Atlantic 10 secret weapons: each team’s sneaky impressive player thus far

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Through the ups and the downs, it’s been a wild start to the basketball season for the A-10. While the league has had more disappointments than celebrations thus far, it is a long season, and there are a ton more games to watch. Through just a few weeks of college hoops, let’s take a look at each Atlantic 10 team’s secret weapon, making impressive strides in 2018-19.

Davidson: Carter Collins

The sophomore has quietly been Davidson’s best defender this year and has greatly improved on the offensive end. Collins hit a clutch three to tie Dartmouth late in that contest, and he had 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists in the ‘Cats win over Northeastern. Collins is shooting 10/14 inside the 3 point line and has a 3.9% block percentage thus far, the best on the team.

Dayton: Obi Toppin

The Flyers’ poster child may be Josh Cunningham, but freshman Obi Toppin has been making headlines in his first few collegiate games. Toppin had 37 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists in his first 2 games as a Flyer, leading his team to a 3-0 record to start the year. Shooting 66.7% from the floor, Toppin is already proving to be an impressive threat from 2 point range for Anthony Grant’s club.

Duquesne: Sincere Carry

Carry had one heck of a start to the season for the Dukes. He had 9 assists against William & Mary followed by a 32 point, 6 rebounds, 8 assist, and 4 steal night to lead Duquesne over Illinois Chicago. The freshman has since come down to earth, as he’s scored only 3 points in his last 2 contests. However, the Dukes know they have a guard that can heat up at a moment’s notice, and he’s got some room to grow.

Fordham: Jalen Cobb

Despite all the attention Nick Honor received in the preseason, Jalen Cobb has been one of the most important players thus far. Cobb had 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists against Columbia in a thrilling win for the Rams. That’s the second time he’s reached double figures scoring this season, and though he’ll have to clean up his turnovers a bit, he’s been a strong passer as well.

George Mason: AJ Wilson

There haven’t been a lot of things to celebrate in Fairfax yet, but AJ Wilson has arguably been the most impressive player this season. With 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 blocks against Southern, Wilson was the pivotal piece in leading the Patriots to their first win of the season. If I’m Dave Paulsen, I’m going to want to ride my sophomore on defense as much as possible.

George Washington: Arnaldo Toro

I couldn’t really come up with a secret weapon given GW’s struggles, but Arnaldo Toro has at least had some flashes of improvement. Toro has been good on the defensive end with a 3.0% block percentage and a 3.2% steal percentage, but the Colonials have struggled immensely all season.

La Salle: Jared Kimbrough

The freshman has been great on the offensive glass with the 18th best offensive rebounding percentage in the nation right now. He’ll need to clean up his fouling and improve from the charity stripe, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen from the freshman on the glass thus far.

Massachusetts: Sy Chatman

Freshman Chatman has been sneakily pretty impressive for the Minutemen this season. He’s 12/16 from 2 point range this year and has scored 7 or more points 3 times already this year. He’s also a pretty solid defensive threat with his big body. He’s been a nice addition to UMass’ frontcourt this season.

Rhode Island: Christion Thompson

Thompson has been a very impressive piece for Rhode Island this year, adding a pivotal 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals against Harvard recently. He’s also yet to commit a turnover this year, despite having played 85 total minutes.

Richmond: Nathan Cayo

Cayo was crucial for the Spiders in their win over St. Francis NY, going for 15 points and 6 rebounds. It would be great to see Cayo step up and fill a more crucial role for the Spiders, as they’ve been struggling to find a 4th option this year. That was evident against Loyola Chicago where Cayo was almost invisible.

Saint Joseph’s: Pierfrancesco Oliva

On a team that’s dominated by its stars, it’s hard to find a secret weapon. Oliva had a critical 17 points and 14 rebounds in the Hawks’ opening win against Old Dominion but has since slowed down. Regardless, Oliva has had 5 assists in 3 separate contests this season and is looking to be one of the better passers for the Hawks. He’ll be a pivotal player as Saint Joseph’s lacks size and rebounding ability this year.

Saint Louis: Dion Wiley

Saint Louis is a team that desperately needs three point shooting, and Wiley is one of the few threats from downtown. He had a huge 17 point performance against Seton Hall, hitting all 3 attempts from deep. If the Billikens want to win the conference this year, Wiley’s shooting will be an important piece to the puzzle.

St. Bonaventure: Jalen Poyser

It’s hard to imagine a more frustrating start to the season for the Bonnies, but they’ve been without their 2 best players, so you have to cut them some slack. Regardless, it’s been tough to watch. UNLV transfer Poyser has had some good scoring performances lately, as he’s proving he can knock down the long range shot. When Stockard and Griffin return, he may be able to get more comfortable with less weight on his shoulders.

VCU: Corey Douglas

In a season that’s been full of lockdown defense for the Rams, Corey Douglas probably isn’t getting enough recognition for his rim protecting ability. Douglas has 11 blocks through 5 games and has been a huge presence on the inside, helping the Rams bring back their signature feisty defense. He’s also been strong on the defensive glass for VCU.

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About Author

Grant Labedz is a college basketball superfan who loves the entire sport but definitely has favorites in the A-10 and the Big Ten. He has written for SB Nation's BT Powerhouse (Big Ten Basketball) and The Champaign Room (Illinois Basketball). He also co-founded his own Illinois Basketball blog called The Groce Report. Grant is a member of the Davidson Class of 2020. Shoot him an email at [email protected] Follow @GrantLabedz

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