Player of the Year: Justin Sears, Yale
Coach of the Year: Mitch Henderson, Princeton
Rookie of the Year: Tommy McCarthy, Harvard
All-Conference 1st Team
C/F Justin Sears, Yale
F Hans Brase, Princeton
G/F Alex Rosenberg, Columbia
G Spencer Weisz, Princeton
G Maodo Lo, Columbia
All-Conference 2nd Team
C/F Cedric Kuakamensah, Brown
F Brandon Sherrod, Yale
G/F Spencer Cook, Princeton
G Tony Hicks, Penn
G Corbin Miller, Harvard
All-Conference 3rd Team
C/F Darien Nelson-Henry, Penn
F Connor Boehm, Dartmouth
G/F Kyle Castlin, Columbia
G Tavon Blackmon, Brown
G Jack Montague, Yale
C/F Evan Boudreaux, Dartmouth
F Stone Gettings, Cornell
G/F Devin Cannady, Princeton
G Alex Copeland, Yale
G Tommy McCarthy, Harvard
Key Losses: Clay Wilson, Ben Hazel
Key Returners: Spencer Weisz, Hans Brase, Steven Cook
Key Newcomers: Devin Cannady, Myles Stephens, Noah Bramlage
C Pete Miller, Jr.; (5.8/2.5/1.2/0.5/1.2)
F Hans Brase, Sr.; (11.5/7.5/2.1/0.6/0.5)
F Steven Cook, Jr.; (10.4/3.4/1.5/1.6/0.3)
G/F Spencer Weisz, Jr.; (11.6/4.9/2.6/1.1/0.3)
G Amir Bell, So.; (8.8/3.0/2.6/0.5/0.4)
Reserves: Devin Cannady, Myles Stephens, Noah Bramlage, Henry Caruso, Alec Brennan
Postseason Prediction: 13 Seed (Auto-bid)
The Princeton Tigers come off a relatively disappointing year in which they saw themselves on the wrong side of decisions against teams including Fairleigh Dickinson, George Mason, and Incarnate Word. Not only that, but despite finishing 3rd in the Ivy, the Tigers failed to beat either of their rivals, Yale and Harvard, losing two games apiece to both schools. The positive side is all the players can brag how they went to Princeton while landing awesome jobs and fine looking honeys, so chin up Princeton squad of 2014-15, chin up.
Education, jobs, and honeys aside, Princeton brings back a fine looking basketball team ready to take the Ivy League by storm in 2015-16. With the injury suffered by Siyani Chambers, Harvard’s best returning player, the conference is ripe for the Tigers’ picking. Princeton loses only two contributors from last year’s squad, Clay Wilson and Ben Hazel, and neither was a cornerstone player by any means. The Tigers return a three-headed monster in Spencer Weisz, Hans Brase, and Steven Cook, all three of which averaged double-digits in 2014-15. Weisz, a 6’4’’ junior guard, will be the catalyst for the Tiger offense this season and is an Ivy League POY candidate. The guard was dynamite shooting the basketball last season shooting 53% from two, 40.2% from three, and 80.5% from the charity stripe. Weisz is comfortable as a secondary ball handler, but like most returning Tigers, he must work to limit his turnovers in 2015-16. Brase, a 6’8’’ senior forward, is the Tigers’ only returning rebounder, posting the 32nd best DR% in the nation last season (24.9%). Princeton’s biggest weakness last season was their offensive rebounding, a category that they got absolutely murdered in by opposing teams. Given their affinity for launching the long ball, it’s not hard to see why the team struggled getting second chances – everyone (including Brase) hung out on the perimeter like a shy pubescent teen at a school dance. Greater focus on crashing the boards will go a long way in helping the Tigers return to the postseason.
Cook, the third member of the three-headed monster, is a gifted shooter and Princeton’s best perimeter defender. He shot a cool 39.3% from downtown while getting to the line at an excellent rate where he finished at a respectable 74.7% clip.
