#129 Mercer Men's Basketball 2021-2022 Preview

Mercer Bears
2021-2022 Overall Rank: #129
Conference Rank: #4 SoCon
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Back in 2014, Mercer upset Duke in the NCAA Tournament. Since that victory the Bears have had some good campaigns, but have not made a return to the big dance. The last two years have been under the leadership of Coach Greg Gary. He is rebuilding this group largely through recruiting instead of looking for quick fixes on the transfer market. That leaves Mercer with an experienced unit that has played together. There are some major departures though, so last year’s reserve players will need to be ready to step into much larger roles.
2020-21 Record: 18-11, 8-9
2020-21 Postseason: None
Coach: Greg Gary
Coach Record: 33-25 at Mercer, 49-69 overall
Key Departed Players:
Ross Cummings, Guard, 13.2 ppg
Maciej Bender, Forward, 9.7 ppg
Jeff Gary, Guard, 6.7 ppg
Leon Ayers III, Center, 12.2 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Neftali Alvarez, Junior, Guard, 13.3 ppg
Felipe Haase, Senior, Forward, 11.9 ppg
James Glisson III, Junior, Forward, 7.6 ppg
Kamar Robertson, Junior, Guard, 3.8 ppg
Shannon Grant, Sophomore, Center, 3.3 ppg
Victor Bafutto, Senior, Center, 2.0 ppg
Jackson Greco, Sophomore, Guard, 1.6 ppg
Jovan Tucker, Sophomore, Guard, 1.5 ppg
Patrick Urey, Junior, Forward, 1.2 ppg
Diego Rivera, Junior, Guard, 0.6 ppg
John Treanor, Sophomore, Forward, 0.4 ppg
Key New Players:
Jalen Johnson, Senior, Guard, Transfer from Wake Forest
Javian Mosley, Freshman, Guard
Quay Primas, Freshman, Forward
Shawn Walker Jr, Junior, Guard, JC Transfer
The return of Neftali Alvarez gives Mercer a lot of potential. As a sophomore last season Alvarez led the Bears with 13.3 points, 4.2 assists and 1.4 steals. That was Alvarez’s first season with Mercer after spending one year at Fairfield and he is now ready to take over this team. Felipe Haase will again be the inside force. The 6-9 senior averaged 11.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists during his debut season with the Bears in 2020-2021. James Glisson III started half of the team’s games as a sophomore and is more than ready to step into a full-time starting position. With the potential of Shannon Grant and the experience of Victor Bafutto, the frontcourt should have plenty of depth. The backcourt will need some help from the newcomers. Jalen Johnson spent three years at Tennessee and last season at Wake Forest. He averaged 5.0 points per game with the Demon Deacons, but he is a good shooter and Johnson can have a big conclusion to his collegiate career in Macon, Georgia. Junior college transfer Shawn Walker and returning guards Kamar Robertson, Jackson Greco and Jovan Tucker will add some more quality options to the backcourt. There are some questions with this group, but Coach Gary has some options and that should lead to Mercer being competitive in the Southern Conference.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 76.7 (52nd in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.8 (216, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.9 (24, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.8 (194, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.6 (54, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.1 (38, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.8 (137, 5)
Rebound Margin: 2.8 (90, 3)
Assists Per Game: 16.5 (15, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.9 (149, 7)