#126 Kent State Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Kent State Golden Flashes
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #126
Conference Rank: #4 Mid-American
Kent State suffered through an up and down 2015-2016 campaign. And it certainly ended on a down note with the Golden Flashes losing four of their last five games, including a home defeat against Bowling Green in their MAC Tournament opener. A key injury to Xavier Pollard made it difficult for Kent State to compete in conference play, but they still managed to win ten games. This was also a pretty deep team last year with ten players seeing relatively regular minutes. Half of those guys are gone, but as long as Jimmy Hall is on the floor, the Golden Flashes are a dangerous team. Hall, a 6-8, 235 pound senior, led the team with 16.4 points and 7.9 rebounds. Hall has had some great seasons with Kent State and his senior year should be his best yet.
2015-16 Record: 19-13, 10-8
2015-16 Postseason: none
Coach: Rob Senderoff
Coach Record: 100-69 at Kent State, 100-69 overall
Who’s Out:
This time around Kent State will be prepared to play without Pollard. In 22 games last year, the 6-4 guard averaged 11.6 points per game. He was not a prolific shooter, but Pollard could take care of the ball and attack the basket. The backcourt will also have to get by without Kellon Thomas. Although not always consistent, Thomas was the team’s most prolific outside shooter and second best scorer. Galal Cancer played a key role in the backcourt during his senior season as well. He was mostly a shooter, but Cancer started 21 games. The losses in the frontcourt are perhaps even more significant. Chris Ortiz and Khaliq Spicer teamed up very nicely with Hall. Ortiz was a big, tough forward who could step out and knock down some mid-range jumpers. Spicer was an even bigger presence in the paint and led the team with 1.8 blocks per game.
Who’s In:
After Hall, Kent State has no returning frontcourt players so Coach Rob Senderoff had to go out and get some experienced big men. He got a couple with junior college transfers Adonis De La Rosa and Leo Edwards. De La Rosa spent one season sitting on the sidelines at St. John’s before hitting the junior college ranks. At 7-0 and 280 pounds, he is the big body this team needs to compliment Hall in the paint. Edwards played at Louisiana Tech before heading to Santa Fe College in Florida. The frontcourt also adds incoming freshman Danny Pippen and redshirt freshman small forward Alonzo Walker. It may have been helpful to add another big body to the roster, but Kent State did get a couple guys who at least sort of have some Division I experience and that is very important when trying to fill a hole on the roster. The backcourt adds quite a few new faces as well and it will be tough for freshmen like Rosel Hurley and Mitch Peterson to crack the regular rotation right away. Junior college transfers Kevin Zabo and Jerrelle DeBerry and Duquesne transfer Desmond Ridenour will likely make a bigger impact. Zabo, a point guard who spent time at San Diego State as a freshman, is particularly important with the transfer of Thomas.
Who to Watch:
There will be a lot of competition for minutes in the backcourt. Jaylin Walker is coming off of a promising freshman campaign in which he averaged 7.7 points per game. He should turn into one of the better shooters on the team and Kent State will need somebody to knock down shots in order to free up space for Hall in the paint. Deon Edwin is not much of a scorer, but the experienced senior could be a solid shooting option if he looks for his shot more often. Edwin started 20 games last season, but managed just 6.0 points per game. Whether he is scoring more or not, Edwin’s experience and defense will be very valuable to this team. Jalen Avery did not see much playing time as a freshman, but he can score and handle the ball. With continued development, Avery has the potential for a breakout sophomore season.
Final Projection:
There are quite a few questions on this roster, but there are even more potential answers. Point guard could be an issue, but the addition of Zabo should ease some of those concerns. There are questions in the frontcourt too, but between De La Rosa, Edwards and Pippen, Coach Senderoff should be able to find somebody who can play beside Hall. There are some decent shooters with Walker and Edwin leading the way and more options with players like DeBerry and Ridenour. It can be tough in the MAC to build around a single player, but Hall is a great player to build around. There is enough talent in the backcourt to find a double digit scorer or two and enough quality options in the frontcourt to at least find a rebounder and shot blocker to do enough to compliment Hall.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Kevin Zabo, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Jaylin Walker, Sophomore, Guard, 7.7 points per game
Desmond Ridenour, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Jimmy Hall, Senior, Forward, 16.4 points per game
Adonis De La Rosa, Sophomore, Center, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.8 (152nd in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 72.4 (189, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.6 (146, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.3 (224, 11)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.8 (289, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.8 (257, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.3 (239, 11)
Rebound Margin: 4.0 (55, 2)
Assists Per Game: 11.7 (275, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.8 (94, 5)