#56 Illinois State Men's Basketball 2012-13 Preview

Illinois State Redbirds

2012-2013 Overall Rank: #56
Conference Rank: #3 Missouri Valley
Illinois State Men's College Basketball 2012-2013 Team Preview
Illinois State Team Page


Illinois State has a new coach, but there is a lot of returning talent for Dan Muller to work with. The key for the Redbirds will be finding a point guard to replace Nic Moore. Fortunately, there are quite a few options. Anthony Cousin started 14 games last season and is an experienced senior who is pretty much a true point guard. Cousin’s lack of scoring prowess could keep him on the bench though. Johnny Hill is not a true point guard and rarely played as a freshman, but he could be in the mix at the point as well. Bryant Allen was the sixth man last season and is known more for his shooting ability than his ball handling skills, but he did run the point off of the bench on occasion last season.

2011-12 Record: 21-14, 9-9
2011-12 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Dan Muller
Coach Record: First year at Illinois State, 0-0 overall

Who’s Out:
Moore’s absence will be felt for more than just his passing ability. He is following his old coach to SMU after tallying 10.0 points and 3.9 assists as a freshman. Moore proved to be a quality shooter and that always made him a dangerous player with the ball in his hands. Little used guards Trey Blue and Darious Clark have also transferred, but Moore’s unexpected departure is the one thing that could keep Illinois State out of the race for a Missouri Valley title.

Who’s In:
Kaza Keane will be thrown into the mix at the point guard position and, eventually, he could very well step into the starting role. Keane was a late pickup for the Redbirds, but he obviously fills a huge need. The Canadian has a little more scoring pop than a player like Cousin, but it will all come down to adjusting to this level of competition and picking up the system. When Keane is ready to go, he can be the scoring point guard Coach Muller wants. Nick Zeisloft will suit up for the Redbirds this season after redshirting last year. The 6-4 wing is a great shooter and he has the potential to provide a great offensive spark off of the bench when his shot is falling. John Jones, a 6-9 forward, could be eligible this season as a sophomore. However, on a squad with a slew of options in the frontcourt, Jones could redshirt even if he is eligible. Yet, he is a fine talent and keeping him on the bench for two years in a row could be difficult.

Who to Watch:
With or without Jones, the Redbirds frontcourt is in great hands. Jackie Carmichael, a 6-9 senior, will dominate the paint one more time for Illinois State. Last season he led the squad with 13.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per contest. While Carmichael does spend most of his time in the paint, he can knock down the mid-range jumper and has turned into a solid free-throw shooter as well. Junior Jon Ekey will join Carmichael in the frontcourt once again. Ekey is a more versatile player than Carmichael. He can step outside and hit the three-pointer with consistency, but he can fall in love with the jump shot a little too easily at times. He is not a strong interior scorer, but he can be more than a shooter. John Wilkins is one of the more intriguing players in the Missouri Valley Conference. He is a 6-9 wing who is a matchup nightmare. Wilkins can shoot over smaller defenders with ease or use his quickness to get around the opposition that can match his size. At 230 pounds, Wilkins can easily spend time at the four spot when Coach Muller wants a quicker lineup on the floor. But with all of the talent in the frontcourt, Wilkins should spend most of his time at the three spot. Sophomore Jordan Threloff should be ready to provide more depth in the frontcourt after averaging 10.5 minutes per game as a freshman. If Jones is suiting up this year, no team in the MVC can match the quality depth that Illinois State sports this season. If Threloff is ready to step up as a sophomore, the Redbirds will not even need Jones to be the best the MVC has to offer.

Final Projection:
The point guard play will determine how good this squad will be in 2012-2013, but the Redbirds have other weapons on the perimeter. Tyler Brown came from the junior college ranks and had a superb debut season in Normal. Brown was the most prolific shooter on a team that is full of quality shooters. Ekey and Allen shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc, but it was Brown who led the way connecting on 45.4 percent of his attempts from long range. But Brown can do more than shoot. He tallied 13.7 points per game and led the team in steals as well. Zeke Upshaw will join the leftovers from the point guard battle providing depth on the perimeter. As much talk as there has been, and will be, about finding a new point guard, Illinois State does not really need the point guard to do much beside handle the pressure and find the scorers. That may be easier said than done, but Cousin is a proven distributor and getting help from a player like Keane will just be a bonus.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Anthony Cousin, Senior, Guard, 4.6 points per game
Tyler Brown, Senior, Guard, 13.7 points per game
John Wilkins, Senior, Guard, 7.3 points per game
Jon Ekey, Junior, Forward, 9.0 points per game
Jackie Carmichael, Senior, Forward, 13.9 points per game