#118 Boise State Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Boise State Broncos
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #118
Conference Rank: #6 Mountain West
The expectations were high for Boise State last season and, after a slow start, it looked like the Broncos could live up to those expectations. They went through December and half of January without losing a game. Then the inconsistencies came and Boise State was up and down the rest of the way. This was still a team with NCAA Tournament hopes in March, but a loss at San Jose State to end the regular season and a defeat at the hands of Colorado State in the Mountain West Tournament put an end to any postseason hopes. For the first time in seemingly forever, Boise State does not have a superstar shooting guard on the roster. However, that does not mean they do not have shooters. Nick Duncan, a 6-8, 265 pound senior, actually led the team in three-pointers made last season, connecting on 35.0 percent of his 177 attempts. Duncan will likely emerge as the Broncos top scoring threat and his ability to stretch out the defense will help usher in some new scoring options that Coach Leon Rice must find to replace his top three scorers from a year ago.
2015-16 Record: 20-12, 11-7
2015-16 Postseason: none
Coach: Leon Rice
Coach Record: 122-75 at Boise State, 122-75 overall
Who’s Out:
James Webb III came out of nowhere to have two very, very productive seasons at Boise State. The 6-9 forward averaged 15.8 points and 9.1 rebounds during his senior season and was even enough of a threat to hit a three-pointer to keep the opposition honest. It was Anthony Drmic who was the player who would take all of the big shots though. His scoring took a step back last year, but Drmic still averaged 13.4 points per game and was a big time scoring threat both inside and out. Mickey Thompson was the guard in the starting lineup that would continuously attack the basket. He boosted his scoring to 11.9 points per game during his senior season. Lonnie Jackson started 21 games and proved to be a very capable shooter during his lone season with the Broncos and Montigo Alford stepped into the starting lineup when Jackson was not starting. That is a lot of production lost and now Boise State is a very young team.
Who’s In:
Of the seven newcomers, none will be more important than Arkansas-Little Rock transfer James Reid. The 6-3 guard from Bend, Oregon spent just one season with UALR after spending a couple years at the junior college level, but during that year he proved that he can be an effective shooting guard at this level. He can handle the ball too and this team does need a backup point guard. Incoming freshman Marcus Dickinson could fill that role as well. Malek Harwell and Alex Hobbs will compete for minutes at shooting guard too. Hobbs was a big time scorer in high school and he could be the next Derrick Marks or Anthony Drmic, but he is still just a freshman and it could take some time before he starts living up to his potential. Fellow freshmen Derrick Alston and Justinian Jessup are big guards who likely need to add some strength before they see too many minutes. Cameron Oluytian should play a bigger role after spending one season in the junior college ranks. He is another big 6-6 guard who offers the team some versatility.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt has plenty of experience to work with. Duncan is the only returning player to start more than seven games last season, but Chandler Hutchison, David Wacker, Zach Haney and Robin Jorch all have some experience. Hutchison is listed as a guard, but the 6-7 junior plays more like a traditional small forward. He can attack the basket, help out on the glass and has enough athleticism to be dangerous defensively. Hutchison is not going to knock down a lot of outside shots, but he proved last season that he can score. Wacker missed most of last season with a foot injury, but he showed potential during his freshman campaign. At 6-10 and 239 pounds, he has the size to be a major force in the paint. Haney and Jorch have that size too. Both are 6-11 sophomores who earned some experience as freshmen. Neither played more than ten minutes per game, but Haney looked like a solid post player in his limited minutes and Jorch started seven contests. The frontcourt has experience and some dangerous scorers with Duncan and Hutchison leading the way.
Final Projection:
The key for Boise State will be finding scorers on the perimeter. The newcomers will handle the shooting guard spot, but it is up to Paris Austin to turn into a leader at the point guard spot after averaging 4.1 points and 1.2 assists during his freshman campaign. Austin came to Boise State with quite a bit of hype. Now he has had his one year to learn behind Thompson and Drmic. It is his time to take over. Austin was inconsistent as a freshman, but that is not a huge surprise. He can score when needed, but ideally Reid and others will be able to take care of the scoring on the perimeter and Austin can concentrate on taking care of the ball and setting up his teammates. If Austin can live up to the hype and the rest of the pieces fall into place, Boise State will be a pretty good team. However, this is also a very young team with just three upperclassmen on the roster. For now, being competitive in the Mountain West and reaching any postseason tournament is a good step for better things to come in the next few years.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Paris Austin, Sophomore, Guard, 4.1 points per game
James Reid, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Chandler Hutchison, Junior, Guard, 6.8 points per game
Nick Duncan, Senior, Forward, 11.6 points per game
David Wacker, Sophomore, Forward, 3.7 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.5 (67th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.2 (130, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.3 (105, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.5 (235, 10)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.2 (73, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.1 (247, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.9 (135, 5)
Rebound Margin: 1.9 (125, 5)
Assists Per Game: 13.4 (162, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.6 (75, 4)