#124 Pepperdine Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Pepperdine Waves
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #124
Conference Rank: #4 West Coast
Pepperdine underperformed based on the talent they had last year. The expectations were high for the Waves, but they were relatively inconsistent and finished just 18-14 overall. That did earn them a trip to the CBI, but that excursion did not last very long. Coach Marty Wilson has some rebuilding to do, but there is still talent left on this team. The hope is that this year they can overachieve and at least match last year’s win total. With Lamond Murray Jr. leading the way, Pepperdine has every chance of putting up a winning record again in 2016-2017. Murray, a 6-5 wing, led the Waves with 16.6 points per game and added 5.4 rebounds. While Murray can knock down three-pointers consistently, he does most of his damage by attacking the basket.
2015-16 Record: 18-14, 10-8
2015-16 Postseason: CBI
Coach: Marty Wilson
Coach Record: 76-91 at Pepperdine, 76-91 overall
Who’s Out:
Losing Stacy Davis and Jeff Raines is a hit to the frontcourt, but at least those departures were expected. Davis was a great interior player who could hit the glass effectively and score from anywhere on the floor. Raines was once considered a complimentary forward to Davis, but he turned into a very good player in his own right, averaging 12.8 points and 4.9 rebounds during his senior season. Little used Jake Johnson was the only other player who ran out of eligibility, but the Waves have a long list of players not returning for one reason or another. Losing A.J. John and Hakeem Anchrum adds more hurt to the frontcourt. The backcourt loses Shawn Olden, Atif Russell and A.J. Lapray. Lapray, who is retiring due to an ongoing hip injury, would have likely stepped into a starting role. None of those backcourt players saw much action last year, but all could have been impact players if healthy.
Who’s In:
With all of the departures, Coach Wilson needs some of his five man class to contribute. That is especially true in the frontcourt where forwards Craig LeCesne and Nolan Taylor will want to make an impact. LeCesne can stretch the defense with his shooting ability. He can handle the ball and take bigger opponents off of the dribble or post up smaller defenders. That versatility will pay dividends immediately. Taylor is shorter than LeCesne, but he is a tough forward who will mix it up in the paint and hit the glass hard. The backcourt adds point guard Elijah Lee and shooting guards Knox Hellums and Kaijae Yee-Stephens. Yee-Stephens is a major scoring threat and he and Hellums can earn quality minutes as freshmen if they can knock down shots.
Who to Watch:
Despite all the surprising losses, Pepperdine will not have to rely entirely on Murray to do all of the scoring. Jeremy Major and Kameron Edwards were both regular starters last season and will step into even bigger roles this year. Major averaged 9.8 points and 3.8 assists and connected on 41.9 percent of his three-point shots. Major spent some time on the floor with Amadi Udenyi last year and that should happen more in 2016-2017. Udenyi averaged just 4.9 points per game, but he spent a lot of time on the floor and dished out 4.5 assists. Major is a good enough shooter to spend more time off of the ball and Udenyi has proven that he can do some scoring when needed. With Murray joining Major and Udenyi, Pepperdine has a pretty good backcourt. Edwards will be the main threat in the frontcourt after averaging 7.2 points and 4.2 rebounds as a freshman last season. At 6-6 and 215 pounds, Edwards is not an imposing presence in the paint, but he can get to the basket and finish and help out on the glass.
Final Projection:
If Pepperdine wants to compete for a postseason berth, they will need to find depth on the perimeter from the newcomers and a consistent presence in the paint. Ryan Keenan and Nate Gehring are both 6-10 forwards who have waited their turn. Keenan barely saw the floor as a freshman, yet has potential. Gehring redshirted last season, but came on strong at the end of his freshman campaign in 2014-2015. He was not a scoring threat, but his year off did lead to added strength. As long as Edwards can score in the paint, Gehring, Keenan and Taylor should provide enough toughness and size in the paint to keep the opposition honest. Meanwhile, Murray will be asked to do even more scoring this year and he is certainly capable of that. This may not be a very consistent Pepperdine team, but Coach Wilson has enough weapons to pull off some upsets and get his team back to the postseason.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Amadi Udenyi, Senior, Guard, 4.9 points per game
Jeremy Major, Senior, Guard, 9.8 points per game
Lamond Murray, Senior, Guard, 16.6 points per game
Kameron Edwards, Sophomore, Forward, 7.2 points per game
Nate Gehring, Sophomore, Center, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.4 (164th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.5 (162, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.1 (114, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.6 (182, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.1 (333, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.5 (176, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.2 (270, 9)
Rebound Margin: 1.0 (153, 5)
Assists Per Game: 14.3 (108, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (41, 2)