Welcome to A10 Talk’s Preseason Top 25 Player Countdown for the 2017-18 season. Each day, we’ll be publishing a new article, counting down our best 25 players for the coming season. Today, we feature #15 Pookie Powell of La Salle.
Our Top 25 Player Countdown is a compiled list based on voting from our staff and writers from across the league. Thanks to the following for helping configure this year’s Top 25 Atlantic 10 Player Countdown:
Grant Labedz (@GrantLabedz), Mat Shelton-Eide (@MatSheltonEide), Grant Kelly (@GrantKelly07), Andrew Phung (@LoveRI401), By George (@ByGeorgeGMU), Davidson Recruiting (@DavidsonMBBRecr), Steve DiMiceli (@SteveDiMiceli), Rhody Rampage (@RhodyRampage), UMass Recruiting (@UMassRecruiting), Bona Blog (@BonaBlog), Petey Buckets (@PeteyBuckets), and UMass Ball Report (@theumbr).
What He’s Done
Rashawn “Pookie” Powell made his way to THE La Salle University the way it seems most top Explorers do: via transfer. A former consensus top-100 player out of high school, Pookie left Memphis following the 2014-15 season and returned to the court this past year where he proved just how valuable of an addition he was and will be to future Explorer teams. The Explorers jumped out to an 11-6 start to the season with a healthy Pookie in the lineup, including a 5-2 start to A-10 play with a win over eventual tourney jump Rhode Island and the two loses coming on the road at Dayton and VCU. That 17-game stretch saw the Orlando native post an offensive rating of 120.7 (for comparison, A-10 POY TJ Cline’s season o-rating was 110.2) while averaging 13.4 points, 3.6 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Upon return from injury in mid-February La Salle had fallen to .500 in conference play, the wheels had fallen off and Dr. G and Co. were headed into a sputtering end to the season that concluded with a A-10 tourney loss to the Wildcats of Davidson. But individually Powell showed enough to excite Explorer fans about his future prospects, finishing the season with a 13.7 ppg season average and a blistering 57.3% true shooting percentage to go with what is a now career assist rate of 25.3%, making him a serious player to watch this upcoming season.
What He’ll Do
Powell returns as the second leading scorer behind B.J. Johnson and should see a boost in volume thanks to the graduation of Jordan Price and his 11.9 attempts per contest. Expect big numbers from the guard, but like last season, that might not mean all that much if the Explorers can’t string together a defense better than last year’s 251st-ranked unit. A 27 ppg scorer out of high school, I expect Powell to grab more league attention as his volume numbers (I’m guessing a 18-20+ ppg average) match last season’s efficiency, making him one of the best guards in the league this upcoming season. Reminder, this is a guy that dropped 27 points in 31 minutes this past season against the defending national champs. Expect more nights like that next year as Powell alongside B.J. Johnson hope to make La Salle the serious A-10 contender they were supposed to be last season.
Previously: #16 Joseph Chartouny