Big South deep dive for the 2020-21 season

1. UNC Asheville Bulldogs
Lineup
PG: DeVon Baker
SG: Taijon Jones
SF: L.J. Thorpe
PF: Coty Jude
C: Evan Claybourne (NC Central)

Bench: Silas Mason, B.J. Marable, Lavar Batts, Trent Stephney, Jamon Battle, Raquon Brown (New Orleans)

Additions: Evan Claybourne (NC Central), Silas Mason, Raquon Brown (New Orleans)

Departures: Jeremy Peck

It’s been a rough past few years for UNC-Asheville, but things are changing. One of the few teams in CBB returning five double-digit scorers (Baker, Jude, Jones, Thorpe, Batts.) Last season Devon Baker had 16.5 PPG while shooting 45% from-the-field, 34% from-distance. If Baker continues this upwards trajectory he has a legitimate chance to be the Big South POTY. L.J. Thorpe was the 2nd leading scorer this past season. Thorpe had 13.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG while being an efficient scorer. One of the more important pieces is Taijon Jones. For the Bulldogs last season, Jones proved to be the best 3pt shooter for Mike Morrell’s squad. Jones showed off 13.7 PPG and can be even better this year. Coty Jude is a 6’9 forward who’s the best asset is how top-tier shooting ability. Jude is a below-average rebounder but won’t have the pressure to be a big rebounder this season with all the size that was-added this off-season. The size the newcomers possess (Mason, Marable, Claybourne) will play big roles to get rebounds. Silas Mason is an intriguing prospect, the number one recruit in team history, and he’s a 6’7 top-notch athlete. He didn’t shoot it much in his HS days, so it’s unknown what he provides there. Mason can play 2-4 but will likely be more of a forward for this team. Claybourne is on his third school, starting at Cleveland State before leaving for NC Central, now is headed to the Big South for UNC Asheville. B.J. Marable is a 6’9 forward who can grab rebounds which is much needed for a team that struggled on defense and with rebounding last season. I think the Bulldogs top-to-bottom can win this conference if the defense improves. Mike Morrell had a tough task rebuilding this program and has done just that.

2. Winthrop Eagles
Lineup
PG: Chandler Vaudrin
SG: Russell Jones
SF: Michael Anumba
PF: Chase Claxton
C: D.J. Burns

Bench: Charles Faiden, Jamal King, Jason Corbin, Adonis Arms, Kyle Zunc, Kelton Talford, Toneari Lane, Thomas Pupavac

Additions: Kelton Talford, Toneari Lane

Departures: Hunter Hale, Josh Ferguson

Pat Kelsey has had quite the 8-year-run at Winthrop since he was hired when Gregg Marshall left for Wichita State. The Eagles are losing the top-scorer from last season’s Big South winning team with Hunter Hale. The two most valuable players do return, Chandler Vaudrin and D.J. Burns. The 6’7 Vaudrin is a point-guard who makes some unbelievable passes and shot 34% from-distance. The main issue in Vaudrin’s game is that he’s a horrible free-throw shooter, shooting just 74-148, which equates to a 50% clip. Vaudrin is a star in the Big South for the foreseeable future. D.J. Burns spent one season at Tennessee where he redshirted and never suited up, then transferred to Winthrop. Burns had 11.9 PPG last season but struggles to stay consistent on defense at times. Burns is a guy who could average close to 15-a-game but his defense improving would be a big plus. Michael Anumba was possibly the biggest unsung hero from last season’s team. Anumba shot 42% from three, 54% overall. Another player that can take that next step is sophomore forward, Chase Claxton. If Claxton can step into Josh Ferguson’s and show similar production that’s massive. Winthrop could win the conference but can minimize the departures of Hale and Ferguson.

3. USC Upstate
Lineup
PG: Tommy Bruner
SG: Everette Hammond
SF: Bryson Mozone
PF: Brandon Martin
C: Nevin Zink

Bench: Khalid Moore (Clemson), Quentin Hodge, Carter Jernigan, Mysta Goodloe, Dalvin White, Khydarius Smith, Jatayveous Watson

Additions: Khalid Moore (Clemson), Quentin Hodge

Departures: None

USC Upstate was dreadful last season, ranking just 325th in KenPom. Tommy Bruner was the star of the Spartans last season with 14 PPG though his shooting percentages left something to be desired. In Everette Hammond’s sophomore season he took a huge step back in terms of shooting, going from 39% from deep to just 29%. That’s not something you like to see, and hopefully, he reverts to the previous form. For a team that shot 32% from three last season, Bryson Mozone adds a lot to the team. Mozone lead the Spartans by shooting 39% from three last season. Khavon Moore, the former top-50 recruit has had an intriguing career thus far. Moore committed to Texas Tech out of HS and played just one game in his first season, then opted to transferred. This season Moore played 29 games for the Tigers, starting four of those games. Moore didn’t produce at all then decided to leave again this time dropping down quite a bit to the Big South. Moore has untapped potential and may have finally found the correct spot. USC Upstate is underrated and could compete.

