#68 Western Kentucky Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #68
Conference Rank: #1 Conference USA
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Western Kentucky has been moving in the right direction and garnering plenty of headlines under Coach Rick Stansbury. Despite all of that positive play and three straight 20-win seasons, Hilltopper fans are still waiting for their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2013. And back then WKU was a 16-seed. This time around the expectations are higher and early indications are that this could be one of those very popular 11 or 12 seeds to pull off an upset or two in the NCAA Tournament.
2019-20 Record: 20-10, 13-5
Coach: Rick Stansbury
Coach Record: 82-52 at Western Kentucky, 375-217 overall
Key Departed Players:
Jared Savage, Guard/Forward, 11.7 ppg
Cameron Justice, Guard, 10.1 ppg
Jeremiah Gambrell, Guard, 1.3 ppg
Matt Horton, Forward, 1.1 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Taveion Hollingsworth, Senior, Guard, 16.6 ppg
Carson Williams, Senior, Forward, 14.0 ppg
Josh Anderson, Senior, Guard, 10.1 ppg
Jordan Rawls, Sophomore, Guard, 7.9 ppg
Charles Bassey, Junior, Center, 15.3 ppg
Key New Players:
Bailey Conrad, Freshman, Forward
Kenny Cooper, Senior, Guard, Transfer from Lipscomb
Luke Frampton, Junior, Guard, Transfer from Davidson, eligible
Dayvion McKnight, Freshman, Guard
Kylen Milton, Freshman, Guard
Kevin Osawe, Junior, Forward, JC Transfer
Western Kentucky still managed 20 wins last season despite the shortened campaign and the absence of Charles Bassey for most of the year. The 6-11 junior was the conference’s Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman. As a sophomore last season he played in just ten games due to an injury. In those ten games he averaged 15.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. As long as the injury issues stay behind him, Bassey will be the favorite to take home Player of the Year accolades in 2020-2021. With Bassey out, quite a few other players stepped up last season. Taveion Hollingsworth led the squad with 16.6 points, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals and fellow senior guard Josh Anderson added 10.1 points per game. Jordan Rawls played well as a freshman, tallying 7.9 points and 2.2 assists. He will likely play in a reserve role again in 2020-2021 thanks to the addition of Kenny Cooper, a transfer from Lipscomb. The graduate transfer tallied 9.8 points, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals as a junior with the Bisons last season. The backcourt also adds a great shooter in Luke Frampton. The backcourt can carry this team, but they will not because of the return of Bassey and the emergence of Carson Williams. Williams is an undersized forward, but he is tough on the glass and proved to be a great scoring option. This Western Kentucky team has an immense amount of talent and plenty of depth. As long as everybody stays healthy, anything less than a Conference USA title would be disappointing.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 76.6 (38th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 72.0 (247, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.7 (72, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.1 (242, 11)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (195, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.8 (149, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 78.9 (5, 1)
Rebound Margin: -2.2 (275, 12)
Assists Per Game: 11.1 (312, 12)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.5 (116, 3)