#132 Western Kentucky Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #132
Conference Rank: #3 Sun Belt

WKU Team Page#132 Western Kentucky Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy WKU Basketball Tickets

For the second year in a row Western Kentucky made an improbable run during the Sun Belt tournament and earned a #16 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This time around they gave Kansas all they could handle in a 57-64 loss. Heading into 2013-2014, the scrappy Hilltoppers should not have to make such a surprising run in the conference tournament to make another trip to the big dance. Coach Ray Harper has a very talented and athletic team to work with and the surprise would be if Western Kentucky was not one of the top teams in the Sun Belt.

2012-13 Record: 20-16, 10-10
2012-13 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Ray Harper
Coach Record: 31-24 at Western Kentucky, 31-24 overall

Who’s Out:
Jamal Crook is the only major departure. However, the transfers of Stephon Drane, Kene Anyigbo and Eddie Alcantara does take away some experience from the bench. Along with graduating senior Marcus Vasquez, none of those players averaged over ten minutes per game and will be relatively easily replaced. Crook, on the other hand, averaged nearly 30 minutes per game as a senior and led the team with 4.0 assists. Crook did a great job during his senior season finding his teammates first and shooting second. He still shot quite a bit and averaged 12.1 points per contest, but he did develop into a point guard and now Western Kentucky will have to find a new one.

Who’s In:
The hope is a redshirt freshman, who spent a semester at Butler, will be the answer at point guard once he is eligible after the first semester. Harrison-Docks is a very good all-around player who can score from anywhere on the floor and create opportunities for his teammates. More importantly, he is a smart floor leader. It will be difficult for a freshman to come in mid-season and take over the point guard duties, but Harrison-Docks is one of the few players who can pull it off. The ultra-athletic Trency Jackson will also be eligible in December and provide quality depth on the perimeter. Payton Hulsey could help the situation at point guard, but probably not any time soon. The incoming freshman is more of a shooting guard at this point in his career and whether he ends up at the point or not, he will need time to develop. The frontcourt gets a bit more experience with junior college transfers Aaron Adeoye and Daouda Soumaoro. Adeoye, who played at Ball State as a freshman, is a 6-7 forward who can eat up a lot of space in the paint. He will use the space he creates for himself to make some nice post moves and score relatively consistently in the paint. Soumaoro’s junior college career has been ravaged by injuries, but the 6-10 center can play defense and grab rebounds when he is healthy.

Who to Watch:
The backcourt has to find a point guard. T.J. Price is an option. The 6-4 junior ranked second on the team in assists with 2.4 during the 2012-2013 campaign, but Price is too important as a scorer to spend much time on the ball. He is a prolific shooter who will also attack the basket and finish above the rim. He connected on 2.5 three-pointers per game last season and he can have some huge scoring outings when his shot is falling. Brandon Harris and Kevin Kaspar are more likely options to run the show to start the year. Like Price, Harris is a good outside shooter and a fine rebounder. Harris actually ranked second on the team with 5.6 rebounds per contest. Kaspar looks more like a point guard, but he is mostly an outside shooter. If he has the ball in his hands, Kaspar will have to find a way to get into the paint and create for his teammates. Caden Dickerson started ten games last season and made a big splash with the Hilltoppers as an underclassman. When his shot is falling, Dickerson can be a big time scorer, but due to injuries it has been a while since that has happened.

Final Projection:
George Fant followed up a very successful freshman campaign with a better sophomore season. The 6-6 forward averaged 12.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. He is undersized, but Fant simply finds a way to score in the paint. As his collegiate career has progressed, Fant has done more than just score in the paint as well. His outside shot is nowhere near consistent yet, but he is now a threat to step outside and knock down the 18-foot jumper. Aleksejs Rostov and O’Karo Akamune both earned some starts last season beside Fant. Rostov is the more consistent scorer of the two, but Akamune is the better rebounder and defender. The frontcourt has enough talent and depth and the backcourt has more than enough athletic wings who can shoot. What this team needs is a point guard and a true floor leader and it remains to be seen if Harrison-Docks can be that player. If he is, this will be a very good Western Kentucky squad. If not, it may take another surprising run in the conference tournament to reach the Hilltoppers season objective.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Kevin Kaspar, Junior, Guard, 5.3 points per game
Brandon Harris, Senior, Guard, 8.2 points per game
T.J. Price, Junior, Guard, 15.2 points per game
George Fant, Junior, Forward, 12.8 points per game
Aleksejs Rostov, Sophomore, Center, 4.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.9 (190th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.7 (147, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.7 (201, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.4 (154, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.3 (150, 5)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 31.9 (244, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.4 (236, 9)
Rebound Margin: 3.3 (77, 2)
Assists Per Game: 11.1 (289, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.9 (289, 6)


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