#47 Illinois State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Illinois State Redbirds

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #47
Conference Rank: #2 Missouri Valley

Illinois State Team Page#47 Illinois State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Illinois State Basketball Tickets

Illinois State did not get nearly as much credit as they deserved last season. When the Missouri Valley Conference got any attention on a national level, it was because of Wichita State and Northern Iowa. The Redbirds ended up tied for third in the conference behind those two and recorded 22 total wins. They won a game in the NIT and have enough weapons returning to be better in 2015-2016. And with Northern Iowa in rebuilding mode, if there is a squad that can challenge Wichita State for a MVC title or a team that can join the Shockers as a legitimate threat to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, it is the Redbirds.

2014-15 Record: 22-13, 11-7
2014-15 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Dan Muller
Coach Record: 58-44 at Illinois State, 58-44 overall

Who’s Out:
Daishon Knight is a big loss for the Redbirds. The guard averaged a team high 14.3 points and added 2.4 assists per game. But what makes his graduation manageable is the fact that Coach Dan Muller has another point guard with plenty of experience on the roster. And there a couple of shooters who could help in the scoring department. Bobby Hunter is not around to be one of those shooters anymore though. Perhaps the bigger hit to the team is the transfer of Reggie Lynch to Minnesota. The 6-10, 255 pound center led the MVC in blocked shots and was a pretty good interior scorer and rebounder too. Lynch’s presence in the paint may take a little time to replace and it may never truly be replaced this season. The frontcourt also loses John Jones and Will Ransom.

Who’s In:
Because of the transfer of Lynch, the frontcourt newcomers will have to be ready to contribute major minutes. Nick Banyard is a power forward who is certainly ready to contribute. The 6-8, 225 pounder spent two seasons at New Mexico where he played sparingly. However, Banyard is a very talented player and the change in scenery should do him well. Quintin Brewer, a graduate transfer from Bethune-Cookman, averaged 9.2 point and 7.0 rebounds for the Wildcats last season. He may not be a huge scoring threat in the MVC, but he can rebound. Incoming freshmen Roland Griffin, Elvis Harvey and David Ndiaye are all forwards or centers who will be given an opportunity to provide depth, but this team should not need them this year. Javaka Thompson, Keyshawn Evans and Matt Hein are the newcomers on the perimeter. Thompson is a walk-on transfer from Knox College and the expectations are not very high for Matt Hein right away either. Keyshawn Evans, on the other hand, has the talent to make an impact right away. He is a point guard who can make things happen whether it be with his quickness attacking the basket and finding his teammates or scoring himself. For now, he should make a quality backup point guard.  

Who to Watch:
DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell will turn into the new leader of the Redbirds. The 6-5 senior could stand to shoot a little more consistently, but he still averaged 12.8 points per game. He also led the team with 5.6 rebounds. That is pretty impressive for a 6-5 guard. Paris Lee will be a leader too. He started beside Knight last season and was basically the primary ballhandler on the team while Knight worried more about scoring. Lee dished out 3.6 assists per game and added 6.8 points. He will not need to score too much more than that this season. As long as he continues to play his brutally tough perimeter defense, find his teammates and avoid turnovers, Lee will put Illinois State in a great position to win games. Junior Tony Wills and senior Justin McCloud are not going to light it up, but they are both solid guards who can provide depth for Coach Muller, who did go ten deep last year.

Final Projection:
Perhaps the most important players this season will be Deontae Hawkins and MiKyle McIntosh. The sophomore forwards are both athletic and brimming with potential. Hawkins averaged 7.4 points and 5.2 rebounds and he can hit three-pointers relatively consistently. McIntosh did not score quite as much, but he is tougher in the paint. After showing so much promise as freshmen, Hawkins and McIntosh are ready to blossom into stars. If that happens, not only will this be a team that has the athleticism, size and toughness to give Wichita State a run for their money, but they could find themselves in the NCAA Tournament as well.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Paris Lee, Junior, Guard, 6.8 points per game
DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, Senior, Guard, 12.8 points per game
Deontae Hawkins, Sophomore, Forward, 7.4 points per game
MiKyle McIntosh, Sophomore, Forward, 5.8 points per game
Nick Banyard, Junior, Forward, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.1 (153rd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.0 (57, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.5 (170, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.4 (98, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.1 (206, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.4 (168, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.4 (96, 5)
Rebound Margin: 4.2 (51, 2)
Assists Per Game: 11.7 (246, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.8 (206, 8)


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