG (Top 100)

Tyler Polley PF

Josh Carlton C

6. Temple

Temple will start the season off with a new head coach in Aaron Mckie. Temple will get back three (3) starters from the 2018-2019 season, which includes their 2nd and 3rd best scorers, Nate Pierre-Louis and Quinton Rose. Temple also have the luxury of adding transfer guard James Scott from Kennesaw State. Scott will fill the void left by graduating senior Shizz Alston. Also look for Damion Moore to play a bigger role in the offense to fill the void left open by graduating senior Ernest Aflakoui. This should be a good Temple team next season.

Projected Starting 5:

Nate Pierre-Louis PG

Quinton Rose SG

James Scott SG (Kennesaw State)

De'Vondre Perry SF

Damion Moore C

7. Tulsa

Coach Frank Haith can’t afford to go another season without some type of tournament appearance. Even though I like coach Haith a lot this game is about tournament appearances at the end of the day, in particular the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, this roster looks more like a mid-major roster than a major one. I’m just saying. Tulsa is going to get back two (2) of their top three scorers from the 2018-2019 season in Martins Igbanu and Jeriah Horne. The question for this team is, have they done enough to fix their ball movement problem? Will Elijah Joiner elevate his game enough to become the floor general for this team and can Freshman Isaiah Hill successfully back him up?

Projected Starting 5:

Elijah Joiner PG

Lawson Korita SG

Brandon Rachal SF (Pearl River Community College)

Martins Igbanu PF

Jeriah Horne PF

8. SMU

There is an upside to this SMU team for the 2019-2020 season. SMU will have one of the best JUCO players in the country on its roster in Tyson Jolly. He is one of the best all-around JUCO players we've seen in a long time. If Everett Ray is healthy this team could be very competitive in the American Conference. However, there seems to be something missing from this team. Can't quite figure out what it is yet.

Projected Starting 5:

Bryce Cook (SG)

Tyson Jolly SG (Trinity Valley)

Feron Hunt SF

Isiaha Mike PF

Ethan Chargois PF

9. Houston

When Armoni Brooks decided that he was going to stay in the pros that did it for Houston. They went from a major contender for the American regular season title to a middle of the conference type team. Fortunately, Houston has two (2) scholarships to fill now that Armoni Brooks is gone. The right graduate transfer could put them right back in contention for the American title. Until then, support players Nate Hinton and Cedrick Alley Jr. may be asked to play bigger roles on this team in order for them to stay competitive. Nate Hinton has the most potential to put up good numbers next season. He played in 37 games last season averaging 7.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game last season.

Projected Starting 5:

Dejon Jarreau PG

Nate Hinton PG

Justin Gorham SF, Townson

Fabian White Jr. PF

Cedrick Alley Jr. PF

 10. UCF

UCF will depend heavily on transfers next season. Unfortunately, UCF don't have many top tier transfers on the roster. Most of these guys were support players at some point or another. UCF had a good season in 2018-2019 but the 2019-20 season may be a little challenging with this team.

Projected Starting 5:

Tony Johnson PG

Dazon Ingram SG (Alabama)

Matt Milon SG (William & Mary)

Frank Bertz SG

Collin Smith C

11. East Carolina

This team is sort of like UCF, except that a large majority of the roster is made up of mid-level JUCO transfers. Fortunately, Eastern Carolina will return two (2) of their top scorers from the 2018-2019 season in Shawn Williams and Jayden Gardner.

Projected Starting 5:

Shawn Williams PG

Jaquan 'J.J.' Miles SG (Cape Fear)

Logan Curtis SG

Jayden Gardner PF

Charles Coleman C

12. Tulane

This team has way too many new faces. Getting to the top of the American is an uphill battle for this team.
Projected Starting 5:

Projected Starting 5:

Ray Ona Embo PG

Christion Thompson SG (Rhode Island)

Kevin Zhang PF

Nobal Days C

Bul Ajang C


College Basketball 2019-2020 Predictions

American Athletic Conference (AAC) | Athletic Coast Conference (ACC) | Big East Conference | Big Ten Conference

Big 12 Conference | Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) | Pac 12 | South Eastern Conference (SEC) | Sun Belt

Mountain West Conference (MWC) | West Coast Conference (WCC) | More...

Podcast: AAC 2019-20 Very Early College Basketball Predictions - Episode 27