#68 Georgia State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Georgia State Panthers

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #68
Conference Rank: #1 Sun Belt

Georgia State Team Page#68 Georgia State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Georgia State Basketball Tickets

Georgia State was the Cinderella story from last season’s NCAA Tournament. Guard RJ Hunter hit a game-winning three pointer to cap off a 12-point comeback victory over Baylor in the second round of the tournament, capturing the attention of the college basketball world in the process. Last year’s jubilation helped to erase the pain Georgia State felt the year before when the lost in Sun Belt Tournament final after winning the regular season title. This year, Coach Ron Hunter will try and build on last year’s magic with a roster that features a significant amount of turnover.

2014-15 Record: 25-10, 15-5
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Ron Hunter
Coach Record: 87-46 at Georgia State, 361-265 overall

Who’s Out:
The Panthers will be without the core of last year’s team this season as four starters depart. RJ Hunter, a first found draft pick for the Boston Celtics, and Ryan Harrow, graduated, leaving big shoes to fill in the backcourt. The duo were the top two scorers for the Panthers, averaging 19.7 and 18.3 points per game, respectively. No other player on Georgia State’s roster averaged more than 10 points per game last year. Hunter also finished as the team’s second leading rebounder and lead the team in assists, closely followed by Harrow in that category. Replacing the production is doable, albeit a tough task, but replacing Hunter and Harrow’s shooting is highly unlikely. Hunter made 80 three pointers last season and was a constant threat to shoot from anywhere inside half court, as he displayed in the NCAA Tournament, and was almost automatic from the foul line, hitting 87.8 percent of his free throws. Harrow hit just under 40 percent of his three point attempts last season, giving the Panthers two reliable shooters on the perimeter. Guard Ryann Green and forward Curtis Washington also depart. Both players served as role payers on last year’s team, but were key in the success of the team. Green came up big for the Panthers in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 11 points in the team’s 57-56 win over Baylor as Harrow was sidelined with an injury, while Washington gave the Panthers some much needed size up front. He was the lone player taller than 6-foot-8 on the roster.

Who’s In:
A slew of new faces will try and offset the big losses for the Panthers. Coach Hunter will have two high-impact transfers at his disposal. Isaiah Williams, a Samford transfer, figures to see a lot of minutes in the backcourt after winning freshman of the year honors in the Southern Conference two seasons ago. Indiana transfer Jeremy Hollowell should join Williams in the starting lineup. A former top 50 recruit, Hollowell averaged 5.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game at Indiana before transferring. Big things are also expected from redshirt freshman guard Jeff Thomas. Thomas was expected to start last year as a freshman but was deemed ineligible by the NCAA. He’s back this year and is a good bet to start alongside Williams. Hunter also signed a trio of freshman guards in Malik Benlevi, Austin Donaldson and Alario Harris, who could contribute.

Who to Watch:
Senior Markus Crider should have a big role on this Panther team. Crider started all 35 games for Georgia State and is the team’s leading returning scorer, 9.7 points per game, and rebounder, 6.4 rebounds per game. Joining Crider in the rotation will be seniors Kevin Ware and TJ Shipes. A Louisville transfer, Ware played big minutes last year for the first time since his gruesome leg injury during the 2013 NCAA Tournament and provided a big boost for the Panthers. Ware averaged 7.6 points per game last season and came on strong at the end of the year, winning MVP honors of the Sun Belt tournament. Shipes, a 6-foot-7 forward, was a key reserve last season, averaging 4.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, and should stay in the same role again this season. Guard Isaiah Dennis and forwards Jalen Brown and Jordan Session all played in at least 28 games last season and will be in the mix for increased playing time. Reserve guard Carter Cagle is also back after appearing in 12 games a year ago.

Final Projection:
Georgia State has big shoes to fill, but with an influx of talent, there shouldn’t be much of a drop off for the Panthers. Williams, Hollowell and Thomas will have big roles on this team and are capable of teaming with the returners to replace the lost production. There is no bona fide star on this team like last year’s with Hunter, but this team should be a much deeper team. As long as the newcomers mesh well with the returners, Georgia State should return to the NCAA Tournament this season.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Isaiah Williams, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Kevin Ware, Senior, Guard, 7.6 points per game
Jeff Thomas, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Markus Crider, Senior, Forward 9.7 points per game
Jeremy Hollowell, Junior, Forward, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.4 (72nd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.4 (67, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.0 (17, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.8 (16, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.0 (298, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.3 (209, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.5 (64, 1)
Rebound Margin: -1.4 (247, 8)
Assists Per Game: 13.7 (88, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.5 (22, 1)


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