#109 Drake Men's Basketball 2012-13 Preview

Drake Bulldogs

2012-2013 Overall Rank: #109
Conference Rank: #6 Missouri Valley
Drake Men's College Basketball 2012-2013 Team Preview
Drake Team Page


Drake finally achieved some success under Coach Mark Phelps and now that success should continue. The Bulldogs finished with just a 9-9 record in the Missouri Valley Conference, but they made some big strides. Four starters are returning, plus a two-year starter who missed the 2011-2012 campaign with an injury, so there is plenty of reason to be optimistic. Yet, there is reason to be pessimistic as well since the Bulldogs lost their best scorer and every other player on their roster besides the returning starting four. Another trip to the postseason is very feasible though, but a vast improvement may have to wait another year or two.

2011-12 Record: 18-16, 9-9
2011-12 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Mark Phelps
Coach Record: 62-69 at Drake, 62-69 overall

Who’s Out:
Guard Rayvonte Rice was the go-to-scorer for Drake. He tallied 16.8 points per game and even ranked second on the team with 5.8 rebounds and led the squad with 1.9 steals. Rice was never much of a shooter, but he was fearless in attacking the basket. Drake may not find a guard to immediately replace all of his production, but it would be helpful to find a player who can make something happen like Rice did. Rice is continuing his collegiate career at Illinois. The losses of the roleplayers are highlighted by sixth man Kurt Alexander. The 6-0 guard was third on the team with 8.5 points. Judd Welfringer played in just 13 games, but averaged 10.3 minutes per game and played some solid defense. The frontcourt takes their hits too with the departure of Aaron Hawley and Kraidon Woods. Hawley was a productive scorer and shooter when he was on the floor and Woods provided a bruiser under the basket who could block shots and grab tough rebounds.

Who’s In:
The newcomers will have to provide at least all of the depth for Drake. And there are plenty of options with ten players eligible to suit up for the Bulldogs for the first time in 2012-2013. Coach Phelps once again had to bring in a talented bunch of newcomers and it appears as though he has done just that. The key contributors are the transfers. Chris Hines joins the perimeter group after starting 26 games at Utah last season. He averaged 9.6 points and, more importantly for this squad, knocked down 66 three-pointers. Junior college transfers Richard Carter and Gary Ricks, Jr. will look to find their spots in the regular rotation. A huge group of freshmen will look to be in the mix as well, but suddenly there is actually some depth on the perimeter even with the unexpected loss of Rice. Kori Babineaux, Taylor Harville, Micah Mason and walk-on Mitch McLaughlin will join the fray. The frontcourt does not have any junior college transfers, but the Bulldogs could use another big body off of the bench. Joey King, Robert Puleikis and Daddy Ugbede will vie for that role as freshmen.

Who to Watch:
It is likely one of the four returning starters will lose their starting job with Hines coming to town. Ben Simons and Jeremy Jeffers are both versatile wings who are coming off of superb seasons. Simons is a big 6-8 wing who may be asked to spend some more time at the four spot this year if the newcomers are not ready to provide frontcourt depth. With that size it will not be a problem. Simons was overshadowed by Rice last season, but he could keep up with the scorer. After averaging 16.4 points per game, Simons may be asked to do even more this year. Simons is the shooter on the team and knocked down 42.5 percent of his 6.2 three-point attempts per game. Whether at the three spot or the four spot, it is hard to stop that. Jeffers, a 6-6 forward, is nowhere near as prolific of a scorer, but he can shoot and hit the glass. With Jeffers’ ability to play pretty much anywhere, he would be a solid option off of the bench. Karl Madison headed into the 2011-2012 campaign with pretty low expectations, but he ended up being the starting point guard for 29 games. He is not a scorer and certainly made some freshman mistakes, but Madison should be better prepared to run the show this year.

Final Projection:
The backcourt has plenty of talent and depth and even more versatility. The frontcourt has Jordan Clarke and Seth VanDeest. Clarke has dealt with some injuries throughout his career, but last year he emerged as a great rebounder and a decent interior scorer. His 7.0 rebounds per game were easily the best on the team and he can do the dirty work in the paint. That should be very good news for VanDeest as he gets back into the swing of things after missing all of last season with an injury. VanDeest started all 62 games during his freshman and sophomore campaigns and is a capable interior scorer who can knock down the mid-range jumper as well. VanDeest is not a very strong rebounder, but Clarke can sweep up all of the loose balls while VanDeest becomes the interior scoring threat this team needs to open up shooters like Simons. It will take some time to get used to playing without Rice, but this is a program on the rise after a few years of inexperience and disappointment.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Karl Madison, Sophomore, Guard, 4.7 points per game
Chris Hines, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Ben Simons, Senior, Forward, 16.4 points per game
Jordan Clarke, Senior, Forward, 6.0 points per game
Seth VanDeest, Junior, Center, DNP last season