Supporting the trio in the starting five will be big man Pete Miller and point guard Amir Bell. Miller is a 6’10’’ 225 pound (skinny) center who finishes nicely around the basket (53.8%), but is atrocious from the free-throw line (42.4%). At 6’10” you would expect Miller to be a fairly decent rebounder, but you’d be mistaken! The center averaged 2.5 rebounds per game in 18.6 minutes – not great guys, not great. Bell is a steady point guard with a low assist rate who gets to the line better than anyone on the team. Look for Bell to make a leap in production this season in his second year wearing the orange and black.
Three freshmen look to make a splash this season for the Tigers, 6’0’’ point guard Devin Cannady, 6’3’’ off-guard Myles Stephens, and 6’7’’ forward Noah Bramlage. Look for Cannady to receive a lot of playing time spelling Bell; he is a true point guard and has a promising career ahead of him at Princeton. Stephens will be a nice change of pace for the three-happy Tiger offense given his slashing ability and athleticism. Bramlage will help bolster the frontcourt reserve unit alongside sophomore Alec Brennan. Henry Caruso, a rising junior wing, should see a fair share of action this season as well.
With the loss of talent Yale and Harvard suffer this season, the Ivy League is Princeton’s to lose, though the journey will not be an easy one. Expect the Tigers to be in contention for the top spot all season and avenge their 0-4 record from last season against the top dogs.
Key Losses: Javier Duren, Matt Townsend, Armani Cotton
Key Returners: Justin Sears, Jack Montague, Brandon Sherrod
Key Newcomers: Alex Copeland, Matt Greene, Eli Lininger, Trey Phills, Blake Reynolds
F Justin Sears, Sr.; (14.3/7.5/1.5/1.1/2.4)
F Brandon Sherrod, Sr.; (2013-14) (6.8/4.3/1.1/0.4/0.8)
G/F Anthony Dallier, Jr.; (2.3/1.8/1.0/0.2/0.1)
G Makai Mason, So.; (6.2/2.2/1.6/0.6/0.1)
G Jack Montague, Sr.; (8.3/1.9/2.0/1.0/0.0)
Reserves: Sam Downey, Khaliq Ghani, Alex Copeland, Matt Greene, Eli Lininger, Trey Phills
Postseason Prediction: NIT
James Jones has coached the Yale Bulldogs basketball team for 16 seasons. In those 16 years, Jones has amassed a record of 231-232, has made an NIT, and two CITs. Not many coaches stick around 16 seasons while achieving literal mediocrity, then again not many coaches coach one of the finest educational programs in the country. Last season was Yale’s best season under Jones; the Dogs went 22-10 and tied Harvard for the best record in the conference only to lose to the Crimson in the final playoff game to decide who would represent the Ivy in the Dance. Yale hasn’t made the tournament since 1962; with the return of some key players, that drought could come to an end in 2015-16.
The Bulldogs lose three major pieces from its 22-win team a season ago – point guard Javier Duren, and forwards Matt Townsend and Armani Cotton. Despite the key losses, Yale is in pretty good shape returning their best player, Justin Sears, guard Jack Montague, and forward Brandon Sherrod, who sat out the 2014-15 season.
Sears is a monster down low and may be the favorite to win Ivy POY. The 6’8’’ senior forward posted a block rate of 8.8% (66th nationally) while finishing inside the arc at a 51.9% clip and getting to the line at the 63rd highest rate in the nation. In addition, Sears is one of the best rebounders in the conference on both sides of the ball and should dominate Ivy big men once again this season. Montague is a sharpshooting combo guard capable of handling the ball and catching-and-shooting from deep. Montague’s 41% three-point percentage led the team last season and with the Duren and Cotton departures he will be relied on heavily to provide outside scoring for the Dogs. Sherrod returns after a year-long hiatus in which he traveled the world with Yale’s famous a cappella group, the Yale Whiffenpoofs. You cannot make this stuff up. The 240 pound Sherrod is a load in the post and is a fierce defender in the interior. With Sears, Sherrod will help form what should be one of, if not the, best frontcourts in the Ivy. (Fun fact: Sherrod says he has aspirations to one day become mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut).
