#128 Stephen F. Austin Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #128
Conference Rank: #3 Southland
Stephen F. Austin has dominated the Southland Conference in recent years. It culminated with a perfect 18-0 conference record last year and an upset victory over West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. The Lumberjacks nearly pulled off another upset over Notre Dame to reach the Sweet Sixteen, but fell 76-75 in a thrilling contest. While the era of domination is likely over, for now at least, SFA is not going anywhere. Coach Brad Underwood left and the Lumberjacks brought in Kyle Keller to attempt to keep the good times going. Coach Keller spent the last five years as an assistant at Texas A&M.
2015-16 Record: 28-6, 18-0
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Kyle Keller
Coach Record: 0-0 at Stephen F. Austin, 0-0 overall
Who’s Out:
Losing a successful coach hurts, but losing three starters and the team’s sixth man hurts even more. Thomas Walkup had a brilliant career with the Lumberjacks and ended his senior season averaging a team high 18.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.1 steals. His leadership and production will be impossible to replace. Demetrious Floyd was one of the best pure shooters during his senior season, connecting on 100 three-pointers at a 42.4 percent clip. Trey Pinkey was the team’s glue guy and Clide Geffrard emerged as a superb scorer off of the bench. Jared Johnson was yet another shooter who could spark the offense from the bench. All of those seniors were why SFA was so dangerous last season and replicating their production and leadership is simply not going to happen again any time soon. Also lost are little used Lasani Johnson and JaQuan Smith.
Who’s In:
A trio of junior college transfers will help lessen the loss of all of those seniors. Perhaps the most important is Ivan Canete. The 6-4 guard is a solid shooter and should be able to help fill the massive hole left in the outside shooting department with the departure of Floyd, Geffrard and Johnson. Isaiah Traylor is more of a pure shooter and will likely provide an immediate scoring boost off of the bench. The final junior college transfer is Leon Gilmore, a 6-7, 230 pound forward who had a lot of offers from major programs. His size, athleticism and rebounding ability will be huge for the Lumberjacks. Samuli Nieminen will add some more size to the roster. The 6-7 freshman from Helsinki, Finland has a ton of potential and can stretch the defense with his shooting ability. He is pretty tough too and will do plenty of work on the glass when needed. Wing Kevon Harris and point guard Aaron Augustin are capable of providing quality minutes right away as well.
Who to Watch:
Stephen F. Austin tends to have a couple superstars that lead the way. The hope is Ty Charles, TJ Holyfield and Dallas Cameron are capable of filling that role. Charles, a 6-5 junior, is the team’s top returning scorer at 9.4 points per game. His shooting was inconsistent last season, but Charles has the size to attack the basket effectively and be a productive scorer even when his shot is not falling. Charles had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2015-2016, so expect bigger numbers across the board this season. Holyfield is the big man in the paint and had a very promising freshman campaign, averaging 7.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. With that year of experience, Holyfield is certainly a candidate to step into a leadership role. Cameron made far less of an impact than Charles and Holyfield last season, but he will be tasked with taking over for Pinkney at the point guard spot. Cameron is an experienced senior, but averaged just 3.5 points last year. With SFA rebuilding, Cameron is capable of taking a lot more shots and knocking down quite a few of them.
Final Projection:
This is an important season for the Lumberjacks and an interesting year in the Southland. There are some other good teams out there and all of them are hoping that all of the changes with the Lumberjacks will open up the conference. Stephen F. Austin should at least be competitive with their potential star trio leading the way. With experienced players like CJ Williams and Nathan Bain also returning and a decent class of newcomers, Coach Keller will have success during his first season. It just will not be an 18-0 type of season, but that does not mean another trip to the NCAA Tournament is out of the question.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Dallas Cameron, Senior, Guard, 3.5 points per game
Ivan Canete, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Ty Charles, Junior, Guard, 9.4 points per game
Leon Gilmore, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
TJ Holyfield, Sophomore, Forward, 7.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 80.2 (23rd in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.3 (11, 1)
 Field-Goal Percentage: 47.8 (27, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.8 (190, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.9 (87, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.3 (99, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.5 (45, 3)
Rebound Margin: 2.7 (87, 2)
Assists Per Game: 18.7 (2, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.1 (113, 2)