As a “sneakerhead”, I have to have the best sneakers at all times. Thus, my sneaker collection has to be composed of only the best-looking, most limited, and rarest sneakers. In relation to the world of college basketball, almost every player wears the best sneakers and many can be considered “sneakerheads”. Consequently, it is only appropriate that I rank all of the 2017-2018 Atlantic 10 teams within tiers of certain sneaker brands (as I would rank the brands). These rankings listed below, order the fourteen teams in the conference by my expected overall production of each team throughout the entire upcoming season.
Nike: The #1 Sneaker Brand
Rhode Island – Heading into the next season, the Rams should be the favorite in the Atlantic 10. Dan Hurley’s team returns one of the best groups of guards in the nation. In addition, Daron “Fatts” Russell is going to add even more talent to the backcourt. Meanwhile, freshmen Jeff Dowtin and Cyril Langevine will both have a year of experience under their belts. The fact that no one is even mentioning heralded big men, Michael Layssard Jr. and Michael Tertsea, is beyond me. There are already predictions being made that have the Rhode Island Rams as a preseason Top-25 team at the start of the 2017-2018 season.
VCU – Although Will Wade left for LSU, Lavar Batts left for NC State, and Mayan Kiir has requested his release from the program, the Rams from Richmond, VA will still be strong. The coaching hire of Mike Rhoades was a crafty addition. Led by Justin Tillman and Jonathan Williams, Virginia Commonwealth should have another strong season and an eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance is within the realm of possibility. Keep an eye on if Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed sticks around. His decision could drop them into the Jordan tier, in my eyes.
Jordan: The #2 Sneaker Brand
Dayton – There will be an adjustment period without a fantastic head coach like Archie Miller around in Dayton, Ohio. Anthony Grant could very well sustain the success that the Flyer had under Miller but everything takes time to flourish. If Grant can properly use players like Xeryius Williams, Josh Cunningham, and Kostas Antetokounmpo, the Flyers will rise up again.
Saint Bonaventure – Guard play, guard play, and more guard play. Jaylen Adams, Matt Mobley, and Idris Taqqee will determine how far the Bonnies get in the 2017-2018 season. As of now, Mark Schmidt’s team appears to be a prime contender for a top 4 spot in the Atlantic 10, as well as a contender for an at-large bid into the 2018 NCAA tournament.
Adidas: The #3 Sneaker Brand
Richmond – There is no more T.J. Cline and ShawnDre’ Jones to carry the load but De’Monte Buckingham, Khwan Fore, and Nick Sherod gives Chris Mooney young talent to work with.
Davidson – Bob McKillop can never be counted out, no matter the situation. Talented forward Peyton Aldridge will pace the offensive attack, with the aid of Jon Axel Gudmundsson, Will Magarity, and Rusty Reigel. Much like the team that I have listed below them (LaSalle), offense will likely not be the issue. McKillop’s team will go as far as their defense will take them.
LaSalle – Jordan Price epitomized LaSalle basketball and he will no longer be an Explorer next season. John Giannini needs his team to consistently perform offensively, instead of being the Jekyll and Hyde team that they were last season. An important key to the Explorers story will be whether or not B.J. Johnson gets drafted or not.
Saint Joseph’s – Phil Martelli will have the opportunity to put the team on the court that he wanted to have out there last season. With a dynamic talent like Charlie Brown, flanked by Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble, to go with Pierefrancesco Oliva, the Hawks can make some noise.
UMASS – Matt McCall is a head coach that can build confidence amongst his players and he has one of the most talent rosters in the conference, from top to bottom. With that said, the Atlantic 10 is a much tougher conference than the SOCON and McCall will need to learn on the job.
Reebok: The #4 Sneaker Brand
Saint Louis – Travis Ford is in a relatively okay position with his team and he continues to bring in top-100 talent, but the Billikens need all of the talent together at once to build and strengthen the team chemistry. Once Carte’Are Gordon arrives in the 2018-2019 season, Ford’s team should be able to realistically contend in the Atlantic 10. In the meantime, Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French are welcome additions and the Adidas tier looks to be this team’s ceiling in the 2017-2018 season.
George Washington – Maurice Joseph will need to rally his troops and he will already have a tough job in his second season at the lead in Foggy Bottom. Without Tyler Cavanaugh, Jaren Sina and Kevin Marfo, Yuta Watanabe is going to have to carry the load and players like Jordan Roland and Patrick Steeves will need to speed up their progression, for this team to be successful.
George Mason – The Patriots lose an all-Atlantic 10 type of talent with Marquise Moore being gone, as well as a solid player in Jalen Jenkins. Dave Paulsen will need to work magic once more to get the most optimal production out of his team.
FUBU: The Worst Sneaker Brand
Duquesne – The rebuilding process with Keith Dambrot should produce many wins down the road but that time cannot be expected to come as soon as next season.
Fordham – Jeff Neubauer’s team is good at grabbing the odd upset but with Antwoine Anderson and Chris Sengfelder expected to transfer, these Rams do not even have the talent that helped them earn their major upsets over URI and VCU last season.
Congratulations to all of the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball teams that are not in the FUBU tier, you all have a chance to contend within the conference next season. For all of the teams that are in the FUBU tier, trust in the process and eventually you will succeed.