#141 Coastal Carolina Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

2015-16 Overall Rank: #141
Conference Rank: #2 Big South

#141 Coastal Carolina Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Coastal Carolina Team Page


For the second straight season, Coach Cliff Ellis led his Coastal Carolina Chanticleers to a Big South Tournament championship; and an NCAA Tournament berth. However, last year’s team was much different than the 2013-14 NCAA Tournament team. In fact, the Big South as a whole was much different last season. In 2013-14, Coastal Carolina was clearly the best team all year long, taking out lackluster competition on the way to a #1 overall seed in the conference tournament (and an eventual first round exit from the NCAA Tournament). However, the 2014-15 Big South was far superior, competition wise. Although the Chanticleers won one more game than they did in the previous season (11-5 in 2013-14, 12-6 in 2014-15), instead of being atop the conference at the end of the season, they were tied for second with two other teams (Radford and Winthrop) and trailed High Point and Charleston Southern by one game. When the Big South Tournament rolled around, however, the Chanticleers used their home court advantage, well, to their advantage and took out Winthrop in the title game to advance to the NCAA Tournament. With a bunch of returning talent and one of the best mid-major coaches in the nation, the Chanticleers will compete in the conference once again.

2014-15 Record: 24-10, 12-6
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA Tournament; lost in first round to (1) Wisconsin 86-72
Coach: Cliff Ellis
Coach Record: 158-98 at Coastal Carolina, 770-447 Overall

Who’s Out:
Much like Toledo (see #143) the Chanticleers aren’t losing a whole lot of players if you were just looking at basic numbers, but are losing a lot in the small amount that is leaving. In other words, the Chanticleers are losing a couple really valuable assets from last year’s team. Two of these guys (Warren Gillis, Josh Cameron) graduated while another, Montenegro born forward Uros Ljeskovic, transferred. Let’s start with the pair of graduating backcourt stars. These two, although alike in stature, were two very different players for the Chanticleers last season. Josh Cameron, the team’s second leading scorer (12.8 points per game) in only 21.8 minutes per game was an instant spark-plug of offense whenever on the floor. However, he only played 21.8 minutes per game for a reason. As solid as the Chanticleers were on offense last season, they were, believe it or not, a defensive-oriented team. They ranked 66th in the nation in points allowed per game last season, while ranking out of the top 100 in that category in 2013-14. One of the differences? Cameron played 27.8 minutes per game in 2013-14. At the same time, Cameron was definitely more of an asset to this team than a detriment. His leadership and play in big games were a huge reason the Chanticleers were able to grab a second straight NCAA berth. The other graduating wing is last year’s leading scorer (and MVP of the team), Warren Gillis. This kid is a warrior: plain and simple. Stats-wise, it was a down year for Gillis. His field goal percentage dropped, as did his scoring and passing numbers. But, like any great leader, Gillis kicked it into overdrive when his team needed him the most. In the Big South final against a surprisingly pesky Winthrop team, Gillis was simply outstanding; scoring 22 points and dishing out 6 assists in 36 minutes of action. Also, he went out with a bang, scoring a team high 22 points in the NCAA Championship game against Wisconsin while shooting 10-19 from the field. If we were basing this simply on stats, the graduation of Gillis (13.4 ppg, 3.2 apg last season) wouldn’t be that painful to the team. However, since he was a leader and respected by everybody both on and off the floor, this is going to be one hard guy to replace. Uros Ljeskovic only averaged 4.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season, but he’s a big guy (6-8, 240 pounds) who demands attention down low. He decided to transfer to Grand Canyon for his final season.
Who’s In:
Although this class doesn’t look great on paper, there is actually a decent amount of talent that can be found in this group of three guys. No that wasn’t a typo, the Chanticleers have three guys coming in for next season. However, all three of those guys are bringing something to the table. Let’s start with the shooting guard Christian Adams. A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, it’s not a far trip for him to get over to Coastal. What Adams brings to the Chanticleers is a bit of a safety net. What I mean by that is Adams has a very, very low chance of being someone that completely, 100% busts. His ceiling is pretty low, but his floor is definitely higher than the average prospect. This is because of his style of play. He’s a terrific outside shooter; he showed that over his high school career. However, shooters aren’t guaranteed not to bust, so what makes Adams different? He knows the game. Watching tape of him, what stands out more than his speed, shooting, and defense is that he knows what he’s doing. He always has his head up, looking for the open guy or open lane. Does he have the athleticism, all-around game, or defensive expertise to dominate D-1 basketball? No. Does he have the necessary skills to become an everyday starter at some point in his career? Absolutely. The second player is big man Josh Coleman. Underrated by scouts throughout his entire high school career, Coleman, like Adams, will be coming to Coastal as an unranked recruit. He probably has a higher ceiling than Adams because of his terrific size (6-10, 210 pounds) and defensive prowess, but he also has a higher chance of busting. This is because he is still relatively raw on the offensive side of the ball. He’s a terrific rebounder and rock solid defender, but he often relied on other players to get him open shots last season at St. Francis High School. The only listed center on the 2015-16 roster, Coleman is either going to become the starter or yield the position to one of the three power forwards on the roster. Either way, he should grow a lot as a player next season and hopefully become something special in the years to come. The final player is the only guy out of the three that could really make an impact for the Chanticleers next season. That is unranked small forward Kevin Holmes Jr. out of Virginia Beach. An unorthodox small forward, Holmes has power forward height (6-8), but is slim and athletic enough (174 pounds) to play the SF position at the college level. Also, he has a terrific outside shot that absolutely terrified high school players in Virginia last season. The only knock on Holmes out there by scouts is that he’s not athletic or strong enough to survive at the next level. And although these are fair criticisms, I believe, with a little work and added strength, this guy could become a 15-17 point scorer by his junior season.

