#99 Western Kentucky Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #99
Conference Rank: #4 C-USA

Western Kentucky Team Page#99 Western Kentucky Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Western Kentucky Basketball Tickets

Western Kentucky’s days of dominating the Sun Belt are over. The program has made the move to Conference USA. Of course that was a football move, but it will help Coach Ray Harper and the basketball team in the long run as well. As for this year, the Hilltoppers will face tougher competition in January and February than they are used to. However, with the top four scorers back, this is a WKU squad that can make some serious noise right now and it is not like there is a Memphis around anymore to dominate the league.

2013-14 Record: 20-12, 12-6
2013-14 Postseason: none
Coach: Ray Harper
Coach Record: 50-33 at Western Kentucky, 50-33 overall

Who’s Out:
Caden Dickerson started 26 games during his senior season. He often let others do the scoring, but he was a big guard and that helped on a small team. Dickerson could also knock down some three-pointers in spurts. Brandon Harris, O’Karo Akamune, Aaron Adeoyne and Payton Hulsey were all role players who averaged between 13 and 19 minutes per game. That is a massive chunk of Coach Ray Harper’s depth that is now gone. Adeoye even started 15 contests, while the rest of the group earned some spot starts here and there.

Who’s In:
The hope is the newcomers can step in and replace most of those role players right away. And this is a pretty good debut class for WKU in their new conference. Ayinde Sprewell spent two years in the junior college ranks and is a proven scorer. Even though Sprewell is just 6-2, his ability to rebound from the guard spot will help put Western Kentucky towards the top of CUSA in rebounding margin. The backcourt also adds point guard Avery Patterson and shooting guard Derrick Clayton. Minutes in the backcourt will be available and either Patterson or Clayton will likely need to be ready to play a few minutes as freshmen, especially if this team continues to play small. Incoming freshmen forwards Jordan Green and Justin Johnson do not have much size to add to the needed depth in the frontcourt. Both are listed at 6-5, but Johnson does have some girth to throw around and he could certainly play minutes at the four spot for this team.

Who to Watch:
The backcourt trio of T.J. Price, Trency Jackson and Chris Harrison-Docks will account for a large chunk of the Hilltoppers points. Price averaged 15.5 points and will once again be the leader of the team. He is a good scorer from everywhere on the floor and should compete for All-CUSA accolades. Jackson is not as consistent from beyond the arc as Price, but he has emerged as a great scorer around the basket. He averaged 10.2 points per game last season, but he can add a couple more points per game to that number just by knocking down his free-throws. By the end of his freshman season, Harrison-Docks was a very important piece to the team. He had plenty of bouts with freshman inconsistency, but the 5-11 guard did miss the first semester after transferring in from Butler, where he did not play in a game. Considering he had to step right into the mix after missing eight games to start the year, his development is impressive. With a full season, Harrison-Docks is ready for consistency.

Final Projection:
The backcourt is in great shape and the frontcourt has one nice piece to build around. George Fant may sound undersized at 6-6, but he is a tough, tough rebounder and a great interior scorer. He was second on the team with 13.3 points per game and easily led the squad with 6.6 rebounds. The issue is what WKU does at the five spot. Aleksej Rostov started nine games as a sophomore, averaging 4.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. Rostov may max out at about 20 minutes per game though and that leaves lots of time where the five spot will be manned by somebody who is 6-6 or shorter. The other option is Ben Lawson. He played a grand total of 95 minutes as a freshman, yet his experience playing for Great Britain at the U-20 Euros could spark his collegiate career. At 7-0 and counting, Lawson would definitely add some size to the team and that size is more important now as Western Kentucky will not be able to out-athletic every team in their new conference.

Projected Postseason Tournament: None

Projected Starting Five:
Chris Harrison-Docks, Sophomore, Guard, 9.9 points per game
Trency Jackson, Senior, Guard, 10.2 points per game
T.J. Price, Senior, Guard, 15.5 points per game
George Fant, Senior, Forward, 13.3 points per game
Aleksej Rostov, Junior, Center, 4.7 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.6 (236th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.6 (105, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 41.4 (301, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.2 (154, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.3 (71, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.7 (190, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.6 (306, 9)
Rebound Margin: 3.4 (63, 1)
Assists Per Game: 11.3 (274, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.6 (286, 9)


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