St. John’s Red Storm
St. John’s (Head Coach: Chris Mullin, Big East Conference) – In three seasons as head coach, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Chris Mullin has begun to turn around the fortunes of his alma mater…the Red Storm won 16 games this past season, the most since taking over the program…included in those wins was one of the best weeks of the season when St. John’s defeated No. 4 Duke and No. 1 Villanova…guard Shamorie Ponds earned first-team All-Big East honors for leading the conference in scoring (21.6 ppg) and steals (2.6 spg) to go with a team-high 142 assists…he headlines a squad that is expected to return three of its top four scorers, including forward Marvin Clark II, who averaged 12.5 ppg, and Justin Simon, who recorded 12.2 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds per contest…the Red Storm have been to 28 NCAA Tournaments and two Final Fours.
Temple (Head Coach: Fran Dunphy, American Athletic Conference) – Fran Dunphy led Temple to the 2018 NIT, the Owls’ ninth postseason berth in his 12 seasons at the helm of the Temple program…three starters return from the 17-win squad, led by leading scorer guard Quinton Rose, who tallied a team-high 14.9 ppg to go with a team-best 49 steals en route to All-American Athletic Conference honors…guard Shizz Alston Jr. led the Owls with 102 assists to go with his 13.3 ppg average…guard Nate Pierre-Louis (7.5 ppg) was named to the AAC’s All-Rookie team…Temple loses only three players from the 2017-18 roster…the Owls have been to 32 NCAA Tournaments and advanced to a pair of Final Fours.
VCU (Head Coach: Mike Rhoades, Atlantic 10 Conference) – Since joining the Atlantic 10 six seasons ago, VCU has won 73 league games – the most of any A-10 team during that span – and reached the title game of the A-10 Tournament five times…this past season, the Rams won 18 games on a team which featured nine newcomers in Mike Rhoades’ first year at the helm of the program…three starters and six players who started at least seven games this past season are expected to return…leading the pack is De’Riante Jenkins, who averaged 12.9 ppg to go with 83 assists and a team-high 44 steals…swingman Issac Vann averaged 9.8 ppg…the Rams have advanced to the NCAA Tournament 16 times with one Final Four appearance.
California Golden Bears
California (Head Coach: Wyking Jones, Pacific-12 Conference) – Wyking Jones took over at Cal a year ago, inheriting a team with just two returning letterwinners…this coming season, the Golden Bears will look to benefit from gaining valuable experience as three of the team’s top five scorers return, each of whom were freshmen last season: Justice Sueing tallied 13.8 ppg and is the Bears’ leading returning rebounder at 5.4 rpg, Darius MacNeill averaged 11.3 ppg and handed out a team-best 70 assists, and Juhwan Harris-Dyson scored 6.2 ppg…they will be joined by a Top-25 recruiting class in 2018-19…the Bears have been to 26 NCAA Tournament and three Final Fours, winning the national title in 1959.
Detroit Mercy Titans
Detroit Mercy (Head Coach: TBA, Horizon League) – Three starters and eight letterwinners are expected to return in 2018-19…swingman Kameron Chatman, who declared for the NBA Draft but has not signed with an agent, led the Titans in scoring (17.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg) en route to second-team All-Horizon League honors…he also shot 41percent from 3-point territory (60-of-145)…guard Jermaine Jackson Jr., who started 24 of 30 games as a freshman this past season, garnered All-Freshman team laurels for averaging 10.5 ppg to go with a team-high 80 assists…the Titans have been to six NCAA Tournaments and played in the 2010 and 2014 Legends Classics.
Bowling Green Falcons
Bowling Green (Head Coach: Michael Huger, Mid-American Conference) – Four starters are expected to return in Michael Huger’s fourth season as head coach at Bowling Green…guard Justin Turner was named to the MAC All-Freshman team as well as being named honorable mention all-league for leading the Falcons with a 15.9 ppg scoring average, as well as with 81 assists and 47 steals…forward Demajeo Wiggins garnered second-team All-MAC honors in scoring 13.7 ppg and hauling down a team-best 10.1 rpg…he also led the Falcons with 15 blocked shots…in all, the top four scoring Falcons return in 2018-19…Bowling Green has been to four NCAA Tournaments and played in the 2010 Legends Classic.