The supporting cast for Yale figures to be a mixture of new blood and prior year reserves (though isn't that always the case for every team?). Sophomore guard Makai Mason and junior wing Anthony Dallier have the best chances to fill the two open starting slots. Mason will be counted on as a complementary three-point threat to Montague, and Dallier will provide good length at the three spot. Off the bench (or possibly starting) for Yale will be junior forward Sam Downey and senior forward Khaliq Ghani. Both forwards were used sparingly last season but showed promise as capable backups, especially on the offensive end. Sears plays over 80% of Yale’s minutes anyway, so really the Dogs need only one of the two to be truly competent.
Yale brings in a stable of nice freshmen highlighted by 6’3’’ guard Alex Copeland, 6’7’’ forward Matt Greene, 6’6’’ forward Eli Lininger, 6’2’’ guard Trey Phills, and 6’7’’ forward Blake Reynolds. Now, there probably isn’t enough minutes to go around for each of these rookies to gain a substantial amount of playing time, but each one is talented and brings something to the table. Copeland is a lightning fast combo guard who was described by Coach Jones as a “tremendous on the ball defender”. Copeland should definitely see the court frequently this year. Greene, Lininger, and Reynolds are all big, strong forwards who will add toughness behind Sears and Sherrod. Phills was a top-20 recruit out of North Carolina and is a terrific scorer from either guard spot.
Yale was the best defensive team in the Ivy last season and they should only get better on that end of the ball with the return of Sherrod. Look for Yale to finish 1st or 2nd this season in the Ivy as they compete for their first trip to the Dance in over 50 years.
Key Losses: Cory Osetkowski, Steve Frankowski
Key Returners: Maodo Lo, Alex Rosenberg
Key Newcomers: Quinton Adlesh, John Sica
F Jeff Coby, Jr.; (5.4/3.3/0.5/0.2/0.7)
F Alex Rosenberg, Sr.; (2013-14) (16.0/3.7/1.3/0.7/0.1)
G Kyle Castlin, So,; (10.3/4.2/1.0/0.8/0.3)
G Maodo Lo, Sr.; (18.4/4.4/2.3/1.5/0.6)
G Isaac Cohen, Sr.; (4.8/5.4/4.0/0.6/0.3)
Reserves: Quinton Adlesh, John Sica, Luke Petrasek, Kendall Jackson, Nate Hickman, Chris McComber
Postseason Prediction: None
The Columbia Lions perhaps underachieved a bit last season winning just 13 games after coming off an impressive 21-win campaign. The problem though wasn’t the Lions’ offense, despite the injury to Alex Rosenburg. In fact, the offense improved (marginally) from the prior year, but the defense dipped dramatically as it turned out the Lions didn’t have the courage to guard their own shadows (slight cowardly lion Wizard of Oz reference).
This season the Lions return one of the better backcourts in the conference with Maodo Lo, Kyle Castlin, and Isaac Cohen. Lo is quite simply a beast and his name kind of reminds me of Lion, so it works on a few levels (also he’s German and lion in German is “Loewe”, boom). The 6’3’’ guard poured in 18.4 points per contest last season while shooting staggering percentages of .549/.418/.767. Those are awesome numbers considering the volume of shots Lo gracefully chucked up last season. Castlin had a quietly efficient freshman season, proving to be one of the Lions’ best o-boarders and putting up a respectable shooting slash of his own with a .476/.387/.803. Cohen, at 6’4’’, is a big point guard who distributed the ball nicely and rebounded well for his position. He also shot 64.3% from inside the arc on 84 attempts, one of the best marks in the country.
