Missouri Valley Conference deep dive for the 2020-21 season

1.Northern Iowa Panthers
Lineup
PG: A.J. Green
SG: Trae Berhow
SF: Tywhon Pickford
PF: Noah Carter
C: Austin Phyfe

Bench: Antwan Kimmons, Bowen Born, James Betz, Nate Heise, Tylan Anderson, Cole Henry

Additions: Bowen Born

Departures: Justin Dahl, Spencer Haldeman, Isaiah Brown

In 2019-20 Northern Iowa was one of the most aesthetically pleasing teams to watch with how the offense ran. Shooting, post-play, it was all on the floor. Led by star guard A.J. Green, who showed to be one of the top pure-shooters in the entire country. Green shot 39% from three and 91% from-the-line. The former top-100 prospect who opted to stay local and head to UNI looks to bring some luster that’s not been at the program since Ali Faroukmanesh hit the three against Kansas. The craziest thing about this Panthers team is that Green isn’t even the best shooter. Senior guard Trae Berhow shot an astonishingly high 44% from-distance 157 attempts. The biggest X-Factor for Ben Jacobsen’s squad is sophomore forward Noah Carter. In just 8.3 MPG, Carter showed-off immense potential. Carter shot 40% from three on 49 attempts along with being a solid defender down-low. If they can get a true forward like Carter to play alongside the next guy I’ll mention that is massive. The other big? Austin Phyfe, why’s he significant? He only trailed Kansas’s Udoka Azubuike in terms of FG% last season. Ben Jacobsen is building something special, and the Panthers can be this season’s Cinderella.

2.Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
Lineup
PG: Keith Clemons
SG: Lucas Williamson
SF: Tate Hall
PF: Aher Uguak
C: Cameron Krutwig

Bench: Marquise Kennedy, Paxson Wojcik, Baylor Hebb, Cooper Kaifes, Braden Norris, Franklin Agunanne

Additions: Baylor Hebb

Departures: Bruno Skokna

Being just two seasons removed from the magical final-four run that’ll live in the memories of all College Hoops fans for eternity. I mean, how can you forget it? The Donte Ingram 30-footer at the buzzer, Clayton Custer game-winning off-balanced shot, Marques Townes corner-three to put Nevada away, it was just a run of destiny. Many seem to have thought that Porter Moser’s team has fallen off-the-map since then, but that’s not entirely true. While they haven’t made the tournament the past two seasons they’ve won 20+ games each of the last two seasons. Porter Moser has brought a continually winning program. Now talking about this season, Cam Krutwig is back once again. Krutwig has been fantastic for the Ramblers 2019-20, being the best of which where he put up 15.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 4.2 APG. All that for a guy who’s a 6’9 big-man who plays good defense. His innate ability to score with his strength and finesse at the rim is special. His ability to pass out of double-teams, The potential MVC Player of the year. The Ramblers were fantastic from three last season also, led by Keith Clemons, Tate Hall, who both shot over 40% from three last season. The Ramblers look to notch a tournament bid for the first time since their historic 2017-18 tournament run.

3.Bradley Braves
Lineup
PG: Sean East II (UMass)
SG: Danya Kingsby
SF: Elijah Childs
PF: Ja’Shon Henry
C: Ari Boya

Bench: Kevin McAdoo, Terry Nolan II (George Washington), Ville Tahvanainen, Antonio Thomas, Jason Kent, Rienk Mast, Darius Hannah, Connor Linke

Additions: Sean East II (UMass), Terry Nolan II (George Washington), Jason Kent, Rienk Mast, Connor Linke, Darius Hannah

Departures: Koch Bar, Nate Kennell, Darrell Brown

The Bradley Braves how won two consecutive Arch Madness championships in 2018-19 they lost to Michigan State. Adding a guard with the talent of Sean East II is important for a player who exhibited that he could be a high-level scorer one day. Danya Kingsby, who started his college career out at a JUCO, then decided to head to LSU, where he never suited up, and moved on again this time to Bradley. Kingsby, in his lone season for the Braves, shot 36% from-long-range, adding an integral piece to the team. Kingsby will be asked to do more this season with Nate Kennell graduating. Elijah Childs is the center-piece of this Braves team once again. Childs is a strong-forward who scores at-the-basket with ease but isn’t much of a shooter at just 21% from three. Childs is another candidate for conference POTY. Ari Boya is another player that will have the chance to step-up with Koch Bar, who started every game last-season having graduated they’ll need a natural center in the fold. Boya is 7’1 and proven to be a good defender, but there’s much to be seen. On a team that doesn’t have a ton in terms of shooting ability, that makes Ville Tahvanainen even more important. The Finland native shot 39% from three in 2019-20, and much of Bradley’s success could be dependent on how Tahvanainen plays this season. Brian Wardle has done a fantastic job turning this program around from his first season where the Braves won just five games, now have won Arch Madness the past two seasons.

