#82 Louisiana Tech Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview


Louisiana Tech Bulldogs


2017-2018 Overall Rank: #82

Conference Rank: #2 Conference USA

Louisiana Tech Logo
Louisiana Tech finished last season with a 14-4 record in Conference USA, finishing second to only Middle Tennessee. The Bulldogs were upset in the conference tournament though by Marshall and did not end up in a postseason tournament of any sort. The return of Jacobi Boykins will give the Bulldogs a great scorer to build around. The big 6-6 guard turned into a great shooter last season, connecting on 40.8 percent of his 218 attempts from beyond the arc. Of course he will also use his big frame to attack the basket and that makes Boykins extremely difficult to defend. After averaging 14.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.0 steals as a junior, Boykins is poised for a huge senior season.
2016-17 Record: 23-10, 14-4
2016-17 Postseason: None
Coach: Eric Konkol
Coach Record: 46-20 at Louisiana Tech, 46-20 overall
Who’s Out:
The big losses are in the frontcourt where starters Erik McCree and Omar Sherman are gone. McCree led Louisiana Tech with 17.7 points and 8.9 rebounds during his senior season. The 6-8 forward was a versatile scorer who could stretch the defense with his three-point shooting and use his strength to score in the paint. Omar Sherman spent one season with Louisiana Tech after brief stops at Miami (FL) and a junior college. He started every game beside McCree and tallied 9.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. He complimented McCree well and could have returned as the star of the frontcourt for his senior season, but opted to hit the professional ranks instead. On the perimeter, Qiydar Davis, Da’Shawn Robinson and Luke Walker will not return. Davis is leaving as a graduate transfer. He barely played the last two seasons while suffering through injuries, but is a very good player when healthy.
Who’s In:
Four of Coach Eric Konkol’s six newcomers will help fill the holes in the frontcourt. The most important for now are junior college transfers Harrison Curry and Kyle McKinley. Curry spent two seasons at Pensacola State and is a versatile 6-8 forward who can stretch the defense with his outside shooting ability. McKinley is a tough 6-10 forward who can get up and down the floor and block some shots. JaColby Pemberton redshirted last season and the 6-6, 180 pound small forward is a very promising player. He still may need to add some weight, but Pemberton should start to show his promise in 2017-2018. Incoming freshman Anthony Duruji is a superb athlete who will have plenty of highlight reel dunks before his collegiate days are done. The backcourt adds Amorie Archibald and Exavian Christon, both of whom will have time to develop their games. However, Christon is a very talented scorer and could add some offensive firepower off the bench as a freshman.
Who to Watch:
Along with Boykins, the Louisiana Tech backcourt returns DaQuan Bracey, Derric Jean and Jalen Harris. Bracey, a 5-11 speedster, had an amazing freshman campaign. He dished out 5.8 assists per game, while committing just 1.7 turnovers. Bracey is only going to get better as a sophomore. But he is also a good scorer who averaged 9.1 points per game. Bracey is not going to be a prolific outside shooter, but he is enough of a threat to hit the long ball to keep the opposition honest. Jean can handle the ball too and dished out 3.3 assists on top of his 8.2 points. Jean saw his three-point percentage drop to 32.9 percent as a sophomore, but he is a capable all-around scorer. Harris was the team’s third leading scorer last season, averaging 10.9 points per game. The 6-4 guard thrived in the up-tempo style of play and should be in for a very good sophomore season, whether he cracks the starting lineup or spends another year coming in off the bench.
Final Projection:
With the backcourt in great shape, the key for Louisiana Tech will be replacing McCree and Sherman in the frontcourt. The newcomers will fill some of that production, but the hopes are high for juniors Jy’lan Washington and Jonah White. Washington is a thin 6-8, 190 pound forward who is becoming a better shooter. White, a seven-footer, averaged 4.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks as a sophomore in 17.2 minutes per game. He may not see a massive increase in minutes, but White should be able to boost his scoring output and remain a shot blocking threat. Even with the turnover in the frontcourt, Louisiana Tech should again be among the best teams in Conference USA. And with just one senior on the roster, the expectations will be even higher in 2018-2019.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
DaQuan Bracey, Sophomore, Guard, 9.1 points per game
Derric Jean, Junior, Guard, 8.2 points per game
Jacobi Boykins, Senior, Guard, 14.7 points per game
Harrison Curry, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Jonah White, Junior, Center, 4.0 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.5 (76th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.8 (49, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.7 (62, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.4 (51, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (131, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.1 (121, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.9 (146, 6)
Rebound Margin: 3.5 (70, 4)
Assists Per Game: 16.5 (19, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.3 (106, 6)