Columbia has question marks inside, especially with the departure of 6’11’’ center Cory Osetkowski, but the triumphant return of 6’7’’ forward Alex Rosenberg is cause for celebration. After missing the entire season due to a foot injury, Rosenberg, an All-Ivy Leaguer as a junior, returns to lead the Lions alongside Maodo Lo. Rosenberg was Columbia’s leading scorer in 2013-14 while shooting 42.9% from deep. His real value though comes in the form of his otherworldly ability to get to the free throw line. In 2013-14 Rosenberg was 9th in the country in FT Rate and fouls drawn per 40 minutes; he shot an ungodly 271 free throws (3rd nationally) and connected on 82.3% of them. The duo of Rosenberg and Lo should be one of the best in the conference.
Three reserves who received a decent amount of playing time in 2014-15 will look to step up and take bigger roles in the frontcourt this season: 6’8’’ Jeff Coby, 6’8’’ Chris McComber, and 6’10’’ Luke Petrasek. Coby offers tough rebounding and a solid defensive presence in the interior, McComber likes to shoot the long ball (but is not always so successful), and Petrasek does a little of everything not very well, but hey he’s 6’10’’. Nate Hickman and Kendall Jackson will provide some depth in the backcourt.
Two freshmen, 6’0’’ guard Quinton Adlesh and 6’7’’ forward John Sica promise to make immediate impacts for the Lions. Adlesh can flat out score and has a strong frame allowing him to match up with bigger guards. Sica is stretch four capable of hitting shots from behind the arc at a high rate. Both should see ample court time this season.
Columbia is an absolute Ivy League title contender this season. Maodo Lo is fantastic and is a first team all-conference shoo-in, and Alex Rosenberg will contend for conference player of the year. The rest of the team will have to step up around the dynamic duo, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, if the school wants to make a push for the Big Dance, but expect the Lions to be neck-and-neck alongside the Harvards, Yales, and Princetons of the world come spring.
Key Losses: Wesley Saunders, Siyani Chambers, Steve Moundou-Missi
Key Returners: Corbin Miller, Agunwa Okolie
Key Newcomers: Tommy McCarthy, Balsa Dragovic, Corey Johnson
C Zena Edosomwan, Jr.; (4.0/3.1/0.2/0.2/0.7)
F Agunwa Okolie, Sr.; (4.3/3.8/1.0/0.7/0.5)
G Andre Chatfield, So.; (1.7/1.2/0.5/0.6/0.0)
G Corbin Miller, Jr.; (8.2/1.6/0.6/0.5/0.0)
G Tommy McCarthy, Fr.;
Reserves: Balsa Dragovic, Corey Johnson , Chris Egi, Evan Cummins
Postseason Prediction: CBI/CIT
Harvard’s reign of terror appears to finally be in jeopardy. After making the tournament as the Ivy’s sole representative the past four straight seasons, injuries and graduations threaten to put an end to the Crimson machine this year.
Of course the loss of Wesley Saunders, Harvard’s best player and leading scorer, hurts, as does losing leading rebounder Steve Moundou-Missi – but those were expected subtractions. The loss of point guard Siyani Chambers to an off-season ACL tear is the real tragedy and the real kick in the balls. Without Chambers, the Crimson are left with a myriad of rather unproven players, none of which have had experience as being the lead guy for an offense for a D1 program.
6’2’’ guard Corbin Miller is Harvard’s leading returning scorer at just over 8 points per game. Miller should be a focal point in the Crimson offense this season, but he is primarily a spot-up long range shooter as last season showed when he attempted 163 threes (35%) versus only 35 twos. Agunwa Okolie is the only other returner who played significant minutes last season. Okolie is a lanky 6’8’’ forward that functions mostly as a wing slasher; his athleticism could give opponents problems in conference play, but his offensive ability is limited. Inside, Zena Edosomwan, a 6’9’’ 245 lb. senior should provide ample rebounding for the Crimson in Moundou-Missi’s stead. The big man was an absolute horrid finisher and free throw shooter last season, so those numbers will need to improve for Harvard to remain competitive.