4.Indiana State Sycamores
Lineup
PG: Tyreke Key
SG: Randy Miller Jr (NC Central)
SF: Cobie Barnes
PF: Jacob Laravia
C: Treauhn Williams

Bench: Tobias Howard (Towson), Cooper Neese, Kailax Stephens, Jared Hankins, Nick Hittle

Additions: Tobias Howard (Towson),

Departures: Christian Williams, Jordan Barnes

The Sycamores lose Jordan Barnes this season, who proved to be one of the top shooters in the MVC but still return a plethora of talent. One of the best pure scorers in the conference returns in-the-form of Tyreke Key, who posted 15.4 PPG in 2019-20 for the Sycamores. Key has a chance to be the MVC player of the year and has a legitimate chance to lead the conference in scoring. The 2019-20 MVC freshman of the year, Jake Laravia, looks to become a household name this season for the Sycamores. Laravia is 6’8 and shot 52% from the field, and even though it’s a super small sample size he made 11 out of 27 three’s last season. A key transfer coming is Randy Miller Jr, a guy who spent two seasons at NC Central in the MEAC. Miller will prove to be a key player due to his high-level shooting, being able to shoot close to 40% from three each of the last two seasons. Tre Williams showed flashes of stardom as a true freshman, posting 7 PPG, 4 RPG as a back to the basket big-man. The Sycamores have tons of upside and can be good this season. The Sycamores should be in for a good season.

5.Southern Illinois Salukis
Lineup
PG: Lance Jones
SG: Jakolby Long (Southern Utah)
SF: Ben Harvey
PF: Marcus Domask
C: Anthony D’Vanazo

Bench: Kyler Filewich, JD Mulla, Sekou Dembele, Dalton Butler, Eric Banks

Additions: Jakolby Lonh, Kyler Filewich

Departures: Eric McGill, Barrett Benson

The Salukis have an intriguing roster for this season. SIU loses two of three top scorers with Eric McGill and Barrett Benson, but return Marcus Domask. Bryan Mullins team being led By Domask is a positive, Domask had 13 PPG as a freshman, while shooting 46% overall, and 39% from three. Domask is an adequate defender but an elite scorer and could be a potential player of the year candidate in the MVC in the future. Adding two key transfers in Jakolby Long from SUU and Ben Harvey from EIU. Starting off with Long, he spent two seasons at Iowa State before transferring to SUU for one season. Long is a talented scorer at-the-rim but is a subpar shooter. Harvey is a fantastic shooter that posted a 38.9% three-point percentage in his lone season for Eastern Illinois. Harvey should be a massive contributor to SIU. Bryan Mullins squad could surprise folks due if the transfers can play a big role.

6.Drake Bulldogs
Lineup
PG: Roman Penn
SG: Noah Thomas
SF: D.J. Wilkins
PF: Tremell Murphy
C: Darnell Brodie (Seton Hall)

Bench: Shanquan Hemphill (UW Green Bay), Jonah Jackson, Joe Yesufu, Bryceson Burns, Jordan Kwiecinski, Okay Djamgouz, Issa Samake, Noah Ferguson, Garrett Strutz

Additions: Darnell Brodie (Seton Hall), Shanquan Hemphill (UW Green Bay), Bryceson Burns, Jordan Kwiecinski, Okay Djamgouz, Issa Samake, Noah Ferguson

Departures: Anthony Murphy, Liam Robbins (Minnesota)

Darian DeVries tries to keep the positive momentum rolling in Des Moines this season for the Bulldogs. Losing two key contributors from 2019-20 in Liam Robbins, who transferred to Minnesota, and Anthony Murphy, who’s now graduated. Even with those losses, there’s plenty of talent that’ll return in 2020-21. Led by Roman Penn, a player who put a super sneakily tremendous season with gaudy numbers of 12.9/4.7/5.6 while 49% from the field, 40% from-three. Penn is one of the top players in the MVC undoubtedly and will look to be a player of the year candidate in the conference. Coach DeVries, adding transfer to supplement the loss of Liam Robbins, in the form of Darnell Brodie and Shanquan Hemphill. With Brodie, you have a player that spent two seasons playing sparingly for Kevin Willard but was likely a level too-high with that being said he should be a major piece for the Bulldogs. Hemphill missed all but one game with an injury and opted to transfer after the coaching change. Hemphill in his first season for UWGB Hemphill posted 11.9 PPG along with hauling in 5.6 RPG. Tremell Murphy was one of the key cogs for the Bulldogs in 2018-19 but only played 5 games this past season with an injury. Murphy had 10 PPG as a freshman while shooting 50% from the field. The other guard alongside Penn will be Noah Thomas, a quick player who is an above-average deep-range shooter. Darian DeVries looks to continue the upward trend in Des Moines this season.

