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Sun Belt 2019-20 Conference Preseason Predictions

(Scott Kinser/Cal Sport Media)

Since joining the Sun Belt in 2013, Georgia State has dominated the Sun Belt – finishing below 2nd place only once during this time period. Georgia State finished in 6th place in 2015-16. With Ron Hunter gone, this team will have new feel and will more than likely use this season as a rebuilding season. With Georgia State out of the way, Georgia Southern has the greatest chance of taking the #1 spot in the Sun Belt. This high scoring Georgia Southern finished the 2018-19 season in a three (3) way tie with UT Arlington and Texas State. Fortunately, Georgia Southern has most of its players returning from that season.
Texas State has lost a few players, but they have successfully replaced what they’ve lost with quality players. Expect this team to be well balanced.
Watch out for Coastal Carolina and South Alabama. These tow (2) teams could be very dangerous.

With that said, here is our Sun Belt Conference predictions for the 2019-20 season:

1. Georgia Southern Eagles

Georgia Southern finished third in the Sun Belt last season and is in position to expand on that record in 2019-20. The return of starter Ike Smith is a big plus for this team. Smith returns to Georgia Southern after missing 23 games due to injury. Even though this team still doesn’t have a true point guard on board, they will still be one of the most dangerous offensive teams in NCAA basketball. Averaging 82.5 points per game, Georgia Southern was the 15th best offensive scoring team in the nation. The addition of JUCO transfer Trevion Lamar will make this team even more dangerous. Lamar was a scoring machine at Northern Oklahoma. Georgia Southern will also look for Simeon Carter to play a bigger role in his senior season. Carter played in 28 games and started in 5 last season. This Georgia Southern team has a very good chance to win the Sun Belt this season.

Projected Starting 5:

Calvin Wishart PG

Quan Jackson SG

Ike Smith SG

Isaiah Crawley PF

Simeon Carter PF

2. Texas State Bobcats

Texas State should remain a very good defensive and ball moving team with the return of combo guard Marlin Davis, who only played and started in 16 games last season due to a knee injury.  Texas State will also have a very good JUCO point guard on the roster in DeShawn Davidson, who averaged 17.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game in his final season at Des Moines Area college. He will play beside another JUCO star Isiah Small from Seward County Community College. Smalls can play both ends of the court well. He is also a very good rim protector who ranked 35th in the nation in blocked shot in his final season Seward County. Even though Texas State is lacking in size,  this team should be deep enough to win the Sun Belt in 2019-20.

Projected Starting 5:

Marlin Davis SG

Nijal Pearson SG

Isiah Small SF (Seward County)

Alonzo Sule SF

Eric Terry PF

3. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Coastal Carolina Finished the 2018-19 season tied for sixth place in the Sun Belt at 9-9. Not bad. Well, Coastal Carolina will return three (3) out of five (5) of their top scorers from last season in Devante Jones, Tyrell Gumbs-Frater, and Ebrima Dibba. Returning support players Tommy Burton and Isaac Hippolyte should see more playing time and should be expected to play bigger roles on the team. Expect scoring to remain high with the additions of two (2) sharp shooting JUCO transfers Keishawn Brewton and Garrick Green. Both players have the potential to put-up double-digit numbers on a consistent bases. Brewton ranked 36th in the nation in scoring in his final season at Chipola community college, while  Green  ranked  88th in the nation in scoring in his final season at Howard Community College. On the other hand, there is no evidence showing that Coastal Carolina will improve on the defensive side of the ball. Coastal Carolina gave up on average 74.1 points per game last season. They were ranked 245th in the nation in scoring defense in 2018-19.  However, expect this team to compete for the top of the Sun Belt Conference.

Projected Starting 5:

Ebrima Dibba PG

Devante Jones PG

Tyrell Gumbs-Frater SG

Tommy Burton SF

Isaac Hippolyte PF

4. South Alabama Jaguars

This is a very dangerous South Alabama team. The one thing that you can expect from this team in 2019-20 is an increase in scoring. There are several players on this teams, from potential starters to support players, who can put-up double-digit numbers daily. Three of the team’s top five scorers are returning. However, South Alabama ranked only 9th in the Sun Belt and 160th in the nation  in scoring last season. Fortunately for this team, they will be adding three division 1 transfers who were stars on their previous teams. California's transfer Don Coleman was the top point producer on the team in his final season there, averaging 14.2 points per game. High Points transfer Andre Fox was the second-best point producer on his team in his final season there, averaging 15.7 points per game. Howard's graduate transfer Chad Lott was the third best scorer on his team in his final season. He averaged 14.3 point per game that season. Unfortunately, this team is very small. Rebounding may continue to be a problem for this team. Alabama was the worst rebounding team in the Sun Belt last season.

Projected Starting 5:

Chad Lott PG (Howard)

Herb McGee SG

Trhae Mitchell SF

Josh Ayeni PF (St. Bonaventure)

Josh Ajayi PF

5. Appalachian State Mountaineers

Even though there will be several players missing from the roster from the 2018-19 season, four (4) starters from this team will be returning for the 2019-20 season.  Top two (2) scorers Justin Forrest and  Isaac Johnson will continue to help this team be one of the top scoring teams in the Sun Belt. Appalachian State put up on average 79.9 points per game last season. On the other hand, Appalachian State was one of the worst defensive teams in the nation, allowing their opponents to put on average 79.3 points per average. Lack of defense will probably keep this team from competing for the top of the Sun Belt.

