As we count down the days to the start of the 2018-19 season, A10 Talk will be brining you its preseason power rankings, as voted on by its team of writers. We begin the countdown with #12 La Salle Explorers.
Returnees to Watch for
Entering his senior year and 3rd season as an Explorer after transferring from Memphis, Pookie Powell is the player to watch for on La Salle. Powell averaged 16.9 points, 4.3 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game last season, all while in the presence of leading scorer B.J. Johnson. Given the latter’s departure, I can only imagine the kind of numbers Powell is going to put up as a senior — but he’s going to need some help. La Salle returns junior Isiah Deas who had a promising sophomore season as the Explorers’ third leading scorer. Junior Saul Phiri is also back as La Salle’s best returning rebounder. The Explorers also have a point guard who will look to make impressive strides as Jamir Moultire comes back for season #2.
Newcomers to Watch for
You’re going to have to keep an eye on Traci Carter this year. The Marquette transfer played limited minutes in Milwaukee but was a highly-touted recruit out of college with a developed skill set and an ability to make an immediate impact under Ashley Howard. Freshmen Ed Croswell and Jared Kimbrough will add depth to the Explorers’ frontcourt, a part of the floor that will be looking for big contributions from Miles Brookins and Cian Sullivan as well. Jack Clark is a 6-5 shooting guard who could easily be the Explorers’ next star player. Expect him to make an immediate impact when he takes the floor in November.
Games to Watch
Coach Howard is putting his team through the gauntlet in his first season at La Salle. The Explorers have true road tests against Temple and Florida at the start of the season. They’ll travel out west to play in the Wooden Legacy as well, facing Miami (FL) and potentially Northwestern or Seton Hall among others. Not to mention, they’ll get Villanova at the Palestra, a game that is always fun for Philly natives. Though these games will be fun, the Explorers might have a tough time pulling out the wins. Look for a home game against Penn to be a very competitive matchup in which the result will be telling as to how the Explorers will end up doing. Needless to say, La Salle will be battle-tested prior to entering conference play in 2019.
La Salle, going through a coaching change, is certainly going to start entering rebuilding mode. However, the Explorers have a lot of weapons at their disposal this season that could help them finish higher than they did last year. Losing B.J. Johnson is difficult, but the addition of Traci Carter and some impact freshman will help alleviate that loss. La Salle was competitive in a number of contests last year (look at a game against Rhode Island, Villanova), but the Explorers were seldom able to close them out. I think the talent on this team has, and will continue to be, on par with a lot of teams in this league. The Explorers need to figure out how to win, and hopefully coach Howard has the recipe for success moving forward.