#100 Charleston Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Charleston Cougars
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #100
Conference Rank: #3 CAA
Charleston limped to an 8-10 record in CAA play last season, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic this time around. Two years ago the Cougars won nine games all year and the expectations were extremely low for Coach Earl Grant and company heading into the 2015-2016 campaign. But the Cougars were competitive despite some injuries. That 8-10 mark is a great step to better things coming this year and beyond. Charleston has a bevy of talent on the perimeter and a couple experienced forwards in Jarrell Brantley and Nick Harris. Those two were regular starters a year ago and should step right back into that role. Brantley, a 6-7 sophomore, is a slasher who can finish around the basket and hit the glass effectively. He averaged 11.7 points and a team high 7.3 rebounds as a freshman. Harris, also a sophomore, is the more traditional big man who will stay in the paint. He is not a major scoring threat, but he can bang around in the paint and play some defense.
2015-16 Record: 17-14, 8-10
2015-16 Postseason: none
Coach: Earl Grant
Coach Record: 26-38 at Charleston, 26-38 overall
Who’s Out:
The Cougars do lose Canyon Barry, who will spend his senior season at Florida, but Barry only played in the first 13 games last season anyway. He did average 19.7 points per game during those contests, but Charleston was able to move on without him already. James Bourne is the most significant loss then and he averaged just 15.0 minutes per game in 21 contests. He was an experienced 6-8, 255 pound forward who could battle in the paint though. With Donovan Gilmore transferring, the frontcourt loses a player with potential. Gilmore averaged just 7.3 minutes per game, but he did earn six starts on the year.
Who’s In:
The addition of incoming freshmen forwards Chevez Goodwin, Jaylen McManus and Osinachi Smart should be more than enough to replace Bourne and Gilmore. Goodwin is the one to watch this year. The 6-9, 205 pound Columbia, South Carolina native can shoot the ball very well for a player his size and he should be able to play some quality minutes this year and stretch out the defense. The backcourt does not need much help right away, but they will get it from redshirt freshman Grant Riller. Riller is a big time scorer from anywhere on the floor and, despite all of the talent returning on the perimeter, should be competing for a starting job. Incoming freshman Brevin Galloway will have more trouble cracking the regular rotation this year.
Who to Watch:
Along with Riller, Cameron Johnson, Marquise Pointer, Payton Husley, Evan Bailey and Joe Chealey all have claims on a starting spot. Cameron Johnson was the team’s top scorer last season with 12.3 points per game and shot 38.5 percent from beyond the arc. Pointer was the team’s most prolific outside shooter and dished out 2.9 assists per game to go along with his 11.2 points. Husley is not a great scorer, but he does everything else. The 6-5 senior led the team with 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game and was second in rebounding with 5.6 per contest. Evan Bailey is a big 6-6 wing who takes a lot of three-pointers. He was used as an offensive spark off of the bench last season and could fill that role again this year. Joe Chealey missed last season with an injury and averaged 12.4 points and 3.3 assists as a sophomore in 2014-2015. He was missed last season, but should step back into his starting point guard role now that he is healthy.
Final Projection:
The backcourt wins championships in the CAA and the Cougars have a very talented and deep one. Even if Riller does not live up to his potential, this team is loaded with scorers and players like Hulsey who can do everything but score. The frontcourt has less experience behind probable starters Jarrell Brantley and Nick Harris, but senior Terrance O’Donohue can play 20 minutes per game while Goodwin and the other newcomers in the frontcourt adjust to life in the CAA. Regardless of who starts, Coach Grant has the talent to work with and he has done an amazing job rebuilding this program extremely quickly. This is the year it starts paying off.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Joe Chealey, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Cameron Johnson, Junior, Guard, 12.3 points per game
Payton Hulsey, Senior, Guard, 5.5 points per game
Jarrell Brantley, Sophomore, Forward, 11.7 points per game
Nick Harris, Sophomore, Forward, 4.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 65.4 (319th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.0 (8, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.0 (267, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.4 (115, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.6 (208, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.6 (175, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.7 (288, 9)
Rebound Margin: 1.1 (150, 6)
Assists Per Game: 11.7 (273, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.7 (177, 9)