Of the previews so far, Tennessee State’s has been by far the easiest. That’s because their entire team is back, plus 3 new players with D-I experience. If there is a team that is likely to break out next season, this is it.
At one point last season, Tennessee State already looked like a breakout team. The Tigers got off to a quick start in conference play before inexperience and the inconsistency that goes along with it drug the Tigers down to the 5th seed in the OVC tournament, where they bowed out to a surging UT Martin squad.
This team centers around rising sophomore Robert Covington: a 50% shooter, 46% from 3-point range, and he led the team last season in rebounds, blocks and steals. Covington will be surrounded by 3 players who averaged 10+ points a game last season, in Kenny Moore, last year’s OVC Freshman of the Year Patrick Miller, and Wil Peters.
The big weakness last year, turnovers, but given the youth of a team with zerp seniors, that’s not entirely surprising. They were 8th in the OVC in turnover margin, and 8th in assist-turnover ratio. Those numbers should be better this year, with a more experienced team.
The three new players for the Tigers next season are all transfers. Bawa Muniru, a 6’11” sophomore, played just 61 minutes and scored just 10 points for Indiana. Kellen Thorton is a 6-7 junior who played almost 13 minutes a game last year for Illinois State. And rounding out the transfers is a 6-3 guard from Utah, Jordan Cyphers.
For me, the bottom line on this team is simple. Last season, they were a borderline dangerous team but too inconsistent to make a full 18 game run in the OVC. This year, they’re more talented, and more experienced. At the end of the previews, I’ll rank the teams from 1-11, and I can tell you this team will be near the top, if not at the top, of my ranking. Beware the Tigers in March.