#97 Western Kentucky Men's Basketball 2018-2019 Preview

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
2018-2019 Overall Rank: #97
Conference Rank: #3 Conference USA
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Western Kentucky took a big step forward last year during Coach Rick Stansbury’s second season leading the program. The Hilltoppers finished 14-4 in Conference USA play and earned an at-large bid to the NIT. In the NIT, they beat Boston College, USC and Oklahoma State before finally bowing out against Utah in the semifinals. WKU does lose three of their top four scorers heading into the 2018-2019 campaign, but Coach Stansbury is also building more quality depth and that will begin to pay off this year.
2017-18 Record: 27-11, 14-4
2017-18 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Rick Stansbury
Coach Record: 42-28 at Western Kentucky, 335-193 overall
Key Departed Players:
Justin Johnson, Forward, 15.7 ppg
Darius Thompson, Guard, 13.6 ppg
Dwight Coleby, Forward, 11.1 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Taveion Hollingsworth, Sophomore, Guard, 13.3 ppg
Lamonte Bearden, Senior, Guard, 11.8 ppg
Josh Anderson, Sophomore, Guard, 7.4 ppg
Jake Ohmer, Sophomore, Guard, 5.6 ppg
Marek Nelson, Sophomore, Forward, 2.6 ppg
Moustapha Duagne, Junior, Forward, 0.6 ppg
Key New Players:
Desean Murray, Senior Forward, Grad Transfer from Auburn
Jared Savage, Junior, Guard/Forward, Transfer from Austin Peay
Trevelin Queen, Junior, Guard/Forward, JC Transfer
Matthew Horton, Junior, Forward, JC Transfer
Carson Williams, Sophomore, Forward, Transfer from Northern Kentucky, not eligible
Charles Bassey, Freshman, Center
Jeremiah Gambrell, Freshman, Guard
Tolu Smith, Freshman, Forward
Dalano Banton, Freshman, Guard
Lamonte Bearden and Taveion Hollingsworth return to start in the backcourt once again. Bearden averaged 11.8 points per game and dished out 3.4 assists. He does a very good job of attacking the basket and finishing himself or finding a teammate. Hollingsworth averaged 13.3 points as a freshman and proved to be a very dangerous scorer from anywhere on the floor. Josh Anderson will likely step into a starting role this year after providing much of the backcourt depth during his freshman campaign. The big 6-6 guard should fill in nicely beside Hollingsworth and Bearden. The frontcourt has more new faces, but the hopes are high that graduate transfer Desean Murray and incoming freshman Charles Bassey will do more than just pick up the slack. Last season at Auburn, Murray averaged 10.1 points and 6.7 rebounds. Bassey is a five-star recruit and should be a star at WKU from day one. Players like junior college transfer Matthew Horton, freshman Tolu Smith and sophomore Marek Nelson will add enough frontcourt depth to keep the starters fresh. If all this talent can come together quickly, Western Kentucky should be able to build off last season and compete for a conference title.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.4 (62nd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.4 (125, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.2 (12, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.9 (110, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.4 (334, 14)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.1 (169, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.7 (157, 6)
Rebound Margin: 2.1 (102, 5)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (176, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.6 (59, 4)
Madness 2019 NBA Draft Rankings:
#25 Charles Bassey
Madness 2018 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#10 Charles Bassey
#86 Dalano Banton