#118 Kent State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Kent State Golden Flashes

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #118
Conference Rank: #4 MAC

Kent State Team Page#118 Kent State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Kent State Basketball Tickets

Kent State is another good, but not good enough team. I say not good “enough” because although the Golden Flashes have appeared in the CIT for three of the past four years, they’ve yet to make the NIT or NCAA Tournament under fifth year head coach Rob Senderoff. Unfortunately for the Golden Flashes and their fans, it’s not going to get much easier in 2015-16. Although they are returning quite a bit of talent from last year’s team, the Mid-American Conference is back on the upswing. With teams like Toledo, Buffalo and, of course, Kent State sporting consistently good squads, this is now a very tough mid-major conference. The Golden Flashes should be in the mix yet again, but I don’t think they have enough depth to take out some of the tougher teams in crunch time.

2014-15 Record: 23-12, 12-6
2014-15 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Rob Senderoff
Coach Record: 81-54 at Kent State, 81-54 overall

Who’s Out:
Kent State had four double digit scorers on last year’s roster. In 2015-16, only one of those four players (Jimmy Hall) is returning. The other three (Devaraeux Manley, Kris Brewer, Derek Jackson) all graduated. Obviously, for a team that played only six guys more than 20 minutes per game on average, losing three double digit scorers is a lot to swallow. And by digging deeper into the numbers, it doesn’t get any better. The three departing players listed above combined for 52.5% of the team’s overall points (66) and all averaged on the better half of 29 minutes per game. Manley, the leading scorer out of the trio, and second leading scorer on the team, was a two year starter for the Flashes. A terrific outside shooter (39.7% last season), he wasn’t afraid to put up plenty of tries from downtown (8.2 attempts per game last year). Not surprisingly, that had a negative impact on his field goal percentage (39.9%). Obviously the one-dimensional style of play was aggravating at times for Senderoff and his crew, but there’s no denying Manley did more to help his team than hurt it. His leadership both on and off the floor will be missed. The second departing senior, Kris Brewer, was a three year starter with the Flashes. Brewer had a very interesting career at Kent State; and it wasn’t all good. In his first season, he shot 45.8% from the field, 42.4% from downtown, and averaged 9.1 points per game. In his second season, the points rose (11.8) but the other two percentages (38.1%; 31.5%) dropped considerably. And, in his final season, the points (10.6) and field goal percentage (36.9%) dropped once again, while the three point percentage moved up a bit (32.1%). Although this inconsistent play frustrated fans, coaches, and teammates alike; the numbers didn’t lie: Brewer was one of the best scorers on the team for three seasons and did enough of the other things (2.8 apg, 4.3 free throw attempts per game) to make him very valuable. The final departing senior is Derek Jackson. Jackson, the lowest scorer out of the three (10.6 ppg) was, however, the most versatile. The point guard of the Golden Flashes in 2014-15, Jackson used his superior court vision (3.4 apg, 1.5 tpg) to always give his team the edge when the ball was in his hands. He was also a consistent threat from the outside (42.3%) and a fierce on-ball defender (1.7 steals per game). Leading scorer Jimmy Hall returns, but these three guys from last year are going to be sorely missed in next year’s rotation.

