#96 Ball State Men's Basketball 2018-2019 Preview

Ball State Cardinals
2018-2019 Overall Rank: #96
Conference Rank: #2 Mid-American
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Coach James Whitford has led Ball State to three straight successful seasons of 19 or more wins. The Cardinals did miss out on the postseason for the first time during that stretch last season, but the Cardinals were still a very dangerous team. It was a four game losing streak to end that season kept them from another trip to the CIT. With four starters returning and three eligible Division I transfers, this should be the year Ball State seriously competes for a MAC West crown
2017-18 Record: 19-13, 10-8
2017-18 Postseason: None
Coach: James Whitford
Coach Record: 73-88 at Ball State, 73-88 overall
Key Departed Players:
Sean Sellers, Guard/Forward, 8.3 ppg
Jontrell Walker, Guard, 7.9 ppg
Jeremie Tyler, Guard, 7.1 ppg
Francis Kiapway, Guard, 3.5 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Tayler Persons, Senior, Guard, 15.0 ppg
Tahjai Teague, Junior, Forward, 12.1 ppg
Trey Moses, Senior, Center, 11.3 ppg
Kyle Mallers, Junior, Forward, 9.6 ppg
Zach Gunn, Sophomore, Forward, 5.0 ppg
Ishmael El-Amin, Sophomore, Guard, 4.9 ppg
Josh Thompson, Junior, Guard, 1.9 ppg
Key New Players:
K.J. Walton, Junior, Guard, Transfer from Missouri
Jarron Coleman, Freshman, Guard
Brachen Hazen, Sophomore, Forward, Transfer from Arkansas
Austin Nehls, Senior, Guard, Transfer from Central Connecticut State
Blake Huggins, RS Freshman, Center
Kani Acree, Freshman, Guard/Forward
Miryne Thomas, Sophomore, Forward, Transfer from Maryland Eastern Shore, not eligible
Tayler Persons is the team’s top playmaker. The senior point guard averaged 15.0 points and 4.3 assists last season and is the guy who makes this team tick. Persons is a capable outside shooter, but he will do most of his scoring inside the arc. Kyle Mallers will be one of the shooters on this team. The 6-7 forward connected on 33.7 percent of his 101 three-point attempts. On the year he averaged 9.6 points and 4.9 rebounds. Tahjai Teague and Trey Moses will fill in the rest of the frontcourt. Teague was second on the team with 12.1 points and 7.5 rebounds and is Ball State’s best shot blocking threat. Like Teague, Moses is a very productive player on both ends of the floor. The 6-9 center is a beast on the glass and just as effective scoring in the paint. The Cardinals need a shooter to replace Sean Sellers and they should get it with Central Connecticut State graduate transfer Austin Nehls. Last season Nehls averaged 9.7 points and made 67 three-pointers with the Blue Devils. The backcourt also adds K.J. Walton, who started 24 games during his two seasons with Missouri. With Brachen Hazen joining after one season at Arkansas and more depth provided by returning sophomores Zach Gunn and Ishmael El-Amin, this is a loaded Ball State team that should compete for a MAC title.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.3 (128th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 73.8 (214, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.2 (152, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.5 (88, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (170, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.7 (245, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.5 (217, 8)
Rebound Margin: 1.6 (128, 5)
Assists Per Game: 14.2 (132, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (205, 9)