7.Missouri State Bears
Lineup
PG: Demarcus Sharpe
SG: Isiah Mosley
SF: Keaton Hervey
PF: Gaige Prim
C: Dawson Carper (Hawaii)

Bench: Darian Scott, Nic Tata, Jared Ridder, Ja’Monta Black, Lu’Cye Patterson, Skylar Wicks, Raphe Ayers, Melvyn Ebonkoli

Additions: Dawson Carper (Hawaii), Demarcus Sharpe, Keaton Hervey, Lu’Cye Patterson, Skylar Wicks, Raphe Ayers, Melvyn Ebonkoli

Departures: Keandre Cook, Tulio Da Silva, Lamont West, Josh Hal (Cal State Fullerton)

After what was a subpar season for the Bears, they now lose the top three players from that team, in Cook, Da Silva, West. There’s a ton of questions surrounding the Bears with the departures, but they do add some talent with JUCO products. Sharpe being the most significant named addition and posted stats of 16.5 PPG and shot 44% from three. That kind of production will be exactly what the doctor ordered for Dana Ford this season. Another former JUCO product that debuted for the Missouri State last season is Gaige Prim. The leading returning scorer is what Prim is, posting 13 PPG as a 6’8 back to the basket big-man. The lone D1 transfer coming in is a 7-footer from Hawaii, Dawson Carper. For the Rainbow Warriors in 2019-20, Carper had 6 PPG along with 3.9 RPG. There’s a lot to like on this team, but I’d like to see the talent come to fruition before I will fully buy-in.

8.Illinois State Redbirds
Lineup
PG: D.J. Horne
SG: Josiah Strong
SF: Dedric Boyd
PF: Antonio Reeves
C: Keith Fisher III

Bench: Abdou Ndiaye, Dusan Mahorcic, Sy Chatman (UMass), Emon Washington, Howard Fleming Jr, Harouna Sissoko, Alex Kotov, Alston Andrews

Additions: Josiah Strong, Sy Chatman (UMass), Alex Kotov, Alston Andrews

Departures: Zach Copeland, Ricky Torres, Jaycee Hilsman, Matt Chastain

Dan Muller and the Redbirds are coming off a disastrous 10-win season, and now lose their best player in Zach Copeland. The next star guard with Copeland gone will be sophomore D.J. Horne. As a freshman, Horne had 7.2 PPG but shot 40% from three on 115 attempts, which shows the good he will be as he picks up a more significant role. Josiah Strong is a big JUCO addition after posting 17.8 PPG and shot 48% from the field for Iowa Western CC in 2019-20. Sy Chatman coming after two-seasons playing for UMass will be a big player for coach Muller. Chatman is a fantastic athlete that can shoot at his 6’8 frame. Keith Fisher III is the leading returning scorer after posting 9.4 PPG last season. Fisher will continue to man-the-paint and get his production that way. Abdou Ndiaye is poised for a breakout player and could be the conference defensive player of the year due to his athleticism and long-frame. The Redbirds should have somewhat of a rebounding season.

9.Valparaiso Crusaders
Lineup
PG: Daniel Sackey
SG: Eron Gordon
SF: Nick Robinson
PF: Donovan Clay
C: Mileek McMillan

Bench: Zion Morgan, Connor Barrett, Sheldon Edwards Jr, Siguard Lorange, Benjamin Krikke, Emil Freese-Villen, Jacob Ognacevic, Goodnews Kpegeol

Additions: Connor Barrett, Sheldon Edwards Jr, Jacob Ognacevic

Departures: Javon Freeman-Liberty (DePaul), Ryan Fazekas, John Kiser

The Crusaders are coming off somewhat of a surprising season after winning 19 games and advancing to the MVC championship game before meeting up with Bradley. Now coming into this season they lose leading scorer in Javon Freeman-Liberty, who transferred to DePaul. Returning three key contributors in Daniel Sackey, Daniel Clay, Eron Gordon. Those three will be big-time contributors but the star of the team should be Mileek McMillan. Last season McMillan had 8.8 PPG but is uber-efficient and will look to expand upon that in his final season for Valpo. Goodnews Kpegeol is a former power-five player at Kansas State, though he never suited up. Kpegeol could be a sneaky commodity for Valpo. Matt Lottich has a bit of a retooling on his hands

10.Evansville Purple Aces
Lineup
PG: Emmente Page
SG: Samari Curtis (Nebraska)
SF: Noah Frederking
PF: Evan Kuhlman
C: Peace Ilegomah

Bench: Jawaun Newton, Jax Levitch, Thomsai Gilgeous-Alexander, Shamar Givance, Trey Hall, Alex Matthews

Additions: Emmente Page, Samari Curtis (Nebraska), Trey Hall, Alex Matthews

Departures: DeAndre Williams (Memphis), Sam Cunliffe, KJ Riley, Artur Labinowicz, Josh Hall

What a tumultuous past year for the Purples Aces. After pulling off one of the biggest upsets in CBB history beating Kentucky in Rupp Arena. The Purple Aces didn’t win a single conference game, and during the season Coach Walter McCarty was suspended while investigating a Sexual Misconduct allegation, and he later was fired for that offense. Evansville now also loses four of the top players on the team. They do add Nebraska transfer Samari Curtis, who will likely be the leading scorer this season. Thomasi Gilegous-Alexander, the brother of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, looks to play a bigger role this season for Evansville. The Purple Aces are far-and-away the worst team in the MVC.

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