Aside from the aforementioned players, the Crimson will rely on newcomers and previously seldom-used role players for leadership and scoring. Andre Chatfield, an athletic 6’4’’ sophomore, could be due for a major leap this season as his minutes will skyrocket from prior year. Evan Cummins, a 6’8’’ forward, should provide a solid frontcourt option off the bench. Cummins is a strong rebounder and finisher that Coach Tommy Amaker hopes can make a strong developmental stride in his game in his senior campaign.
Three freshmen, Tommy McCarthy, Corey Johnson, and Balsa Dragovic, figure to play enormous roles for Harvard this season. Johnson is a big guard at 6’5’’ with ample athleticism; he shouldn’t have too much trouble finding court time in Harvard’s thin backcourt. Dragovic is a 6’10’’ forward from Serbia who possesses a soft touch and fits the prototypical European big man mold. Dragovic will compete with Okolie and Chatfield for starting minutes and could end up being one of Harvard’s more reliable weapons on offense. Tommy McCarthy, once thought as a perfect backup to learn behind Siyani Chambers, will be thrust into the starting role this season. McCarthy is a mature player who possesses excellent scoring ability from the point guard spot. Maintaining poise will be the key for McCarthy in his inaugural Harvard season.
Despite not returning much in the ways of experience or “stardom”, I’m not ready to comfortably drop Harvard into the middle of the Ivy pack. This is an elite mid-major program and Tommy Amaker is a capable coach. The Crimson didn’t rely on their offense last season to win ball games; rather they were mainly dependent on their 36th ranked defense. Amaker’s system should allow for a smooth transition for the newcomers and it’s likely there’s a diamond in the rough amongst the former reserves. I’d expect Harvard to be right in the conversation all year for Ivy League champ, but fending off Princeton, Yale, and Columbia will be an infinitely tougher task than in years past.
Key Losses: None
Key Returners: Tony Hicks, Darien Nelson-Henry, Antonio Woods, Matt Howard
Key Newcomers: Jake Slipe, Collin McManus, Jackson Donahue
C Darien Nelson-Henry, Sr.; (8.5/5.1/0.9/0.4/0.8)
F Sam Jones, So.; (6.3/2.0/0.5/0.4/0.2)
G Matt Howard, Jr.; (8.4/3.2/0.9/1.0/0.3)
G Tony Hicks, Sr.; (13.2/3.5/2.5/0.8/0.0)
G Antonio Woods, So.; (8.4/2.3/3.8/0.7/0.1)
Reserves: Jake Slipe, Collin McManus, Darnell Foreman, Mike Auger, Jackson Donahue, Dylan Jones
Postseason Prediction: None
Up until about 2007, the Penn Quakers were the class of the Ivy League, making the NCAA tournament 7 times from 1999 – 2007. Hell, the program even has a final four appearance in 1979. Since the departure of Fran Dunphy (current Temple coach) in 2006, the Penn basketball program has experienced a steady decline. In the last three seasons under current head coach Jerome Allen, the Quakers have won 9, 8, and 9 games. Given that Penn was one of the youngest teams in the nation a season ago, the prospects for a higher finish in the Ivy and overall this season look pretty good. If they don’t improve, Allen may be showing himself the door within the next year or two.