Who’s In:
Usually a pretty active shopper in the transfer and JUCO markets, it should come as no surprise that Rob Senderoff once again got his fair share of both for 2015-16. He added two transfers and two JUCO players to his roster for 2015-16. What is surprising, however, is how many freshmen he brought in to compliment the transfers. Three low level recruits may not look like a whole lot on paper, but these three guys could be relied on heavily in the upcoming years. Let’s look at the JUCO transfers first. Both of these guys (Marvin Jones, Deon Edwin) are unranked and redshirted last season. Marvin Jones, a junior from Chicago, is a big time athlete down low. He has great height (6-10) but is a little lanky (205 pounds) and still a bit limited offensively. However, he’s a high level rebounder that can also defend pretty effectively inside as well. He may still need one more year to develop into a threat on both sides of the ball, but he’s ready to make a difference next year on defense. The other JUCO transfer is junior guard Deon Edwin from the British Virgin Islands. Edwin is a prototypical wing, meaning he can shoot, defend well, and is an above average athlete. Edwin wasn’t particularly effective in JUCO, and will need to add a driving aspect to his game if he hopes to find success in the Golden Flashes rotation. Now moving on to the other two transfers. Xavier Pollard, a two year starter with the Maine Black Bears, proved to be a rock solid point guard. In his junior season with the Bears, he averaged 14.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game while shooting over 46% from the field. The MAC is an obvious step-up from the America East, but Pollard is a guy that has enough natural athleticism and skill to still be effective. The other transfer is actually a graduate transfer from Cornell. Galal Cancer, a two year starter at Cornell, will be looking to help out the Golden Flashes in a positive way next season. If nothing else, Cancer will add another solid outside shooter (38.1% three point percentage last season) to come off the bench and stretch the defense. He averaged 9.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and shot 39.2% from the field last year. The final three recruits (Jalen Avery, Rosel Hurley, Jaylin Walker) are all incoming freshmen. Avery is a heads-up, smart, pass-first point guard out of Covington, Kentucky. He has a good attitude, always hustles, and is a big-time scorer at the point guard spot. Rosel Hurley is a two-star wing from Cleveland. He’s a little lanky, but is athletic enough and talented enough to make up for it. He’s also a lights out three point shooter. The final recruit is Jaylin Walker from Romulus, Michigan. Walker is athletic, but is nowhere near as offensively gifted as Rosel Hurley, at least not yet. With a nice mix of players from each of the three major markets (JUCO, transfer, high school), Senderoff is most likely going to find at least a couple everyday players out of the bunch.

Who to Watch:
The obvious, short answer here would be junior Jimmy Hall. An All-MAC first teamer last season, Hall was one of the most complete and solid players in the entire country last season (15.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 53.2% FGP). Athletic, strong, and most importantly: talented, Hall is once again going to be a really, really hard guy to stop in 2015-16. The one area where he could improve a little bit in is his free throw attempts per game, which were hovering just around 4.4 last season. That’s not a bad number by any means, but for someone so athletic, forceful, and tough to match up against down low, that number could rise all the way up to 6-7. He’s not getting a ton of help from returners, but big men Chris Ortiz and Khaliq Spicer are two other experienced, smart, big players down low to help shoulder the burden. Ortiz averaged 6.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season, while Spicer averaged 5.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest (while shooting 51.5% from the field). Transfers Xavier Pollard and Galal Cancer will be fun to watch in the backcourt and Kellon Thomas is back from injury, but this is Jimmy Hall’s team, and it should be a pleasure to watch him rip through the MAC (again) in 2015-16 if he can stay healthy.

Final Projection:
The departing of three double digit guards from a year ago would doom some teams. Kent State is not one of them. With one of the best mid-major players in the nation returning for another season and a few transfers ready to show their stripes, it’s certainly not going to be a down year for the Golden Flashes. Jimmy Hall could be a 20+ ppg scorer in 2015-16, while Xavier Pollard showcased his all-around abilities in his three seasons with the Bears. The lack of backcourt experience at this level will hurt the team’s chances of taking the MAC title, but they have enough talent to once again stay very much alive in the MAC hunt for the entire year.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Xavier Pollard, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Galal Cancer, Senior, Guard, 9.6 points per game (Cornell)
Chris Ortiz, Senior, Forward, 6.3 points per game
Jimmy Hall, Junior, Forward, 15.9 points per game
Khaliq Spicer, Senior, Center, 5.6 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.1 (204th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.9 (76, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.7 (214, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.9 (81, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (90, 5)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.1 (90, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.8 (286, 12)
Rebound Margin: 1.2 (142, 5)
Assists Per Game: 10.5 (302, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (58, 2)


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