The this past season’s A-10 was loaded with senior talent. Saint Joseph’s Championship trio of Galloway, Roberts Jr. and Kanacevic will make like the Hawk and fly on to bigger and better things. The gritty SLU duo of Jett and Evans, gone. GW’s inside-out combo of Armwood and Creek, forced to raise high the buff and blue only as spectators next season. Dayton’s Oliver and VCU’s Reddic, both Sweet 16 veterans, will take their talents to the professional level. Chaz, Tyreek and Ovie, names that filled up the stat sheet for their teams this past season, all moving on.
Only three all-conference players return to the Atlantic 10 next season, a list that includes just one First Team All-Conference selection, Treveon Graham. So with so many question marks, the league may have it’s work cutout for it in replicating the six bids they sent dancing this past March. But with each graduation creates an opportunity for a new star to shine bright.
Here is my list of the top returning players at each of the five positions for next season. Keep in mind, this is going strictly by position, and is not a list of the best five overall players, a list that we’ll get to closer to the season as we reveal our preseason All-Conference selections.
PG – Briante Weber (VCU) – For starters, there’s his defense. Weber has led all of college basketball in steals percentage in all three of his seasons at VCU and truth be told, should have won the National Defensive Player of the Year Award over Ohio State’s Aaron Craft (who was basically given a lifetime achievement award). His 121 steals led the rest of the pack by 26 steals, and in one less game than the runner-up. On offense, the rising senior ranks second to only GW’s Joe McDonald in assists per game by returning players at 3.9 (McDonald dished 4.1 per game). Weber proved to be a capable scorer as well, averaging 9.4 points per game including a 14 ppg average in his three games during last season’s A-10 tournament.
SG – Jordan Sibert (Dayton) – I give Sibert the edge because 1) his shooting percentages were real nice (45.5% fg% and 42.6% 3p%), and I like percentages with points over a guy like Fordham’s Jon Severe who scored but missed a lot more than he made and 2) he was the leading scorer on a team that eventually went to the Sweet 16. Richmond’s Kendall Anthony and Rhode Island’s E.C. Matthews are probably your runners up at the position, but at the end of the day, I have to go with Sibert. That said, Matthews was +27 on Sibert in the two head-to-head games between Dayton and Rhodie…so don’t be surprised if you refresh this page and I’ve already swapped the two. Matthews was +8 on Anthony in their only game this season, in case you’re wondering.
SF – Treveon Graham (VCU) – The guy is going to be your Preseason Player of the Year, and for good reason. He really does it all. I love DeAndre Bembry and Dyshawn Pierre, but Graham has been a matchup nightmare for three seasons now and with Reddic moving on, could shoulder even more of the load next season at VCU. He has a very real shot of becoming VCU’s all-time leading scorer (needs to averaged about 17.5 ppg to break Eric Maynor’s record there) and will finish as a top-10 rebounder as well.
PF – Jerrell Wright (La Salle) – I go with him over Terry Allen, who I think is an underrated (and underused?) player for the Richmond Spiders. It’s just hard to argue with Wright’s numbers and how valuable he’s been to the Explorers these past two seasons. His 110.8 offensive rating ranked second this past season to only Graham (111.2) among players used at least 24% of possessions. With Garland and Duren graduating, Wright will likely see that usage percentage rise, so could be in line for some nice numbers next season.
C – Youssou Ndoye (St. Bonaventure) – This was probably the hardest for me to choose, but I was really impressed by Ndoye’s game this past season, which I found to be an incredibly well-rounded one. Kevin Larsen and Cady Lalanne are right up there, but Ndoye gives you a sensational presence defensively, blocking 9.74% of opponents shots (second to only VCU’s Mo Alie-Cox who played a lot less minutes) and on offense, hit 52% of his attempts this past season for a 10.2 ppg average in 26.2 minutes. With the graduation of guys like Matthew Wright and Charlon Kloof, the Bonnies will need Ndoye to do a better job of staying in the game by avoiding foul trouble, which could have a net negative effect on his defense.
Disagree with my selections? Join the discussion with a list of your own on our new A10talk.com mens basketball forum.