Former Lousiville/Missouri big man Zac Price will have an impact on the Big South next season.
We noted in our piece Saturday that we would begin to look ahead to next season this week. Thanks to an extremely promising Big South Tournament and solid foundation laid by the likes of Quincy Taylor, the Lancers are well positioned for the 2015-16. As a matter of fact 2015-16 should be THE year for Longwood basketball barring any unforeseen circumstances.
The Big South is not going to be as much of a grind next year and when you look at the 1st team, 2nd team, and honorable mention honors for the conference there could be 14 of the 15 players leaving if some transfer rumors pan out. Here is a look at where each team stands at this point:
Campbell: It was a rough year two for Kevin McGeehan in Buies Creek and you have to wonder if he’ll be around for long if his Richmond-style offense doesn’t start clicking in year three? Two of Campbell’s three top scorers, Andrew Ryan and Reco McCarter, are moving on and there have been rumors that DJ Mason may not be back either. Curtis Phillips and Troy Harper seem like solid building blocks and the Camels will add Lehigh transfer Shane Whitfield to the fray next year, but will it be enough to start competing in the Big South?
Charleston Southern: The Bucs will be decimated after this season and there have even been rumors of Barclay Radebaugh heading elsewhere after another successful season in North Charleston. Saah Nimley, Arlon Harper, Will Saunders, Paul Gombwer, and Cedrick Bowen all will be moving on which means 80% of the Bucs scoring is gone. Aaron Wheeler will be the only key contributor back after averaging 8.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists this past year. CSU is supposed to depend on a slew of JUCO transfers which is always a gamble.
Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers should be the favorite for a three-peat next season even though they lose a lot of talent in guards Josh Cameron and Warren Gillis. Badou Diagne, Marcus Freeman, and Tristian Curtis for a solid frontcourt rotation and Shavaughn Wiggins, Elijah Wilson and South Carolina transfer Jaylen Shaw should hold down the backcourt. Also, expect Colton Ray-St. Cyr to have an expanded role in Cliff Ellis’ offense moving forward.
Gardner-Webb: The Bulldogs have been rumor central for the past few weeks and there is a thought that there might be a mass exodus under head coach Tim Craft. Tyler Strange and Jarvis Davis move on at the very least and if Jerome Hill and Tyrell Nelson move on then it’s a total rebuild for the Running Bulldogs. Keep an eye on Boiling Springs this offseason.
High Point: John Brown announced this summer that this would be his last season at High Point and so far nothing has changed. Scott Cherry’s name has already been tossed around as a replacement for Paul Hewitt at George Mason and the Panthers will also lose Brian Richardson and Devante Wallace to graduation. HPU looks like a team with no interior presence whatsoever a year from now unless signees Alonzo Tyson and Ricky Madison can contributre right away.
Liberty: Who knows which way the Flames will go in their coaching search but it’s highly doubtful it’s a one year fix in Lynchburg. James Johnson and Andrew Smith will graduate this year and it will be interesting to see if Tomasz Gielo will stick around or if he’ll graduate and spend his one remaining year of eligibility elsewhere. There is usually roster upheaval when a bad team gets a new coach, which I fully expect for Liberty.
UNC Asheville: If Andrew Rowsey sticks around in Asheville then the Bulldogs can be a contender with the solid core of David Robertson, Sam Hughes, Kevin Vannatta, Giacomo Zilli, and Kem Ubaru but the question is will Rowsey look elsewhere and take the Kyle Hornsby route to a Power 5 school? The other question is would the Bulldogs be better off with a true point guard who spreads the ball around rather than a guy who takes 15 shots per game? I think either way UNCA is in good shape moving forward despite this year’s struggles down the stretch.
Presbyterian: PC was the surprise regular season team in the Big South this year and it will be interesting to see what they can carry over into next season. They’ll lose essentially 27 points and 12 rebounds of production with Jordan Downing and William Truss moving on. The good news is Big South Freshman of the Year DeSean Murray should be back along with the rest of the Hose’s core. Reggie Dillard, who sat out this year due to injury, will also be back after averaging 12.1 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.7 rebounds as a freshman. The biggest question mark for PC is do they have anyone who can compete in the post?
Radford: Despite winning 20+ games for the second year in a row the 2014-15 season had to be incredibly deflating for Mike Jones and the Radford Highlanders. Everything was building to this season with the core of Javonte Green, R.J. Price, Kyle Noreen, and Jalen Carethers. Radford will still have a solid squad lead by Ya Ya Anderson, Cam Jones, and Rashun Davis but they’ll be a lot less deep and should take a step back. If Kion Brown and Brandon Holcomb can step up and show they can be a formidable frontcourt then that could give the Highlanders a bit of a boost.
Winthrop: The Eagles might have the highest ceiling out of anyone next season. Sure, Keon Moore moves on but the Eagles have a solid foundation and some gems hiding on their bench. We all know what Keon Johnson and Derrick Henry can do but next year Division II transfer Roderick Perkins joins the fray. Perkins is an interesting prospect as he averaged 25 points per game at Erskine, which was second in the nation. Also the frontcourt should be one of the toughest, if not the toughest, in the Big South with not only the continued development of Xavier Cooks, Duby Okeke, and Joseph Lopez but also the addition of former Louisville and Missorui big man Zach Price.