#122 Winthrop Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Winthrop Eagles
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #122
Conference Rank: #1 Big South
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Last season looked like it should have been a rebuilding year for Winthrop. And following a couple “down” seasons where the Eagles failed to win the Big South regular season title or conference tournament title, many expected Coach Pat Kelsey and company to again finish outside of the top spot. Unfortunately for the rest of the Big South, that did not happen. Winthrop went 15-3 in conference play and cruised through the conference tournament as well. That would have been their first NCAA Tournament since 2017 and their second since 2010, which ended a decade of Big South dominance. The Eagles will hope last season was the start of another great decade. At the least, it should lead to another very good season in 2020-2021.
2019-20 Record: 24-10, 15-3
Coach: Pat Kelsey
Coach Record: 163-93 at Winthrop, 163-93 overall
Key Departed Players:
Hunter Hale, Guard, 13.9 ppg
Josh Ferguson, Forward, 11.4 ppg
Key Returning Players:
DJ Burns Jr, Sophomore, Forward, 11.9 ppg
Chandler Vaudrin, Senior, Guard, 9.3 ppg
Micheal Anumba, Junior, Guard, 6.8 ppg
Russell Jones Jr, Sophomore, Guard, 7.3 ppg
Chase Claxton, Sophomore, Forward, 6.9 ppg
Charles Falden, Senior, Guard, 6.7 ppg
Kyle Zunic, Senior, Guard, 5.5 ppg
Josh Corbin, Sophomore, Guard, 4.1 ppg
Jamal King, Sophomore, Guard, 3.2 ppg
Key New Players:
Toneari Lane, Freshman, Forward
Kelton Talford, Freshman, Forward
Adonis Arms, Junior, Guard, Transfer from Northwest Nazarene
The Eagles do lose a couple key players, but seven players are back who saw significant playing time last season. DJ Burns is the reigning conference Freshman of the Year after tallying 11.9 points and 4.1 rebounds. The 6-9, 260 pound local Rock Hill, South Carolina product is an efficient interior scorer and hit 58.3 percent of his shots from the floor. Burns will improve his overall game with a year of experience under his belt and with some more efficiency on the glass and at the charity stripe. Burns could quickly go from Freshman of the Year to Player of the Year. Chandler Vaudrin is the leader on the floor and dished out 5.8 assists on top of his 9.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists. Vaudrin was not a consistent outside shooter though and that means Michael Anumba, Russell Jones and Kyle Zunic will have to pick up some of the slack in that department. Anumba connected on an impressive 42.6 percent of his three-pointers last season, but did not take too many of them. Without Hunter Hale hoisting up a slew of long balls, expect Anumba to see his numbers increase dramatically. Winthrop has a lot of good rebounders in the backcourt and ranked eighth in the nation in rebounding margin last season, but sophomore Chase Claxton will need to have a big year if the Eagles are going to replicate that success on the glass. A few newcomers and less experienced players like Jamal King and Josh Corbin, who missed nearly all of his true freshman campaign with an injury, should provide more than enough depth for Coach Kelsey to go nine deep again in 2020-2021. Even if that depth does not pan out, there is more than enough talent for Winthrop to win another Big South title and get a crack at the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 81.3 (5th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.5 (236, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.2 (46, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.6 (219, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.5 (21, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.6 (110, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 63.6 (338, 11)
Rebound Margin: 7.7 (8, 1)
Assists Per Game: 15.9 (15, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.9 (243, 9)