4. Charleston Southern Buccaneers
Lineup
PG: Deontaye Buskey
SG: Travis Anderson
SF: Phlandrous Fleming Jr
PF: Ty Jones
C: Sadarius Brewer

Bench: Duncan LeXander, Terence Porter Jr, Melvin Edwards Jr, Ja’Quavian Florence, Jamir Moore, Malik Battle, Emorie Knox

Additions: Melvin Edwards Jr, Ja’Quavian Florence, Malik Battle, Emorie Knox

Departures: Dontrell Shuler (Middle Tennessee State), Nate Louis

Barclay Radebaugh has a very talented squad on his hands this season. Led by star G/Forward Phlandrous Fleming Jr, who can score at the basket at a good rate, but his shooting from deep is concerning. Fleming had 17.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG this past season, showing he can do-it-all. Deontay Buskey is another player who averaged in double-figures last season and will asked to be more with Dontrell Shuler’s departure from the program. The 3PT shooting was a massive issue for the Buccaneers last season. The one guy who makes that difference is Travis Anderson, shot 38% from three last season. Ty Jones is another key-cog for this Charleston Southern team. Jones had 10.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG while shooting 54% from-the-field. In Barclay Radebuagh’s 14 seasons the Buccaneers haven’t made the Big Dance, and he looks to change that this season.

5. Gardner Webb Bulldogs
Lineup
PG: Jaheam Cornwall
SG: Jacob Falko
SF: Jamaine Mann
PF: Kareem Reid
C: Christian Alexander

Bench: Mick Lynott, Lance Terry, Jordan Sears, D’Maurian Williams, Tyrone Simos-Primerano, Anthony Selden, Sammy Itodo

Additions: Jamaine Mann, Mick Lynott, Lance Terry, Jordan Sears, D’Maurian Williams, Tyrone Simos-Primerano, Anthony Selden, Sammy Itodo

Departures: Jose Perez (Marquette), Eric Jamison, Nate Johnson (Xavier), Christian Turner

Gardner-Webb has lost a lot the past few seasons. After making the tournament two seasons ago David Effiyanni graduated, now this season losing the two starting guard’s Jose Perez and Nate Johnson to Big East programs, and Eric Jamison graduating. Having to change the guard that frequently is tough for a Mid-Major team. There still is a fair amount of talent with Jaheam Cornwall for his senior season after scoring 13.1 PPG while shooting an eye-popping 44% from distance. Adding two players who were very good at lower-level JUCOs in Jacob Falko and Christian Alexander. For Falko, he had 23.7 PPG with an astoundingly high 62% from-the-field, 43% from three. If he can bring some of that luster to Gardner-Webb things could look different. Christian Alexander had 13.7 PPG, 9.6 RPG at his JUCO this season as an old-school forward. Kareem Reid is a high-ceiling player, he’s the #1 recruit in program history, and as a freshman, he had 6.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, but there’s tons of growth. There are many freshmen incoming this season, headlined by Jamaine Mann. Gardner-Webb could surprise people this season.

6. Longwood Lancers
Lineup
PG: Juan Munoz
SG: DeShaun Wade
SF: Jermaine Drewey
PF: Jesper Granlund
C: Leslie Nkereuwem

Bench: Heru Bilgen Justin Hill, Christian Wilson, Nate Lliteras, Zac Watson

Additions: Justin Hill, Jesper Granlund

Departures: Shabooty Phillips, Jordan Cintron (Niagara), JaShaun Smith

After being UMBC’s director of recruiting and bringing in much of the talent for the Retrievers on the team that pulled off the greatest upset in NCAA history, Longwood hired Griff Aldrich in 2018. In Aldrich’s two seasons, they’ve won 16 games and 14 games respectively. Juan Munoz is a very talented guard, shooting 35% from-distance last season, and will have to make a big jump for the Lancers to make a run this season. The other starting guard DeShaun Wade will be another player that could make a jump. Starting his career for East Carolina before transferring to Longwood, where he had 9 PPG last season with 34% from-three. With Shabooty Phillips gone, A lot will be asked of Wade. Jermaine Drewey, who spent last season at Panola CC, had 13.1 PPG last season and is a likely starter for this Longwood team. Leslie Nkereuwem is one of the top breakout candidates in the Big South. The sophomore forward proved to be an uber-efficient big-man last season, with above-average defense. Justin Hill and Jesper Granlund are two freshmen that can play massive roles for this Lancers team. While It’s a different grouping, Coach Aldrich has a talented team on his hands.

7. High Point Panthers
Lineup
PG: John Michael-Wright
SG: Denny Slay
SF: Rob Peterson III
PF: Eric Coleman Jr
C: Caden Sanchez

Bench: Emmanuel Izunabor, Bryant Randleman, Bryson Childress, Jaden House, Ahmil Flowers, Zackary Austin, Lydell Elmore, Alex Holt

Additions: Jaden House, Ahmil Flowers, Zackary Austin, Lydell Elmore, Alex Holt

Departures: Jamal Wright, Cliff Thomas

Tubby Smith in year three of coaching his Alma-Mater is hoping this is the one where he turns it around. Tubby Smith does have a star with the sophomore guard, John Michael-Wright. As a freshman, Michael-Wright had 14.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.3 APG while shooting 39% from-the-field, 33% from three, though he did shoot 75% from-the-line. When you have someone who showed that level of production as a freshman you know you have something special. Denny Slay who’s now a senior has shown the ability to be a solid shooter at a 36% clip last year. Caden Sanchez is one of the few very-efficient players for the Panthers, shooting 54% from-the-field as a big-man. The defense is the biggest bugaboo for Tubby Smith’s team ranking 338th in KenPom out of 353 last season. If this team lives up to this ranking, they’ll have to improve.

