After last season’s thrilling Horizon League title game that saw Valparaiso close out Wright State with an 18-4 run to end the game, this year’s conference tournament should also be exciting as plenty of talented teams and plenty of talented players will take the floor. Green Bay, Cleveland State and Wright State will be the three favorites to capture the auto bid, but Valparaiso, Youngstown State and Oakland have enough star power to make things interesting.
Where: Campus sites (first round), Green Bay (second round and semifinals), highest seeded team (championship)
Final: Tuesday, March 11, 7:00 p.m., ESPN
Favorite: Green Bay
Green Bay will be the favorite in the Horizon League Tournament as they get a double bye before a home game in the semifinals and a potential home game in the championship. Keifer Sykes and Alex Brown form the league’s top inside-ouside combo and Green Bay has a home win over ACC champion Virginia.
And if they lose?: Cleveland State
Also having the benefit of a double bye, Cleveland State has won 10 of its last 11 games with the only loss coming against Green Bay. The Vikings’ biggest strength lies in its balance. Five players average at least 9.6 points per game and four of those players have made at least 40 three-pointers on the season. Cleveland State’s offense can give other teams fits with its balance and ability to space the floor at multiple positions.
Wright State: The Raiders placed third in the regular season and have won four consecutive games entering the Horizon League Tournament after falling just short of the NCAA Tournament last season.
Valparaiso: It was a surprising season for a new-look Valpo team that has plenty of talent in senior guard Lavonte Dority and freshman forward Alec Peters.
Keifer Sykes, Green Bay: The junior guard is averaging 20.4 points, five assists and 4.4 rebounds a game and also has ridiculous bounce.
Bryn Forbes, Cleveland State: Forbes leads the Vikings’ balanced offensive attack at 15.4 points per game while shooting 41 percent from three-point range and 82 percent from the charity stripe.
Lavonte Dority, Valparaiso: The senior guard averages a team-leading 16.4 points a game and he’s shooting great percentages (46% FG, 85% FT, 44% 3PT) across the board.
Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State: The stat-sheet stuffing senior guard averaged 20.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals a game while shooting 50 percent from the field, 73 percent from the free throw line and 35 percent from three.
Bassett will require surgery in his right foot and his projected recovery time will be four-to-six months. The injury will force Bassett to redshirt the 2016-17 season.
A three-star recruit coming out of Oldsmar Christian in Florida, the 6-foot-9 forward wasn’t expected to be a big contributor during his first year with the Gators, but his loss does hurt some of the team’s frontcourt depth. With John Egbunu, Devin Robinson, Justin Leon and Kevarrius Hayes all returning, the Gators should have plenty of players to use in the frontcourt this season without Bassett.
Once Bassett is healthy and able to play next season he showed good athleticism and an ability to hit the glass hard while he was in high school. Bassett should be able to join Florida’s rotation as an energy defender and rebounder right away.
Iowa State lands four-star Class of 2017 guard Lindell Wigginton
Iowa State has its point guard of the future as four-star Class of 2017 prospect Lindell Wigginton pledged to the Cyclones on Friday.
The 6-foot-1 Wigginton is regarded as the No. 40 overall prospect on Rivals.com as the Canadian has spent the last few seasons at powerhouse Oak Hill Academy. With an ability to play both guard spots and defend a few spots, Wigginton is a valuable addition to head coach Steve Prohm’s ballclub as Wigginton could help replace Monte Morris after he exhausts his eligibility.
Wigginton is going to need to improve his consistency on his perimeter jumper, but he’s a good pull-up scorer who can make plays for himself or others off the bounce. Iowa State’s Class of 2017 recruiting haul now includes Wigginton, four-star wing Terrence Lewis and three-star guard Darius McNeill.
This commitment is huge for Prohm as Wigginton is the most highly-regarded recruit that he has landed with the Cyclones. With Prohm’s point guard history with guys like Isaiah Canaan at Murray State and Monte Morris now with Iowa State, Prohm did a nice job of finding his next young guard to mold for the future.
Davidson star Jack Gibbs to miss a few weeks with shoulder injury
Davidson senior guard Jack Gibbs is one of the most under-the-radar players in college basketball as he will be among the nation’s leading offensive threats this season if he’s healthy.
But health is going to be a question for the 6-foot-1 guard as Gibbs is dealing with a shoulder injury that will sideline him for 2-to-3 weeks, according to head coach Bob McKillop. McKillop told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that tests came back negative for Gibbs and he’s expected to be back for the Wildcats’ season-opener. The injury for Gibbs occurred during Thursday’s Davidson practice.
As a junior, Gibbs averaged 23.5 points, 4.9 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game as he became one of the nation’s premier offensive players. Gibbs is going to be a huge key for Davidson this season as he needs to be healthy in order for the Wildcats to make it back to the NCAA tournament.
VIDEO: Dennis Smith Jr. electrifies N.C. State fans at team’s scrimmage
N.C. State freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. excited fans with some absurd plays at the team’s Primetime with the Pack event last night.
The highly-touted, five-star prospect is the most electric prospect to come to the Wolfpack in years and Smith had the crowd buzzing with some highlight-reel dunks during the team’s 20-minute scrimmage.
Smith made one teammate look silly by putting it between his legs and throwing down a vicious dunk during one play while he also threw an alley-oop to himself to finish another break.
Kentucky freshman guard Malik Monk is going to be one of the newcomers to keep an eye on this season as the 6-foot-3 Arkansas native is an explosive scorer who packs vicious athleticism.
Monk showed Big Blue Nation some of what they can expect to see during Friday night’s Blue/White Scrimmage as he unleashed a ferocious dunk in some traffic and also had another good dunk in transition. While Monk has great lift off the floor, he also isn’t afraid to cock the ball back and put some authority on his dunks. He’s going to be a ton of fun to watch this season.