#116 Drake Men's Basketball Preview

Drake Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #116
Conference Rank: #6 Missouri Valley

Drake Logo
Drake Team Page

2010-11: 13-18, 7-11
2010-11 postseason: none
Coach: Mark Phelps (34-53 at Drake, 34-53 overall)

Coach Mark Phelps’ fourth year at Drake could be the most important one yet. The youth and inexperience excuse is no longer viable. This is a talented team and they need to start winning. Rayvonte Rice was a big time recruit last year and it is possible that he may not stick around if the Bulldogs do not start showing some promise. Rice, a 6-4 wing, led the team with 13.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals. He even dished out 1.6 assists per game. Rice will have to carry this group for now.

Who’s Out:
Ryan Wedel will be greatly missed. He was the one perimeter player who could consistently knock down the long ball. Rice put up plenty of long balls, but connected on just 29.5 percent of those attempts. Wedel hit 40.3 percent of his. Finding another shooter, and scorer for that matter, to replace Wedel will be critical.

Who’s In:
There are certainly a lot of options among the newcomers. Redshirt freshman Karl Madison could see some minutes at the point. Small forward Jeremy Jeffers, another redshirt freshman, can play at the small forward or power forward spot. The trio of incoming freshmen is led by 6-5 wing Judd Welfringer. Welfringer is the one newcomer who could emerge as a solid role player right away. Lincoln Vorba and walk-on Mitch McLaughlin will need some more time.

Who to Watch:
A couple returning players will help out the group on the perimeter. Kurt Alexander had a slightly disappointing junior season after transferring in from the junior college ranks, but he could emerge as the starting point guard or the starting two guard. Either way, Drake needs Alexander to step up his game and become a more consistent player. Frank Wiseler started ten games at the point last year before going down with an injury. He is not much of a scorer, but Wiseler can take care of the ball and that is what the Bulldogs need from their point guard. If Wiseler can keep this team under control, Rice will be able to do enough scoring for the rest of the backcourt.

Final Projection:
The frontcourt is in good hands with Ben Simons and Seth VanDeest leading the way. Simons, a 6-8 junior, is a quality shooter who can stretch the defense with his three-point shooting ability. VanDeest is the bruiser under the basket. At 6-11 and 244 pounds, VanDeest is a major presence under the basket on both ends of the floor. He is turning into a quality interior scorer, but needs to help out this team on the glass more often. With Aaron Hawley, Jordan Clarke, Reece Uhlenhoop and Kraidon Woods all returning, the Bulldogs have a ton of experience in the frontcourt. All four of those players are either 6-8 or 6-9. If Drake could turn one of the frontcourt players into a small forward, it would help, but none of them really have the foot speed to defend most opposing small forwards in the Missouri Valley Conference. That leaves the backcourt quite slim on experienced depth, but it does leave a ton of options in the frontcourt. If Rice can start hitting the long ball and some of the newcomers can pick up 15 to 20 minutes per game, this could be a surprisingly strong Drake team.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Frank Wiseler, Senior, Guard, 3.0 points per game
Kurt Alexander, Senior, Guard, 5.6 points per game
Rayvonte Rice, Sophomore, Guard, 13.8 points per game
Ben Simons, Junior, Forward, 8.1 points per game
Seth VanDeest, Junior, Center, 8.8 points per game

Check out another story about Drake basketball