Mizzou Men's Basketball begins the 2017-18 season with the heightened excitement behind the start of new head coach Cuonzo Martin's first season in Columbia, as well as the addition of a Top 5 nationally ranked recruiting class to the Tigers' roster. The Black & Gold returns seasoned veterans to provide guidance to the highly touted newcomers, with senior forward Jordan Barnett (12.2), junior forward Kevin Puryear (11.8) and junior guard Terrence Phillips (10.4) having averaged double digits in scoring a season ago. Puryear was additionally an All-SEC Freshman Team honoree back in 2015-16. Freshmen forwards Michael Porter, Jr. and Jeremiah Tilmon will aim to make an impact early on for Mizzou, as well. Porter, Jr. was selected as the SEC's Preseason Co-Player of the Year to start of his opening campaign of collegiate basketball. Martin enters his 10th season as a head coach with an average of 20.7 wins per season, along with seven postseason appearances.
Coming off a season that saw the Red Storm turn in one of the nation’s best turnarounds in league play, the Johnnies return a solid core of talented players led by Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett, both of whom were named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team. After setting the St. John’s freshman scoring record with 573 points a season ago, Ponds was one of just 20 players across the country named to the preseason watch list for the Jerry West Award, honoring the NCAA’s top shooting guard. In addition to its veteran presence, the Red Storm also welcomes a core of promising newcomers led by Justin Simon and Marvin Clark II, transfers from Arizona and Michigan State, respectively. St. John’s is led by third-year head coach Chris Mullin, the two-time Naismith Hall of Fame inductee and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist. Prior to beginning a pro career that saw him earn All-NBA honors four times, Mullin scored 2,440 points for the Johnnies from 1981-85, culminating with a trip to the Final Four in his senior season.
Oregon State has 16 players on its roster, featuring 10 returning letter winners and six newcomers. All five starters return -- Stephen Thompson Jr., JaQuori McLaughlin, Kendal Manuel, Drew Eubanks and Gligorije Rakocevic -- as does Tres Tinkie, who missed all but six games last season with an injury. The newcomers are led by UMASS graduate transfer Seth Berger, MaxPreps First Team All-American Ethan Thompson and Gatorade Oregon Boys Basketball Player of the Year Zach Reichle. The Beavers return 95 percent of their scoring and 90 percent of their rebounding and assists from last season.
West Virginia enters the 2017-18 season returning eight letter winners and three starters from a team that won 28 games (third most in school history) and placed second in the Big 12 regular season and conference tournament. The Mountaineers advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 – the eighth NCAA appearance in coach Bob Huggins’ 10 seasons at his Alma Mater. Last season, Huggins became the 10th coach in NCAA Division I history to win 800 games and enters the season as the third-winningest active coach in college basketball with 819 wins. The Mountaineers are led by senior guards Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. Carter was the NABC Defensive Player of the Year last year and was recently tabbed a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team. WVU’s Press Virginia defense returns after leading the country in four statistical categories while setting the school record for points in a season a year ago.
Led by two former All-Big West big men, Long Beach State will look to return to the top of the Big West in 2017-18. Senior Gabe Levin and junior Temidayo Yussuf form an experienced duo inside, with both players previously earning second-team All-Big West honors. Those two returners will be complemented by an influx of new talent, including Gonzaga graduate transfer Bryan Alberts, junior college products Deishuan Booker and KJ Byers as well as a well-regarded incoming freshman class. The Beach is led by Dan Monson, the winningest coach in Long Beach State history, and is looking for his fifth postseason appearance with the team this season after leading LBSU to one NCAA appearance and three trips to the NIT.
Sixth-year Coach Tim Miles looks to have the Huskers rebound in 2017-18 after injuries derailed a promising start in Big Ten play last season. Glynn Watson Jr. anchors the Husker attack, as the 6-foot guard averaged 13.0 points, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game as a sophomore and could challenge for All-Big Ten honors. Sophomore Jordy Tshimanga moved into a starting role during Big Ten play and posted a trio of double-figure efforts, including 15 points against Michigan State, and could enjoy a breakout campaign. Transfer Isaac Copeland was a preseason All-Big East selection at Georgetown and averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 2015-16. Two other transfers, James Palmer (Miami) and Duby Okeke (Winthrop) could play significant roles, while ESPN100 recruit Thomas Allen highlights a trio of freshmen could earn early playing time.
The Red Foxes have an experienced core returning for the 2017-18 season, the fourth under head coach Mike Maker. Marist lost Khallid Hart, the program’s fourth all-time leading scorer, to graduation but returns four starters and nine letter winners. Junior guard Brian Parker scored 848 points in his first two seasons, and led the Red Foxes in rebounds and assists each of the last two years. Junior forward Ryan Funk more than doubled his scoring average last season (6.1 points per game as a freshman, 12.4 as a sophomore), and drained 81 three-pointers while shooting .405 beyond the arc. The Red Foxes are expecting immediate contributions from red-shirt sophomore forward Aleks Dozic, who sat out last season after transferring from Marshall.
On the heels of one of the best seasons in program history, the UCF men’s basketball team enters the 2017-18 campaign with high expectations in year two under head coach Johnny Dawkins. Led by All-Conference point guard B.J. Taylor, who averaged 17.4 points and 3.5 assists per game as a sophomore, the Knights doubled their win total from the previous year, finishing 24-12. UCF recorded its best ever finish in American Athletic Conference play, recording a mark of 11-7 and advancing to the league semifinals for the first time ever. The American Defensive Player of the Year, 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall, also returns for his junior campaign after helping lead the Knights to their first postseason berth in five years. Fall was second in the league with 9.5 rebounds per game and connected on 71.5 percent of his shots, as UCF reached the NIT semifinals for the first time in program history.
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