Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top Pre-Season Top 25 Player Countdown for the 2016-17 season. Each day, we’ll be publishing a new article counting down our best 25 players for the coming season. Today, we feature #5 Tyler Cavanaugh of George Washington.
What He’s Done
Last season, Tyler Cavanaugh established himself as one of the top players in the Atlantic 10. He was the only player on the GW roster to score in double figures in every game, and posted a new career-high of 30 points on January 9th against Duquesne. Oh, and he was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2016 NIT. From a statistical perspective, Cavanaugh was equally impressive, posting the 8th best free throw percentage in the A-10 (83.1%), 9th in rebounding (7.4), 10th in 3-point percentage (40%), 11th in field goal percentage (56.7), and 14th in points per game (16.4).
Tyler is the quintessential coach’s dream: a solid defender, an offensive post player who consistently hits free throws and is a three-point threat. He has done everything you could want a transfer to do, especially in just his first season. Cavanaugh was the perfect compliment to Kevin Larsen, and forced opponents to worry about more than just one post-player. You could easily make the argument that Tyler was the “X-factor” in the Colonials’ victory over Virginia this past season. The Cavaliers were forced to respect both Cavanaugh and Larsen, whereas when the two teams met in 2015, UVA only had to worry about Larsen (sorry John Kopriva!).
What He’ll Do
For the first time in his college career, Tyler Cavanaugh will be the guy this season for GW. The departure of arguable one of the best senior classes ever to come through Foggy Bottom last season last season leaves big shoes to fill. But Tyler has already shown the ability to step up in key moments, such as his momentum-shifting dunk against Virginia, or his clutch three in the final minute of the NIT Quarterfinals against Florida.
As a program, George Washington sits at crossroads: as of the date of this publication (October 2nd), GW Athletic Director Patrick Nero still has not named a new head coach for the Colonials. Nero has interviewed Lonergan’s old assistants Hajj Turner, Maurice Joseph and Carmen Maciariello, but none have been offered the job-at least for now. Regardless of who becomes the new coach, it will be interesting to see how said coach will integrate the incoming freshmen and transfers into the Colonials’ lineup. This will ultimately play a big role in how Tyler will evolve this season. Will Kevin Marfo be an immediate starter, or will he be the third man off the bench? How will Yuta Watanabe fit into the lineup? Beyond Cavanaugh and Watanabe, there remaining three starting-lineup positions are up for grabs.
The coaching-saga aside, there is little doubt that Tyler Cavanaugh will once again be one of the Atlantic 10’s most prolific scorers, and overall, one of the league’s best players. The expectations will be high for the redshirt-senior, and the real question will be: can he deliver?
Previously: #6 T.J. Cline