#131 Missouri State Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Missouri State Bears
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #131
Conference Rank: #5 Missouri Valley
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Through the end of the Paul Lusk era and into the first two seasons of Dana Ford leading the program, Missouri State has been a solid, but unremarkable team. In what appears to be a top heavy Missouri Valley Conference heading into the 2020-2021 campaign, a solid program is not a bad place to be. Seriously competing for a conference title or a spot in the NCAA Tournament may be too much to ask with three starters gone from a year ago, but Coach Ford has a talented frontcourt to build around and plenty of junior college transfers coming in to help fill the holes.
2019-20 Record: 16-17, 9-9
Coach: Dana Ford
Coach Record: 32-33 at Missouri State, 89-98 overall
Key Departed Players:
Keandre Cook, Guard, 14.9 ppg
Tulio Da Silva, Forward, 9.9 ppg
Lamont West, Forward, 9.5 ppg
Tyrik Dixon, Guard, 7.3 ppg
Josh Hall, Guard/Forward, 5.2 ppg
Kabir Mohammed, Forward, 2.6 ppg
Ross Owens, Guard, 2.4 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Ja’Monta Black, Sophomore, Guard, 3.2 ppg
Gaige Prim, Senior, Forward, 13.7 ppg
Isiaih Mosley, Sophomore, Forward, 8.3 ppg
Jared Ridder, Junior, Forward, 1.0 ppg
Key New Players:
Raphe Ayers, Freshman, Guard
Melvyn Ebonkoli, Freshman, Forward
Keaton Hervey, Junior, Guard/Forward, JC Transfer
Demarcus Sharp, Junior, Guard, JC Transfer
Nic Tata, Junior, Forward, JC Transfer
Skylar Wicks, Freshman, Guard
Dawson Carper, Junior, Center, Transfer from Hawaii, not eligible
Senior forward Gaige Prim will be the new star of the team. Last season he averaged 13.7 points and 4.9 rebounds and led the squad with 20 blocked shots. He is a big 6-8, 250 pounder who is very effective in the paint. As long as the offense can work through Prim, Missouri State should be in decent shape. The frontcourt also returns 6-5 sophomore Isiaih Mosley. He managed to crack the regular rotation and averaged 8.3 points per game as a freshman on a team that did not really need him to play as much as he did. But he made it tough for the coaching staff to leave him on the bench. Now he will be on the floor much more often. The other key returning player is Ja’Monta Black. The 6-3 guard managed to start 20 games as a freshman, but only averaged 3.2 points and 1.2 assists per game. Despite those unimpressive numbers, Black can shoot the basketball and does a superb job of taking care of it too. The development of the newcomers will make all the difference for Missouri State. Junior college transfer Demarcus Sharp earned NJCAA Division I All-American honors last season while at Colby Community College in in Kansas. The 6-4 guard can do it all. Wing Keaton Hervey and forward Nic Tata add some much needed experience to the roster. Melvyn Ebonkoli could be the most interesting newcomer of the bunch though. The 6-7 forward has played against some tough competition in his native France and could immediately turn into a major contributor at Missouri State. Coach Ford may not be able to find the depth he had last season when 11 players averaged at least ten minutes per game, but this group should be able to put out a strong seven or eight man rotation that can at least hang around with the top teams in the MVC.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.6 (193rd in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.8 (133, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.8 (173, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.1 (191, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (202, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.4 (72, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.9 (57, 2)
Rebound Margin: 6.2 (25, 2)
Assists Per Game: 11.8 (272, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.6 (212, 9)