The good news for the Quakers is they only lose one real contributor from a season ago in reserve forward Greg Louis. Penn returns everyone else of importance including five at-least partial starters in Darien Nelson-Henry, Sam Jones, Matt Howard, Tony Hicks, and Antonio Woods. On offense, Hicks, a 6’2’’ senior guard will be by far the team’s most crucial player this season. Hicks led Penn in scoring in 2014-15 and used 31% of the team’s possessions while on the floor (24th nationally). The guard was actually fairly efficient shooting the ball with a .425/.371/.777 slash, but struggled with turnovers (as did co-ball handler Woods). Nelson-Henry and Jones make up the frontcourt for Penn. Nelson-Henry is 6’11’’, is the team’s best rebounder, and blocks a fair amount of shots, but most of his value comes in the form of easy put backs and dunks around the rim. At 6’7’’ 175 lbs. (good lord), Jones plays more of a stretch four role, where he was incredibly successful leading the Quakers with a 43.2% shooting percentage from deep on 118 attempts as a freshman. Howard and Woods fill in as complementary pieces to the offense. Both guards attack the rim well, but both struggle to shoot from range as well.
Bolstering the frontcourt will be 6’8’’ junior Dylan Jones and 6’7’’ sophomore Mike Auger. Auger particularly will be of value; he was a terrific rebounder when he saw the floor last season and has a nice touch around the rim. Darnell Foreman, a 6’1’’ guard should see plenty of court time as well.
Penn brings in one of the better recruiting classes in the Ivy, headlined by 3-star point guard Jake Slipe. Slipe is described as a tough floor leader and a coach’s dream. Look for Slipe to push the incumbent Woods for the starting PG role as the season progresses. Joining Slipe is 2-star sharpshooter Jackson Donahue, a 6’0’’ guard from Connecticut and 6’10’’ center Collin McManus, a true post-man who should provide ample defense on the inside off the pine for the Quakers.
Penn is certainly much improved from last season; however, expectations will likely need to be curbed a bit. A top 5 conference finish is possible, but a 6th or 7th place ending wouldn’t shock the masses.
Key Losses: Gabas Maldunas, Alex Mitola
Key Returners: Connor Boehm
Key Newcomers: Evan Boudreaux, Guilien Smith, Michael Stones
F Evan Boudreaux, Fr.;
F Connor Boehm, Sr.; (9.5/5.1/1.0/0.4/0.2)
G Miles Wright, So.; (7.7/2.9/0.3/1.4/0.1)
G Guilien Smith, Fr.;
G Malik Gill, Sr.; (6.0/2.1/3.2/1.5/0.1)
Reserves: Michael Stones, Kevin Crescenzi, Tommy Carpenter, Cole Harrison, Taylor Johnson
Postseason Prediction: None
The Big Green had a nice finish to their Ivy conference season, rattling off 5 straight wins to end the season including one against Yale that crushed the Bulldogs’ postseason dreams, and even made the CIT where they were promptly eaten up by the Canisius Golden Griffins. With the loss of its two best players and the addition of possibly the best freshman in the Ivy, this season figures to be an interesting one for Dartmouth.
The losses of 6’9’’ Gabas Maldunas to graduation and 5’11’’ Alex Mitola to transfer via George Washington hurt a lot. Mitola and Maldunas were hands down the Big Green’s go-to combo last season and Mitola was one of the more efficient players in the conference. With these two gone, Dartmouth will turn to 6’7’’ senior forward Connor Boehm to provide leadership and offense, Boehm finished 54.6% of his shots within the arc last season and even occasionally showed nice touch from deep, going 17/39 (43.6%). Boehm was oft plagued by turnovers and his garbage FT% of 55.1% must improve if the Big Green wish to be competitive in this year’s version of the Ivy League.
Returning vets Miles Wright, Malik Gill, Kevin Crescenzi, and Tommy Carpenter will offer aid to Boehm this season. Wright, a 6’4’’ sophomore, is a ferocious perimeter defender (4.4% Stl%, 14th nationally) and does a little bit of everything on offense at passable rates (.478/.346/.648). A former football player, Wright is super strong and has the 240 pound frame to mix it up with bigger wings and even post-men inside. Gill, a 5’9’’ lightning quick guard figures to start at the point this season for Dartmouth. Gill had a superb season passing the ball with a 37.1 assist rate (14th in the nation) and his quick hands allowed him to achieve a steal percentage of 5.1%, the 3rd best mark in the country. If Gill can improve on his outside shot, he could be a dangerous x-factor this season for the Big Green. Crescenzi (6’3’’) is a deep-range threat off the bench and Carpenter (6’7”) will serve as a nice backup in the frontcourt.