Projected Starting 5:

Michael Bibby PG (USF)

Justin Forrest PG

Adrian Delph SG

Isaac Johnson PF

Hunter Seacat PF

6. Troy Trojans

Javan Johnson will all be gone from the roster. However, this team will have a very good coach at the head in Coach Scott Cross. Fortunately, Coach  Cross has added three (3) very good JUCO players to the roster in JiTaurious Gordon, Khalyl Waters, and Nick Stampley. Waters is a great all-around player. He is an excellent defender, can rebound, and can score. He averaged 18.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game in his final season at Eastern Florida State. JiTaurious Gordon is also an excellent defender and can score at will. He averaged 20.6 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game in his final season at Northwest Mississippi. This Troy team will be very dangerous to play at the leadership of coach Scott Cross.

Projected Starting 5:

JiTaurious Gordon PG (Northwest Mississippi)

Darian Adams SG

Khalyl Waters SF (Georgia Highlands)

Zay Williams PF

Nick Stampley PF (Eastern Florida State)

7. UT Arlington Mavericks

Coach Ogden had a few players to transfer after the 2018-19 season. The teams 2nd best scorer, Edric Dennis,  transferred to TCU. Other support players to transfer were Andres Ibarguen and Patrick Binzer. However, the nucleus of the team is still there. Frequent starters Brian Warren, Tiandre Jackson-Young, David Azore, and Ayoub Nouhi are returning. Coach Ogden is going to need Jabari Narcis to step up and play bigger roles to remain competitive in the Sun Belt.

Projected Starting 5:

Brian Warren PG

Tiandre Jackson-Young SG

David Azore SG

Ayoub Nouhi SF

Jabari Narcis PF

8. Little Rock Trojans

This is a team that had some very good point guards last season. Point guards Markquis Nowell and Jaizec Lottie averaged over 8 assists per game last season. For that reason, Little Rock ranked third in assists per game in the Sun Belt that year. The one problem with this team, however, was defense. Little Rock had a negative 1.7 scoring margin last season, which means that their opponents put up way more points per game than they did. If this team wants to move up in the Sun Belt standing next season, they are going to have to learn to play better defense.

Projected Starting 5:

Markquis Nowell PG

Marko Lukić SG

Horace Wyatt Jr. SF

Nikola Maric PF

Kris Bankston PF

9. Arkansas State Red Wolves

Third year head coach Mike Balado is looking to improve on is record from last season. Unfortunately, this team is still lacking depth at the point guard position. Arkansas State ranked dead last in the Sun Belt and 311th in the nation in assists per game last season. This team will look for graduate transfer and combo guard Jerry Johnson Jr. from Chattanooga to help in the assist category. Little Rock will also look for support players Malik Brevard and J.J. Matthews to play bigger roles this coming season.

Projected Starting 5:

Marquis Eaton PG

Jerry Johnson Jr. SG (Chattanooga)

Malik Brevard SF

Lony Francis, Jr. PF (Vincennes)

J.J. Matthews PF

10. UL Monroe Warhawks

Even though there will be several new faces on this team, Louisiana-Monroe will be returning two (2) of their top three (3) scorers, Michael Ertel and JD Williams. This team should look for Tyree White to play in bigger role in their lineup. White played in 35 games last season and started in only 6. Other than that, the remainder of this roster will be made up of several JUCO transfers who will be looking to make a big impact on the division 1 level.
Projected Starting 5:

Michael Ertel PG

JD Williams SG

Tyree White SF

Elijah Ifejeh PF (Hill)

Luke Phillips PF (Hill)

11. Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

Over half of this team’s roster will be made up of new faces. Louisiana’s top three-point producers JaKeenan Gant, Malik Marquetti, and Marcus Stroman are all gone - and Justin Miller and Jerekius Davis have both transferred. That’s over 60 points missing from the team -ouch!!! In other words, this team in rebuild mode. Unfortunately, there isn't one player on this team who has averaged in double digit figures on the division 1 level. Getting to the top of the Sun Belt may be an uphill battle for this team.

Projected Starting 5:

P.J. Hardy PG

Cedric Russell SG

Jalen Johnson SF (Saint Louis)

Doudou Gueye PF (Daytona State)

Tirus Smith PF  (Jones)

12. Georgia State Panthers

Georgia State has lost all its key people after the 2018-19 season, which includes their star coach Ron Hunter, who is now at Tulane. They will also be without their star players D'Marcus Simonds, Malik Benlevi, and Jeff Thomas. Georgia State will have to depend on newcomers and bench players from the 2018-19 season to compete in the Sun Belt. With a new coach and several new players, winning the Sun Belt this season may be an uphill battle for this as well.

Projected Starting 5:

Justin Roberts PG (DePaul)

Kane Williams SG

Corey Allen SG (Detroit Mercy)

Josh Linder PF

Chris Clerkley PF

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: Sun Belt 2019-20 College Basketball Predictions - Episode 27