#97 Tulsa Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview


Tulsa Golden Hurricane

2017-2018 Overall Rank: #97
Conference Rank: #8 American

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Tulsa followed up their 2016 NCAA Tournament appearance with a 15-17 record in 2016-17. The Golden Hurricane had a completely new-look team last season, and an 8-10 conference record was nothing for them to be ashamed of. This season, Tulsa only loses two major contributors from last season. Having some consistency from last season will be extremely helpful for Frank Haith to get his team back to the postseason. Tulsa returns four starters and their sixth man, all of whom scored more than six points per game in 2016. After a transition year, Tulsa should be back in position to compete in the American Athletic Conference.
2016-17 Record: 15-17, 8-10
2016-17 Postseason:
Frank Haith
Coach Record:
58-40 at Tulsa, 263-169 overall
Who’s Out:
Tulsa loses just two significant contributors from last season’s team. Pat Birt has graduated from the program after two solid seasons in Tulsa. Birt was the team’s third leading scorer two years ago when the Golden Hurricane made the NCAA Tournament. Birt was expected to take a big step forward as a senior leader last season, but instead saw his efficiency and production decline. Birt averaged just 8.8 points per game on 31% shooting from field in 2016-17 after putting up 12 points per game on 37% shooting in 2015-16. The second of the two key departures is TK Edogi, who decided to become a graduate transfer after playing one season in Tulsa. Edogi averaged 4.6 points while appearing in every game last season, but he played just 11.5 minutes per game. Seldom-used freshmen Travis Atson and Joseph Battle both also elected to transfer after one season with the program. Atson appeared in 22 games, but saw only 6.1 minutes per game. Battle appeared in 14 games and scored a total of 13 points. Coach’s son Corey Haith has graduated after playing just 2.9 minutes per game in 14 appearances last season.
Who’s In:
Curran Scott will be eligible this season after transferring in from Charlotte last year. Scott scored 10.5 points per game as a freshman at Charlotte and should contribute right away for the Golden Hurricane. DaQuan Jeffries joins the team after spending last season in junior college. Jeffries played at Oral Roberts two years ago and averaged 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds. Jeffries, a 6-5 guard, showed scoring potential at Oral Roberts, including a 21 point performance against Omaha. Frank Haith also added a couple freshmen to his roster this season. Three-star guard Darien Jackson out of Kansas City joins the Golden Hurricane after winning a state title as a high school senior. Three-star guard Elijah Joiner also joins Tulsa this season after committing back in October 2016. Joiner can score in bunches as he put up a 40-point performance this season at Curie High School. Tulsa also added Jeriah Horne, a transfer from Nebraska, but he won’t be eligible until the 2018-19 season.
Who to Watch:
Tulsa returns five of their top six scorers from last season, including four starters. Leading that group will be senior Junior Etou, who led the team with 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Etou is a 6-8 forward who transferred in from Rutgers last season and shot 49% from the field, including a lights out 42% from three. He will need to keep up that level of efficiency this season. Corey Henderson Jr. and Jaleel Wheeler will also be seniors this season. Henderson was the sixth man last season and put up 8.7 points per game in 22.4 minutes. With Birt’s graduation, Henderson will likely become the starting shooting guard. Wheeler started every game he played but one last season, and he was the team’s second leading scorer with 9.3 points per game. Wheeler is an all-around forward who also averaged 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists, but he needs to improve his 29.5% three-point shooting. Two other starters, Sterling Taplin and Martins Igbanu, are also back this season. Taplin started every game but two last season and was third on the team in scoring with 9.2 points per game. Taplin is a floor general at point guard for Tulsa, leading the team in assists with 3.8 per game while also shooting 40% from three. Igbanu started the last 13 games of the season at center and saw his production rise as the season went along. Igbanu scored in double-digits in seven of those 13 games and should continue to improve into his sophomore season.
Final Projection:
Tulsa gets a good amount of production back from last season and that consistency should benefit the Golden Hurricane in 2017-18. Four starters and five of the top six scorers are back along with two transfers who should be able to contribute right away. Role players like Geno Artison, Will Magnay and Lawson Korita are also all back, adding to the familiarity of the team. After making the NCAA Tournament two years ago, Tulsa went through a rebuilding year in 2016-17 and finished under .500. This season, the Golden Hurricane should be ready to compete for a postseason berth yet again.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Sterling Taplin, Junior, Guard, 9.2 points per game

Corey Henderson, Senior, Guard, 8.7 points per game
Jaleel Wheeler, Senior, Forward, 9.3 points per game
Junior Etou, Senior, Forward, 12.6 points per game
Martins Igbanu, Sophomore, Center, 6.3 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.4 (293rd in nation, 7th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 70.3 (121, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 41.9 (296, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.4 (164, 10)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.3 (179, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.3 (210, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.9 (93, 1)
Rebound Margin: 1.6 (128, 4)
Assists Per Game: 11.4 (295, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.8 (314, 10)