With so many talented seniors graduating, and a few key players heading to larger schools, who’s going to step-up this year? Sure, guys like Evan Bradds and Nick Mayo will be back, but there’s a lot of talent that didn’t make the all-conference team a year ago. This isn’t the list of the best returnees, rather eight guys that could make the biggest jumps in 2016-17. (In alphabetical order)
Bryce Jones, Murray State
With Jeffery Moss and Wayne Langston graduating, Jones should have plenty of opportunities to be explosive. The JUCO transfer averaged more than 12 points a game, and was fifth in the league in assists, and his 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked eighth best in the OVC. Jones can also make teams pay from the free-throw line. He shot 87% from the charity stripe last year, best in the league.
Dejuan Marrero, Morehead State (pictured above)
Morehead State has seemingly cornered the market on quality big men in recent years, and Marrero is another good one. As a junior, Marrero averaged 8.2 points and 7.2 rebounds a contest, and added more than a steal a game. He only had six double-doubles a season ago, but I’d wager that number will more than double in the coming season.
…that is, if he returns to his early season form from a year ago. Marrero was pulled from the starting lineup during conference play. He bounced back to close out the CBI, scoring in double-digits in all three games of the finals against Nevada, and averaged seven rebounds for the series.
Isaac McGlone, Eastern Kentucky
McGlone will be a senior this year, and he enters as one of the most experienced guys in the league. McGlone has missed just one game over his three seasons in Richmond, and started 58 games over the past two season. McGlone was a 40% three-point shooter a year ago, and had an insane 5.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. (57 assists, 10 turnovers) He’s a jump shooter, who doesn’t get to the free-throw line, and despite all the minutes was just 8th in scoring on the team last year. But, EKU loses a lot of their scoring from a year ago, giving McGlone a huge opportunity to rise in his final year.
Darreon Reddick, Tennessee State
Reddick went through a bit of a sophomore slump last season. Reddick’s scoring fell from 7.7 ppg to 5.6, his field goal shooting dropped from 40% to 32%. Reddick’s three-point shooting slumped even worse falling from 44% to 27%. It wasn’t the greatest season. But there’s a few reasons to believe his production will rise again. First, the Tigers are graduating five seniors, including their leading scorer from last season. Second, Reddick is a great free-throw shooter, hitting 81% from the charity stripe a year ago. If he can adjust his game a bit, Reddick could be set to make a big jump.
Hakeem Rogers, Tennessee Tech
With the Golden Eagles graduating their top two scorers, Rogers, who was a good player last year, could have an opportunity to be great. Rogers shot 40% from three-point range, 84% from the charity stripe, and nearly averaged double-figure scoring even with Torrence Rowe and Ryan Martin averaging 32 points a game between them. Rogers’ minutes, less than 20 a game last season, should rise significantly.
Jared Savage, Austin Peay
Heading into the OVC Tournament, most people outside of Clarksville probably didn’t know much about this freshman. That changed in a big way in Nashville. Savage hit 19 three’s (and 55% from deep) in the Governors’ Tournament run, including eight in the final against UT Martin, notching a spot on the all-tournament team.
Savage worked his way into the Governors starting lineup in the final week before the OVC Tournament, and played significant time for a freshman during the conference campaign. During the regular season, he averaged about five points a game, and shot 35% from three-point range, but showed during the conference tournament that his confidence isn’t lacking. Combined with Josh Robinson at point, the Governors should have one of the best backcourts in the league in 2016-17.
Casey Teson, Eastern Illinois
Last season, Teson was the definition of the ‘under-the-radar’ player. The freshman started 29 games for the Panthers, and hit 38% (64-165) from three-point range. He was also the definition of a ‘jump shooter’ — only taking 18 free-throw attempts despite 198 field goal attempts last season.
Teson isn’t likely to have as big of an impact next season for the Panthers as guys like Demetrius McReynolds and Cornell Johnston, but those two guys a pretty well known commodities, and Teson has the most room to grow, hence his inclusion in the list.
Just off the list: Carlos Anderson, SIUE; Malcolm Drumwright, Jacksonville State; Austin Luke, Belmont; Jacolby Mobley, UT Martin