#87 Georgia State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Georgia State Panthers

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #87
Conference Rank: #2 Sun Belt

Georgia State Team Page#87 Georgia State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Georgia State Basketball Tickets

Georgia State cruised through the Sun Belt regular season. The Panthers won the regular season title with a 17-1 record and looked well on their way to an NCAA Tournament appearance. Holding a nine-point lead with three minutes to play in the Sun Belt Tournament Championship game, Georgia State’s ticket to the Big Dance was surely punched, but then Louisiana-Lafayette came storming back. The Ragin Cajun’s outscored Georgia State 11-2 over the next three minutes to force overtime, where they knocked off the Panthers, 82-81. Georgia State was forced to settle for a bid in the NIT as a result, where they were beat by Clemson in the opening round. The Panthers will be back looking for revenge this season, as they look to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.

2013-14 Record: 25-9, 17-1
2013-14 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Ron Hunter
Coach Record: 62-37 at Georgia State, 283-216 overall

Who’s Out:
The Panthers lose a pair of starters off last season’s team. Manny Atkins departs after having a very productive senior season. The 6-foot-6 forward averaged 14.4 points per game to go along with team highs in rebounds, 6.1 per game, and three point percentage, just over 43 percent. Also gone from the starting lineup is Devonta White. White was the third guard in the starting lineup, averaging 11.6 points and a team-high 4.3 assists per game. In addition to those two departures, Georgia State’s bench was riddled by departures this offseason. The Panthers top two guards off the bench also depart, creating a hole in the backcourt. Rashad Richardson graduated after averaging 2.8 points per game while averaging just over ten minutes per contest. Jaylen Hinton averaged just over seven minutes per game as a freshman last season, but he decided to transfer elsewhere this offseason. Joining Hinton on the transfer route were guards Kevin Shaw and Darius Sharpe and forward LaRon Smith. All three saw minimal playing time last season, averaging less than five minutes per game. Forward Denny Burguillos rounds out the departures. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged less than a point per game while playing just under six minutes per game last year.

Who’s In:
Kevin Ware is a huge get for head coach Ron Hunter. The former Louisville guard is most remembered for the gruesome leg injury he suffered in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, but Ware is a solid player that should fit right in at Georgia State. Ware is a former top 100 recruit out of high school who averaged just under five points per game at Louisville before the injury. A full season removed from the injury and in a new setting, Ware will look to return to his old self and slide into White’s old starting spot. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Dennis and freshman Jeff Thomas will compete with Ware for backcourt minutes. Dennis is viewed as a shutdown defender and has a great shot to see some quality minutes. The former American Family Insurance High School Dunk contest champion was forced to redshirt last season due to injury after he averaged over 16 points per game as a high school senior. Thomas averaged 18 points per game at Norwalk High School in Ohio, leading his team to the state championship game. With Ware likely to occupy the open starting spot, Thomas and Dennis should get a shot at key minutes coming off the bench. Forward Jordan Session, a former high school teammate of Dennis, and junior college transfer Jalen Brown complete the recruiting class. Both will be in the mix for frontcourt minutes with Atkins gone.

Who to Watch:
The backcourt duo of Ryan Harrow and R.J. Hunter will be the heart and soul of this Georgia State team. The duo averaged 17.8 and 18.3 points per game, respectively, last season and form one of the top backcourts in the country. After spending time at N.C. State and Kentucky, Harrow found his niche at Georgia State last season, scoring a career high 37 points in the Panthers Sun Belt Tournament loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. Hunter, the son of head coach Ron Hunter, has been an impact player since the moment he stepped on campus. The 6-foot-6 guard was a Freshman All-American, the CAA Rookie of the Year, an All-CAA First Team member and an All-CAA Rookie team honoree as a freshman in 2012-13. Last year, Hunter was an honorable mention AP All-American, the Sun Belt Player of the Year and a First Team All-Sun Belt member, hitting 100 three pointers and shooting over 88 percent from the free throw line to go along with his average of nearly 20 points per game. Finding frontcourt production to go alongside the duo is Georgia State’s biggest question. USC transfer Curtis Washington is back for his second season with the Panthers after averaging 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season. Filling Atkins spot alongside him will likely be a combination of Markus Crider and T.J. Shipes. Crider was Georgia State’s top reserve last season, averaging three points and 3.5 rebounds in just over 17 minutes per game. He is likely to step into Atkins starting role, leaving his bench spot to Shipes, who averaged 1.1 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season, averaging 8.3 minutes per game. Former walk-on Robert Green, who is on scholarship for his final season, and walk-on David Travers complete the roster. Green could be in the mix for bench minutes this season after playing in 24 games last season.

Final Projection:
The Harrow-Hunter backcourt duo will carry the Panthers this season, but if the production from Atkins spot is not replaced, it is unlikely for Georgia State to have as much success this season. Washington, Crider and Shipes will all need to up their production to offset the loss. One thing that looks to change is the depth Georgia State has. Four starters, Harrow, Hunter, White and Atkins, averaged over 33 minutes per game last year. Harrow and Hunter will see those kind of minutes again, but head coach Ron Hunter will have the luxury of spreading the remaining minutes between guards Ware, Green, Dennis and Thomas, as well as forwards Washington, Crider and Shipes. If those seven players can combine to replace the lost production, making the NCAA Tournament could be a possibility.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Ryan Harrow, Senior, Guard, 17.8 points per game
Kevin Ware, Junior, Guard, 1.7 points per game at Louisville
R.J. Hunter, Junior, Guard, 18.3 points per game
Marcus Crider, Junior, Forward, 3.0 points per game
Curtis Washington, Senior, Forward, 7.5 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.7 (33rd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.5 (134, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.8 (49, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.1 (100, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.4 (63, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.5 (56, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 77.8 (3, 1)
Rebound Margin: -4.7 (321, 10)
Assists Per Game: 13.3 (120, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 8.1 (2, 1)

Madness 2015 NBA Draft Rankings:
#68 Ryan Harrow
#73 R.J. Hunter


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