Taking only the first part of this preview into consideration, the outlook wouldn’t look too rosy for the Big Green’s 2015-16 season; however, Dartmouth brings in a three-man recruiting class capable of being one of the best in the conference. The freshmen are highlighted by 6’8’’ 3-star forward Evan Boudreaux. Boudreaux is a big time scorer out of Lake Forest, Illinois with a high basketball IQ and loads of potential. He should start immediately alongside Boehm forcing him to develop his interior defense at a quick rate. Guilien Smith was Massachusetts’s Mr. Basketball as a senior. The 6’1’’ guard can play at either backcourt slot and possesses good three-point range. Michael Stones is a tough 6’1’’ point guard out of Orlando. He is aggressive and will look to push the tempo when given court time this season.
Due to the new blood and bigger roles for former reserves, Dartmouth’s 2015-16 finish is a bit of a toss-up. They could push to crack the top 4 or they could tumble to the 7th spot. A middle-of-the-pack finish this season is likely with a marquee win against a Harvard or Yale possible.
Key Losses: Leland King, Rafael Maja
Key Returners: Cedric Kuakumensah, Tavon Blackmon, Steven Spieth
Key Newcomers: Travis Fuller, Corey Daugherty, Obi Okolie
F Cedric Kuakamensah, Sr.; (11.2/7.4/0.8/0.5/2.5)
F Travis Fuller, Fr.;
G Steven Spieth, Jr.; (9.9/4.7/2.1/1.0/0.5)
G JR Hobbie, Jr.; (8.5/1.4/0.5/0.4/0.0)
G Tavon Blackmon, Jr.; (10.4/2.1/3.9/0.6/0.1)
Reserves: Tyler Williams, Patrick Triplett, Jason Massey, Corey Daugherty
Postseason Prediction: None
The Brown Bears (one of the best names in college basketball) were on the whole a pretty bad basketball team in 2014-15. But, this team actually competed in the majority of games they played; heck, they even knocked off Providence at Providence by 10 (that’s the last time I’ll say “heck”, I promise). Brown took Harvard to OT, lost to Yale by four, and proceeded to get wiped by lesser teams such as Austin Peay, Holy Cross, and the like. This season promises to be a better one for Brown with only two players departing from last year’s squad. The two departed, graduated forward Rafael Maja, and leading scorer / Nevada transfer Leland King, were two major players in Brown’s “success” last season.
The key returners for Brown this season are Cedric Kuakamensah, Tavon Blackmon, Steven Spieth, and Norman “JR” Hobbie. All four players saw nearly 30 minutes per games last season and averaged 11.2, 10.4, 9.9, and 8.5 points per contest respectively. Kuakamensah, the leading returning scorer will be Brown’s main weapon inside; though he plays more of a stretch four on the offensive end, Kuakamensah is a ferocious shot blocker (9.2% Blk%, 45th nationally) and defensive rebounder (21.7 DR%, 92nd nationally). Blackmon is Brown’s point guard. The 6’0’’ guard had a pretty good assist rate a season ago, but struggled with turnovers (26%) and shooting (42.1% twos, 25% threes). Blackmon’s strength lies in his ability to get to the foul line, where he converts at an 81.7% clip. Spieth is a 6’6’’ wing slasher who makes his living at the foul line, shooting 80.5% when he gets there. Hobbie filled in nicely for King when he left midway through the season shooting 40% from deep and 92% from the FT line.
Sophomores Tyler Williams (6’1’’ G), Patrick Triplett (6’4’’ G), and Jason Massey (6’4’’ G) will provide depth for the Brown incumbents.