Hampton (Head Coach: Edward Joyner, Big South Conference) – Edward Joyner leads the Pirates into a new era as Hampton moves from the MEAC to the Big South Conference for the 2018-19 season…the Pirates earned their fifth-straight postseason bid in 2018 by playing in the NIT after winning the MEAC regular season title…four of five starters and five of the top six scorers return, led by first-team All-MEAC selection guard Jermaine Marrow, who finished his sophomore season ranked 21st on the all-time Hampton scoring list with 1,133 points after leading the Pirates in scoring at 19.1 ppg…he also had 184 assists…guard Kalin Fisher averaged 12.8 ppg…as a team, the Pirates smashed the single season free throw percentage mark, hitting at a 77.7 percent clip…Hampton has been to six NCAA Tournaments in its history.
Loyola Maryland Greyhounds
Loyola Maryland (Head Coach: Tavaras Hardy, Patriot League) – Tavaras Hardy takes over at Loyola after serving as an assistant coach at Georgia Tech (2016-18), Georgetown (2013-16), and his alma mater, Northwestern (2007-13)…Hardy inherits a team on which three of the top five scorers from this past season are expected to return in 2017-18…highlighting the returning players is guard Chuck Champion, who is the Greyhounds’ leading returning scorer at 11.5 ppg…backcourt mate Andrew Kostecka netted 11.0 ppg and led the team with 54 steals and 29 blocked shots, earning Patriot League All-Defensive team honors for his efforts…Loyola has been to two NCAA Tournaments.
NC State Wolfpack
Head coach Mark Gottfried led the Wolfpack to a 22-14 record last season and a trip to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament…in his four years at NC State, Gottfried has guided his teams to the NCAA Tournament each of those seasons, becoming just the fourth coach in ACC history to do so…nine players, including three starters, are back, headlined by junior Cat Barber (12.1 ppg, 130 assists) and junior forward Abdul-Malik Abu (6.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg)…this will be the Wolfpack’s second Legends Classic appearance (2011). Official Site
TOP CAT: Anthony “Cat” Barber is NC State’s top returning player from last season. A junior from Newport News, Va., Barber averaged 12.1 points and 3.7 assists last season as the Wolfpack went 22-4 and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
IN THE PAINT: NC State returns three post players from last year, each of whom bring something different to the team. BeeJay Anya is a rim-protecting junior who blocked 91 shots and was voted ACC Sixth Man of the Year last season. Abdul-Malik Abu is a sophomore from Boston who had a double-double in the NCAA Tournament against Villanova last season. Junior Lennard Freeman is the team’s leading rebounder with 5.7 boards per game.
Marquette Golden Eagles
Marquette is under the direction of second-year head coach Steve Wojciechowski, who served on Mike Krzyzewski’s staff at Duke for 15 years after his playing career at Duke came to an end…back in 2015-16 are sophomore guard Duane Wilson (11.9 ppg, 68 assists) and junior center Luke Fischer (11.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg)…they will be joined by one of the best recruiting classes in school history, headlined by five-star recruit 6-10 Henry Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis.)…Marquette will be making its first appearance in the Legends Classic. Official Site
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KING HENRY: Marquette’s nationally ranked recruiting class is rated as high as the 10th-best group in the country and is highlighted by McDonald’s All-American Henry Ellenson. Ellenson was named to the All-Big East second-team, becoming the first freshman to earn first- or second-team honors since the conference’s preseason All-Rookie Team was discontinued in 1992-93. He was also named to the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year watch list. His brother, Wally, is also a member of the Golden Eagles’ program, having transferred from Minnesota.
