Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State (Head Coach: Patrick Chambers, Big Ten Conference) – Entering his seventh season, Patrick Chambers has brought new energy to the Penn State program…with the Nittany Lions’ last two recruiting classes being the two best in school history…this year’s roster is highlighted by senior guard Shep Garner, junior Josh Reaves and sophomores Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens, and Mike Watkins…Penn State has been to nine NCAA Tournaments and one Final Four…this is its first Legends Classic appearance.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State (Head Coach: Mike Boynton, Big 12 Conference) – Brooklyn native Mike Boynton, an assistant at
OSU last season, takes the reigns of the program in 2017…the Cowboys, who won 20 games and earned an NCAA bid last year, are led by senior wing Jeffrey Carroll, who earned All-Big 12 honors after averaging 17.5 ppg and 6.6 rpg on 44.4 percent shooting from 3-point…OSU also welcomes a Top 25 recruiting class this season…the Cowboys, who are making their Progressive Legends Classic debut, have won two national championships and have been to the NCAA Tournament 28 times, which includes six Final Fours.
Pittsburgh (Head Coach: Kevin Stallings, Atlantic Coast Conference) – Kevin Stallings is in his second season at Pitt after guiding the Panthers to 16 wins a year ago…this season, he turns to forward Ryan Luther and a host of talented newcomers, led by graduate transfer Monty Boykins, Rivals top 100 point guard Marcus Carr, and junior college standout Jared Wilson-Frame…Pittsburgh has been to 26 NCAA Tournaments, including one trip to the Final Four…the Panthers have played in two previous Legends Classics (2008, 2013), winning both with a perfect 8-0 record.
Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M (Head Coach: Billy Kennedy, Southeastern Conference) – Head coach Billy Kennedy, with 326 career victories to his credit, is in his seventh season at Texas A&M…nine of A&M’s 15 players are underclassmen, including four starters, highlighted by guard Admon Gilder, center Tyler Davis, and forward Robert Williams, a projected first round NBA Draft pick who opted to return for his sophomore season…with Davis and Williams earning second-team All-SEC honors, A&M is the only SEC team returning multiple all-league players…the Aggies have been to 13 NCAA Tournaments and are making their first Progressive Legends Classic appearance.
Pepperdine (Head Coach: Marty Wilson, West Coast Conference) – In six seasons at Pepperdine, head coach Marty Wilson has rebuilt the Waves, amassing 82 wins after inheriting a team coming off six-straight losing seasons…this year’s team sees the return of Amadi Udenyi and Kameron Edwards, a pair of starters who missed all or most of the 2016-17 season, while adding transfers Eric Cooper Jr. (Nevada) and Matthew Atewe (Washington) to a young core of players who gained valuable experience as freshmen this past year…Pepperdine is making its Progressive Legends Classic debut and has been to 13 NCAA Tournaments.
Montana (Head Coach: Travis DeCuire, Big Sky Conference) – Montana alum Travis DeCuire has done something no coach in school history has done – lead the Griz to back-to-back 20-win seasons in his first two years at the helm of the program…this past year, his third, Montana won 16 games with a roster that featured 10 underclassmen and only two seniors that saw regular starting time…the Griz are led by the junior backcourt of Ahmaad Rorie and Michael Oguine as well as 6-7 wing Donaven Dorsey…Montana has been to 10 NCAA Tournaments…this is the Griz’ first appearance in the Progressive Legends Classic.
Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
Oral Roberts (Head Coach: Paul Mills, Summit League) – Paul Mills takes over the Golden Eagles’ program after spending 14 seasons at Baylor, including the last eight as an assistant coach…in the eight-year span, Baylor posted 198 wins and went to six NCAA Tournaments, including this past season’s Sweet 16…11 of 15 players, three of whom are starters, return this coming season, including leading scorer center Albert Owens and Summit League Freshman of the Year Emmanuel Nzeksesi.…Oral Roberts, which has been to the NCAA Tournament five times, is making its first Legends Classic appearance.
UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos
UC-Santa Barbara (Head Coach: Joe Pasternack, Big West Conference) – After spending the last seven seasons at Arizona, Joe Pasternack takes over at USCB…prior to his tenure at Arizona, he was the head coach for four seasons at New Orleans before that program downgraded to Division II…this season, UCSB features a roster returns 15 players in 2017-18…four starters are back, including leading scorers guard Gabe Vincent and forward Jalen Canty…the Gauchos have been to six NCAA Tournaments…this is their first Progressive Legends Classic appearance.
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.