Brown brings in 4 new freshmen in 2015-16. 6’9’’ Travis Fuller is the best recruit of the bunch and has a legitimate shot to start alongside Kuakamensah in the frontcourt on day one given Brown’s lack of size. Corey Daugherty is a 6’1’’ guard and was named the Gatorade Rhode Island Player of the Year as a senior in high school. Look for Daugherty to get minutes at both guard spots this season. Obi Okolie is a talented 6’5’’ guard from Canada who is coming off a knee injury; if healthy, he should see the floor.
Brown is trending up. While their ceiling may not quite be a top 3 or 4 finish in the Ivy yet, rest assured they will be a better team than last year and could upset a few conference stalwarts in 2015-16.
Key Losses: Shonn Miller, Galal Cancer, Devin Cherry
Key Returners: Robert Hatter
Key Newcomers: Stone Gettings, Matt Morgan, Xavier Eaglin, Troy Whiteside, Jack Gordon
C David Onuorah, Jr.; (2.0/3.5/0.3/0.5/1.5)
F Stone Gettings, Fr.;
G Matt Morgan, Fr.;
G Robert Hatter, Jr.; (11.3/2.7/0.7/1.2/0.3)
G JoJo Fallas, Jr.; (3.2/1.0/0.5/0.4/0.0)
Reserves: Xavier Eaglin, Troy Whiteside, Jack Gordon, Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof, Will Bathurst, Darryl Smith
Postseason Prediction: None
Yeesh. When I take a look at Cornell’s basketball outlook for 2015-16, I can’t help but think to myself, “at least the players on Cornell will be receiving a top-notch education”. The Big Red are coming off a fairly disappointing year in which they finished 13-17 and 5-9 in the Ivy. The team boasted one of the worst offenses in the country, but was actually quite stout on the defensive side of the ball. Cornell loses most of its production from a year ago including stud forward Shonn Miller who led the team in scoring and rebounding. In addition, they lose starters Galal Cancer and Devin Cherry leaving Coach Bill Courtney with an extremely young team in 2015-16.
The Big Red will be reliant upon 6’2’’ junior guard Robert Hatter for scoring and leadership. He is the only returner who played more than 20 minutes per contest last season and was Cornell’s second-leading scorer (11.3 ppg) behind Miller last year. Hatter is very much a volume scorer, with 44% two-point and 29.3% three-point percentages. The guard will need to focus on getting better shots this season and attacking the rim, where he shoots 83%. Joining Hatter is center David Onuorah. The Big Red’s starting center from last season. Onuorah is a big-time shot blocker (9.8% Blk%, 35th nationally) and strong offensive rebounder (less so on defense due to shot block attempts). The junior does not possess much of an offensive game however, and he will have to become more of a presence (or at least develop a better put-back method on o-boards) for Cornell to have a chance at winning a few games in the conference. Returners who saw limited action last season that will be forced into bigger roles include JoJo Fallas, a 5’11’’ guard with range, Darryl Smith, a 6’2’’ guard who struggled while on the court in 14-15, Will Bathurst, a 6’3’’ guard with the same story, and Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof, a 6’7’’ wing who also struggled mightily last season.
Given the (frankly) lack of talent returning, Cornell will count on a stable (8 freshmen!) of new blood to bring some semblance of competency to an otherwise bleak rotation. Stone Gettings is the jewel of the Big Red recruiting class. Gettings is a 2-star recruit out of California and at 6’9’’ 230 lbs. should provide Cornell some toughness and scoring inside to balance out Onuorah’s inept scoring ability. Expect Gettings to start immediately and be one of the better freshmen in the conference this year. Other freshmen who will make impacts on the lineup this season include 6’4’’ guard Troy Whiteside, 6’3’’ guard Matt Morgan, 6’5’’ sharpshooter Jack Gordon, and 6’7’’ forward Xavier Eaglin.
Cornell is super-young and inexperienced. Barring some sort of basketball miracle, the Big Red will struggle to stay out of the last place spot in the Ivy this season.