THE VETS: Duane Wilson and Luke Fischer highlight Marquette’s core of returnees. Wilson was named to the Big East Rookie team last season after leading all first-year players in the league with 11.9 ppg. He started 29 of the squad’s 32 matchups and finished among the league leaders in steals (13th, 1.2 spg) and three-pointers (13th, 1.5pg). Fischer, a transfer from Indiana, averaged 11.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game after becoming eligible mid-season. He started 19 of the 24 contests in which he appeared and concluded the campaign fifth in the league in field goal percentage (.609) and fourth in blocked shots (2.2 bpg).
Head coach Johnny Jones has won 61 games in three seasons at his alma mater, improving the Tigers’ win-loss record every season…this past year, LSU was 22-11 and earned an NCAA Tournament bid…three starters return, as well as 10 players from the 15-man roster…senior guard Keith Hornsby (13.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg) headlines the returning players…joining the roster will be one of the nation’s top-rated recruiting class, led by 6-10 National High School Player of the Year Ben Simmons, the No. 1 recruit in the country and projected top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft…LSU will be playing in the Legends Classic for the first time. Official Site
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES: Head coach Johnny Jones is in his fourth year at LSU. In three seasons, he has guided the Tigers to 61 wins and has taken two Tiger teams to postseason play. The 61 wins are the most for any coach in his first three years at LSU and he is the only one to take two of his first three teams to postseason play.
THE RETURNING NUCLEUS: LSU’s leading returning scorer is senior Keith Hornsby, who averaged 13.4 points per game and made the winning three-pointer to defeat Arkansas at the buzzer in the season finale at Fayetteville. Quarterman, a junior, averaged 11.5 points per game and 4.0 assists and LSU’s other senior, guard Josh Gray, averaged 7.1 ppg last season.
Arizona State Sun Devils
After a successful two-year run at Buffalo, Bobby Hurley was hired to head the program at Arizona State…the former All-American at Duke led the Bulls to a two-year record of 42-20 and a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2015…he inherits a team that was 18-16 with an NIT appearance…four starters and eight letterwinners are back…senior guard Gerry Blakes (11.1 ppg, 60 assists) and junior forward Savon Goodman (11.2 ppg, team-high 7.6 rpg) lead the group…this will mark the Sun Devils’ first time playing in the Legends Classic…Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins had his number honored at ASU. Official Site
AT HOME IN THE DESERT: ASU is 47-8 (.854) the past three seasons at home and is the only team to beat the past three Pac-12 champions in that time (UCLA in 2013, Arizona in 2014 and 2015). Those 47 wins are the fourth-most in the Pac-12 and tied for 10th in the nation.
EJ MAKES SHOTS: He doesn’t take many of them, but when he does, he makes them. Eric Jacobsen shot .626 from the field (102-of-163) last season, the fourth-best season mark in Sun Devils history. Jacobsen averaged 28.6 minutes, 8.3 points, and 5.9 rebounds in 34 games after averaging 8.8 minutes, 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds in his first two seasons.
WHAT WILL HE DO PLAYING AN ENTIRE SEASON?: After not playing in a college hoops game for 635 days and missing the first nine games last year after transferring, Savon Goodman in the final 12 games averaged 12.9 points and 9.7 rebounds while shooting 66-of-107 (.617) from the field.
The Bruins posted a 22-11 record in winning the OVC championship and earning their seventh NCAA Tournament bid in the last decade…only Gonzaga has earned seven automatic bids in the last decade and only Gonzaga and Kansas have won more league titles than the 14 by Belmont since 2006…head coach Rick Byrd, who lost three starters prior to the 2014-15 season, welcomes back four in 2015-16, led by first-team All-OVC senior guard Craig Bradshaw (18.3 ppg, 94 assists) and second-team All-OVC junior swingman Evan Bradds (14.2 ppg, team-high 7.2 rpg). Official Site
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RIPPING THE RPI: Belmont is also one of only 10 non-Power 5 programs to post a Top 100 RPI each of the last five seasons.
SMART STUFF: Belmont boasts an NCAA-leading 12 Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America selections since 2001, and is one of only three Division I programs to make the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) Honor Roll every year of existence.