8. Campbell Camels
Lineup
PG: Jordan Whitfield
SG: Austin McCollugh
SF: Cedric Henderson Jr
PF: Jesus Carralero
C: Milos Stajcic

Bench: Dray Burton, Ricky Clemons, Messiah Thompson, P.J. Carter, Joshua Lusane, Laurynas Vaistaras

Additions: Dray Burton

Departures: Ja’Cor Nelson LaDarius Knight, Cory Gensler, Trey Spencer

In year one of the post-Chris Clemons era for the Camels, they won just 15 games and placed 256th in KenPom. Cedric Henderson is a player poised to be the next star for Campbell. Henderson as a freshman had an insane stat-line of 12.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG but the craziest part is he shot 57% from-the-field while shooting 45% from three. That level of efficiency isn’t something you see often making Henderson ultra-valuable. Senior guard Jordan Whitfield is also a tremendous shooter sporting a 41% last season. Stajcic is a player who started many games last season but just played 13 MPG. Stajcic is a 6’10 big with high-potential, shooting ability a real modern-day player. The Camels could win some games on the back of Henderson, but they won’t contend.

9. Hampton Pirates
Lineup
PG: Deuce Dean
SG: Chris Shelton
SF: Davion Warren
PF: Ed Oliver-Hampton
C: Dajour Dickens (Providence)

Bench: Saheem Anthony, Najee Thomas, Raymond Bethea Jr (Howard), Danny Bannister, Amir Nesbitt

Additions: Dajour Dickens (Providence), Amir Nesbitt, Raymond Bethea Jr (Howard)

Departures: Ben Stanley (Xavier), Jermaine Marrow, Greg Heckstall, Dondre Griffin

The Pirates were 10 minutes away from notching the Big South championship after leading on Winthrop early. They ended up losing that game after a tremendous run in the Big South tournament. Hampton had two of the leading scorers in the country last season with Jermaine Marrow, who’s now graduated, and Ben Stanley who left for Xavier. Losing two players of that talent-level is tough to replace at any point especially the season directly after. Davion Warren will likely be the star for this Pirates squad who had 10.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG while shooting 48%, and 37% from three. Warren is a tremendous talent and needs to take the brunt of the work this season. Ed Oliver-Hampton will be looked at as a guy to replace the production of Ben Stanley. Dajour Dickens has had a weird career, starting at Providence, before heading to Old Dominion and now Hampton. Dickens has shown to be a tremendous defender throughout his career but doesn’t offer much on offense. It’ll be a rebuilding season for the Pirates.

10. Radford Highlanders
Lineup:
PG: Bryan Hart
SG: Dante Moses
SF: Chyree Walker
PF: Lewis Djonkam
C: Jamal Burke

Bench: Quinton Morton-Robinson, Xavier Lipscomb, Fah’mir Ali, Keishon Porter, Joshua Walker, Dravon Magnum

Additions: Xavier Lipscomb, Fah’mir Ali, Keishon Porter, Joshua Walker

Departures: Carlik Jones, Devine Eke, Leroy Butts, Travis Fields, Devonnte Holland, Donald Hicks, Devin Hutcherson

You can’t tell the story of Radford this season without explaining how massive a loss Carlik Jones is. The son of coach Mike Jones opted to transfer to Louisville after averaging 20-5-5 and notching Big South POTY. It’s virtually impossible to replace Jones. He’s not the only piece they lose. The Highlanders lose every other starter from last season’s team. Travis Fields is probably the 2nd biggest loss due to his shooting ability at 41% last year. Lewis Djonkam is the leading returning scorer at just 2.8 PTS last season. There’s simply not a ton that’s known about this team with how little of CBB experience much of this roster has.

11. Presybyterian Blue Hose
Lineup
PG: Trevon Reddish (Charleston)
SG: Zeb Graham Jr
SF: Brandon Younger (Charlotte)
PF: Winston Hill
C: Will Ferguson

Bench: Giancarlo Sanchez, Rayshon Harrison, Ambaka Le Gregam, Kobe Stewart, Kirshon Thrash, Todd Isler

Additions: Trevon Reddish (Charleston), Brandon Younger (Charlotte), Todd Isler

Departures: Cory Hightower (Western Carolina), Chris Martin, Ben Drake

There look to be waiver decisions still to be made for Reddish, Younger, but I assume based on how waivers have passed that these will follow suit. Neither of those two played much at-all this past season, so it’s difficult to project how they’ll play. There’s talent there especially dropping down to the Big South. Those two will have to carry the team because things look rough for the Blue Hose.

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