Who to Watch:
Although I firmly believe the three recruits will have some impact on next year’s team, it’s hard to ignore the facts: the only incoming talent this team has are three unranked freshmen. For some, this would be enough to call the upcoming season a throwaway. Not the Chanticleers. They may have lost their top two scorers from last season, but those two guys only amounted for 26.2 points per game, or 36.3% of the team’s overall points from last season. Obviously, this number could be lower; but it could also be a lot higher as well. Out of the returners, two of them (Shivaughn Wiggins, Elijah Wilson) were double digit scorers last season. Wiggins, a rising junior, seems to be the most likely to become the leader of next year’s team. This might be odd considering he’s a junior playing with a lot of seniors, but it’s his style of play that really impressed me last season more than anything. His scoring (10 ppg) and smart shooting from the field (45.5% field goal percentage) was nice, but it was his passing ability that really has me excited to see what he can do in his third season. The 3.3 assists per game aren’t jaw-dropping numbers, but his 2.75 assist-turnover ratio, well, is. If he can stay healthy and continue to improve his passing, 2015-16 could be a really special season for him. The other double digit scoring returner is another rising junior, Elijah Wilson. Wilson had an interesting year in 2014-15. On some levels, it was a huge success. He shot 39.1% from behind the arc, making him one of the most consistently feared perimeter threats in the Big South all year long. However, for anybody that watched him last season, I’m sure they can’t help but be a little disappointed in his change of play. He shot just over 30% from three as a freshman, yet he averaged just under 16 points per game (15.8). He attempted roughly the same amount of threes as he did last season (4.9-5), but he took four more shots per game, most of them from the midrange. And yet in 2014-15, he completely abandoned his midrange game, opting to shoot mainly threes and occasionally slashing (2.6 free throw attempts per game). With two scorers graduating, the position of leading scorer is wide open for Coastal; and Elijah Wilson should be the one to step into the role. The other three notable returners are all senior power forwards. Normally, this would be a bad thing. However, the three (Badou Diagne, Marcus Freeman, Tristian Curtis) split time nicely last season and are likely to do the same thing this year.

Final Projection:
Although the battle of the Big South ended up being a surprisingly close one last season, that is not likely to be the case this year. With a ton of seniors graduating from teams such as High Point, Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb, it figures to be a two team race for the title this year. That race of course being between Coastal Carolina and Winthrop-another team returning quite a bit of talent from last year-for the automatic bid. Coastal has the returners to make it happen, but the difference maker for them is going to be the production from the incoming freshmen. Most notably, unorthodox small forward Kevin Holmes Jr. is going to have to come to play. He’s a guy that could easily play more than 20 minutes per game this year and could learn a few things along the way from some of the older guys. Overall, with a solid batch of returning talent and a great head coach, the Chanticleers should once again be a very relevant team on the mid-major scale.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Shivaughn Wiggins, Junior, Guard, 10 points per game
Elijah Wilson, Junior, Guard, 11.3 points per game
Michael Enanga, Senior, Forward, 2.6 points per game
Badou Diagne, Senior, Forward, 9.5 points per game
Marcus Freeman, Senior, Forward, 5.4 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.7 (64th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.4 (66, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.0 (130, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.6 (39, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.7 (128, 7)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.0 (91, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.0 (182, 7)
Rebound Margin: 8.0 (7, 1)
Assists Per Game: 11.3 (263, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.7 (93, 3)


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