FLYING HIGH: Belmont head coach Rick Byrd enters the 2015-16 season ranked seventh among all active NCAA Division I head coaches in career victories with 711. Only three head coaches in the nation have been at their respective institutions longer than Byrd’s 30 years of service at Belmont (Mike Krzyzewski, Duke; Jim Boeheim, Syracuse; Greg Kampe, Oakland). Under Byrd’s guidance, the Bruins have won 239 games and posted a remarkable 167-38 (.815) record in conference games over the past 10 years.
Now in his second season, IUPUI head coach Jason Gardner has rebuilt the Jaguars…senior point guard Marcellus Barksdale is the top returning starter and is coming off a season where he posted a team-high 9.5 ppg average to go along with 74 assists…senior back court mate Mason Archie netted 7.6 ppg a year ago…four transfers who sat out last season are expected to provide a major boost to the program, led by Eastern Michigan transfer Darell Combs (7.5 ppg in 2013-14). Official Site
WELCOME BACK: Four starters and six letterwinners return from last season. Senior guard Marcellus Barksdale headlines the group, having averaged 9.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game a year ago. He was recently voted preseason second-team All-Summit League. Other returning starters include senior guard Mason Archie (7.6 ppg) and sophomores Aaron Brennan (6.4 ppg) and D.J. McCall (4.8 ppg).
ALL ABOARD: The Jaguars’ roster is bolstered by the additions of four Division I transfers, all of whom sat out last season. Junior guard Darell Combs leads that group, having averaged 7.5 points per game at Eastern Michigan in 2013-14. Three other transfers from Loyola Chicago – Matt O’Leary, Nick Osborne, and Jordan Pickett – will all be vying for heavy minutes.
MASTERS OF THEIR DOMAINS: Academically, IUPUI boasted four graduates on last year’s roster, including Barksdale and Archie. Barksdale is currently pursuing his Masters in Sport Communications and Archie is pursuing his Masters in Philosophy.
Kennesaw State Owls
The Owls are under the direction of former National Coach of the Year and two-time Big East Coach of the Year Al Skinner…Skinner, who served as head coach at Boston College and Rhode Island, inherits a team which sees three starters return from the 2014-15 season, led by a pair of seniors…guard Yonel Brown led the Owls with a 15.2 ppg scoring average while also handing out a team-best 2.8 assists per game…forward Nigel Pruitt tallied 12.2 ppg.
BACK IN THE NEST: The Owls return four starters from last year’s team that won the most games at Kennesaw State since the 2009-10 season. Two of those starters are seniors Yonel Brown and Nigel Pruitt. They were the top two scorers for KSU last season as Brown averaged 15.2 ppg and Pruitt averaged 12.2 ppg.
BROWNIE POINTS: Yonel Brown broke several Kennesaw State records last season. He set the highest mark for free throw percentage going 135-for-150 from the line to go 90 percent from the charity stripe. He also set two single-game records since the Owls joined NCAA Division I, scoring 36 points as well as making seven three-pointers against Jacksonville.
South Alabama Jaguars
In his third season at South Alabama, head coach Matthew Graves now has a roster with which to work…only six players returned in 2014-15; this season three starters are back…second-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection Ken Williams led the Jaguars in scoring at 15.7 ppg and dished out 80 assists on the season…sophomore guard Taishaun Johnson netted 12.5 ppg and pulled down 4.1 rpg…senior guard Barrington Stevens led USA with 104 assists. Official Site
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THE RECORD BREAKER: Taishaun Johnson set several South Alabama freshman records last year, including points scored (414), free throws (138), and free throw attempts (177). His 12.5 ppg scoring average was second best.
GET THIS: Barrington Stevens III became just the second player in USA history to have two seasons with an assist/turnover ratio of 2.0 or greater, and first since 1981.
PRIME TIME: Ken Williams averaged 11.5 points and shot 30.6 percent from the floor in the first 13 games last season. He then went on to average 18.5 points in the final 20 contests, with nine 20-point outings, to earn All-Sun Belt recognition with a team-high season scoring average of 15.7 points with 87 conversions from three-point land. He also became first Jaguar since 1988-89 to post 23 points or more in four consecutive games, and first since 2007-08 to have 20 or more in five straight outings.