#141 Howard Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Howard Bison
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #141
Conference Rank: #1 MEAC
After finishing with a 10-6 record in MEAC play back in 2014-2015, Howard was expected to compete for a conference title in 2015-2016. But it did not work out that way with a rash of injuries continuously setting the team back. They finished 6-10 and tied for ninth. But Coach Kevin Nickelberry returns a ton of talent and this is basically the same team that was supposed to be very good last season, but with more experience. It all starts with James Daniel III, one of the best pure scorers in the nation. On top of his 27.1 points per game, Daniel averaged 2.8 assists and knocked down a team high 80 three-pointers. Daniel, a 5-10 senior, has had an amazing career and does absolutely everything for the Bison. Even on those rare occasions when his outside shot is not falling, Daniel will attack the basket with ease. He made 331 trips to the free-throw line as a junior and knocked down 84.6 percent of those attempts.
2015-16 Record: 12-20, 6-10
2015-16 Postseason: none
Coach: Kevin Nickelberry
Coach Record: 50-130 at Howard, 108-174 overall
Who’s Out:
Keon Hill and Oliver Ellison are the most significant departures. Hill averaged 3.0 points and 1.1 assists per game and was a regular contributor off of the bench. Ellison was a big body in the paint, but he only played in 11 games. Little used Patrick Speller and Chuck Smith are also gone.
Who’s In:
With the top eight scorers returning and a few other players with some experience, Howard will not need to rely on their newcomers very much at all. One of those players the Bison hope to get back this year is 6-5 wing Prince Okoroh. He has missed the last two seasons, but back in 2013-2014 he averaged 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds. The one true newcomer that could make an impact is junior college transfer Michael Obindu. The sophomore may not put up big numbers, but at 6-8 and 200 pounds, he is another big body for Coach Nickelberry to utilize. Incoming freshmen Henry Odunze and Ibrahim Dosunmu also add some more size to the roster. Kia Tease, Nate Garvey and Charles Williams add options to the backcourt. There is not much room for playing time this year, but if any of those freshmen can prove that they can handle the ball or knock down shots, they could see some minutes.
Who to Watch:
Damon Collins, Dalique Mingo, Tyler Stone and Marcel Boyd were regular starters along with Daniel last season. Collins, a 6-5 senior wing, averaged 10.1 points per game and proved to be a solid option attacking the basket. Mingo was thrown into the fire when injuries struck, but he had some decent outings. He averaged just 4.4 points per game on the year though and now that James Miller is back, Mingo will likely return to the bench. Two years ago Miller averaged 11.2 points per game and he was well on his way to a better 2015-2016 campaign before an injury cut his year short after just five games. Miller is the efficient scorer this team really lacked on the perimeter last year. Stone and Boyd were the stars in the frontcourt. Boyd averaged 10.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks as a junior. At 6-11 and 225 pounds, he is a beast in the paint, especially in a conference like the MEAC which is so often guard driven. Stone is 6-7 and 200 pounds and another experienced senior. He turned out to be a great complimentary player to Boyd, especially during conference play when his averages boosted to 7.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. However, just like in the backcourt, an injury in the frontcourt could change the starting five. Solomon Mangham was averaging 7.6 points and 5.6 rebounds through 14 games before missing the rest of the season. Mangham is a versatile player though who can occupy the three or the four spot. When playing at the three, the 6-6 senior will be a tough matchup for most opposing small forwards.
Final Projection:
If this team can stay healthy, they will compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament and a MEAC title. On top of all of the starting experience already mentioned, Kofi Andoh started a dozen games last year and then there are promising sophomores Jalen Jones and Cameron Lewis. Jones, a 6-4 forward, managed to average 12.4 minutes per game as a freshman. He could see those minutes decrease as a sophomore just because there are so many other options. But that would not be a bad thing. Unlike last year, this team should now have the depth to recover from an injury or two, as long as it is not to Daniel. The Bison need their leader to draw all of the attention. And that is when all of the other players can make the opposition pay for spending too much time watching Daniel.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
James Daniel, Senior, Guard, 27.1 points per game
James Miller, Junior, Guard, 15.0 points per game
Damon Collins, Senior, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Tyler Stone, Senior, Forward, 7.2 points per game
Marcel Boyd, Senior, Center, 10.4 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.2 (197th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 76.0 (275, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 40.6 (311, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.5 (119, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.5 (340, 13)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 29.6 (335, 13)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.0 (57, 2)
Rebound Margin: -1.1 (225, 5)
Assists Per Game: 8.6 (346, 13)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.9 (331, 11)