#138 East Tennessee State Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

East Tennessee State Buccaneers
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #138
Conference Rank: #2 SoCon
Coach Steve Forbes had a successful debut season with East Tennessee State. The Buccaneers went 14-4 in the Southern Conference and made a nice run to the conference tournament finals. Unfortunately for ETSU, they ran into Chattanooga, a team they lost to twice during the regular season. That loss sent the Buccaneers to the Vegas 16 tournament, where they beat Louisiana Tech before falling to Oakland. But that was a great step for bigger and better things to come under Coach Forbes. However, there are some key pieces to replace, so that big step forward will not likely come this season.
2015-16 Record: 24-12, 14-4
2015-16 Postseason: Vegas 16
Coach: Steve Forbes
Coach Record: 24-12 at ETSU, 24-12 overall
Who’s Out:
Ge’Lawn Guyn went from a low scoring point guard at Cincinnati to one of the better shooters and scorers in the country during his one season at ETSU. He averaged 18.6 points per game and knocked down an amazing 42.2 percent of his 223 three-point attempts. More than just the big numbers, Guyn was clutch and made a ton of huge shots for the Buccaneers. Deuce Bello and Lester Wilson are also gone and those two helped out Guyn when it came to outside shooting. Abednego Lufile and Petey McClain were in the regular rotation as well. McClain started 31 games and averaged nearly 20 minutes per game, but averaged just 2.5 points per game. He did dish out 2.6 assists per contest and always played tough defense though. Nigel Holley, Stetson Moore and Toriano Stokes saw limited action last season and are not returning to the team.
Who’s In:
Coach Forbes hopes to strike gold again with a couple more Division I transfers. Hanner Mosquera-Perea sat out last year after spending his first three collegiate seasons with Indiana. During his junior year, the 6-9, 225 pound forward averaged 6.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 blocks with the Hoosiers. Mosquera-Perea is an athletic big man who has the potential to dominate the SoCon. Tevin Glass followed Coach Forbes from Northwest Florida State to Wichita State and now to East Tennessee State. Last year Glass averaged 2.1 points and 1.1 rebounds in 19 games with the Shockers. At 6-8 and 205 pounds, he is another big body with a lot of experience. Speaking of experience, four junior college transfers will try and crack the regular rotation this year too. David Burrell will join Mosquera-Perea and Glass in the frontcourt, while the backcourt adds Devontavius Payne, Julian Walters and Jermaine Long. Walters was a first team NJCAA All-American last year while playing at North Dakota State College of Science and Long was one of the top scorers at the junior college level last season. Those two will certainly help replace the shooting lost with Guyn, Bello and Wilson. Freshmen Jason Williams and Shemar Johnson will likely have to bide their time with this group. However, Johnson is a big 6-6 wing and size on the wing is something this team does need.
Who to Watch:
Despite the losses in the backcourt, ETSU does return three very dangerous guards. T.J. Cromer was second on the team in scoring to Guyn, averaging 14.9 points per game. He also dished out a team high 3.1 assists and added a steal per game as well. Cromer may not be able to reach the outside shooting efficiency that Guyn provided last season, but he is a superb outside shooter. A.J. Merriweather is an experienced senior who averaged 7.1 points per game last year. His junior season was not his best and he has already proven that he is more than capable of being a big time scorer. He is also tough and has a great motor. If ETSU wants to play small, the 6-2 Merriweather is the type of player who can get in the face of taller opponents and play tough defense. Desonta Bradford may be the most interesting player on the team. He did not start a single game as a sophomore, but he was playing very well down the stretch. His 7.6 points and 2.0 assist averages do not tell the entire story. By March, Bradford was attacking the basket and finishing or finding his teammates. He also was on fire from long range and ended up shooting 21-of-47 from long range despite a very slow start.
Final Projection:
Speaking of players who got better over the course of last season, seven-footer Peter Jurkin had some great outings and will battle it out with the newcomers for minutes in the frontcourt. Isaac Banks started 30 games last season and averaged 6.1 points and a team high 6.0 rebounds. At 6-7 and 220 pounds, ETSU now has bigger options in the paint, and perhaps more talented options too. But Banks no longer has to be the main man in the post and that is a good thing for East Tennessee State. The rest of the SoCon will have trouble with ETSU now that the offensive focus could shift to the frontcourt. At the least, the Buccaneers should be a very balanced team with offensive weapons all over the floor. Replacing a player like Guyn is never an easy thing to do, but expect this group to attack from everywhere on the floor and be very dangerous even if their outside shots are not falling or if they cannot find a guy like Guyn to put up 20 points. They do not need a player like that with so much potential scoring prowess at every position.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Desonta Bradford, Junior, Guard, 7.6 points per game
T.J. Cromer, Junior, Guard, 14.9 points per game
A.J. Merriweather, Senior, Guard, 7.1 points per game
Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Senior, Forward, DNP last season
Peter Jurkin, Senior, Center, 5.3 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.1 (55th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 74.6 (246, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.1 (64, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.4 (167, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.2 (71, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.8 (39, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.1 (128, 7)
Rebound Margin: -0.2 (198, 6)
Assists Per Game: 12.4 (231, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.8 (190, 5)