Bare with me. I know we just got this season started, and a lot of things are going to happen between now and March. However, Massachusetts looks like a team that could be a favorite to win the Atlantic 10 in 2 seasons. Depending on how the Minutemen end up this year, 2018-19 could be an enormous season.
1. The Atlantic 10 will lose a strong class of seniors
Honestly, even though this is a down year for the Atlantic 10, there is a strong class of seniors that will leave the league behind. Davidson will lose Peyton Aldridge and a large portion of its scoring. St. Bonaventure will see the departures of both Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. Rhode Island will lose E.C. Matthews and Jared Terrell among others. While the last team, URI, should reload with an incredible class of freshmen (as well as keep guards Daron Russell and Jeff Dowtin around), the other two will have to rebuild.
While I expect Dayton and VCU to be better next year, I don’t think either team will have returned to its post as a flagship in the Atlantic 10 by 2018-19. UD will lose Darrell Davis but should be better with emerging classes of seniors and sophomores. VCU will utilize its young talent as well as transfer Marcus Evans, but Jonathan Williams and Justin Tillman will be tough to replace. The Minutemen are set to lose only C.J. Anderson.
2. The Minutemen bring in a ton of new talent
If Massachusetts has looked thin in terms of depth this year, you’re not mistaking. With just 8 scholarship players, the Minutemen have been making do with what they have, and after Saturday’s win over Providence, it’s easy to see that they’re doing alright. Next season will feature the addition of Keon Clergeot, Curtis Cobb, Kieran Hayward, and Jonathan Laurent, all incoming transfers with collegiate basketball experience. In addition, Massachusetts will add point guard Tre’ Wood and 4 star forward Samba Diallo. With 6 new available weapons, depth issues are going to be a distant memory for the Minutemen.
3. Massachusetts has young and talented players
Considering LuWane Pipkins is only a sophomore, I expect the Minutemen to be pretty darn good for the next couple seasons. He’s averaging nearly 19 points per game this season and was a huge factor in helping the Minutemen take down Providence, going for 30 points. Malik Hines and Rashaan Holloway will make up one of the best frontcourts in the A-10 in 2018-19, and Carl Pierre is emerging as a force, and he’s just a freshman.
4. Matt McCall has simply been getting the job done
I think McCall is leading the way in offseason coaching hires from the A-10, and it’s not even close. Yes, Dambrot, Rhodes, and Grant have all had their good moments, but Matt McCall’s piecing together a season that may not be a complete dumpster fire, even though the Minutemen have just 8 scholarship guys. It hasn’t been easy, but McCall has coached his rear end off, and I’m really happy to see that hire going so well for this team. Following Massachusetts’ win over Providence, I really have faith in this program’s ability to make the NCAA Tournament in a year or two. With McCall at the helm, it really seems feasible.