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One day after it was learned that Loyola Marymount would not renew the contract of head coach Max Good, the school announced that it has hired a new leader for the basketball program.
Mike Dunlap, whose most recent job was as the head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, will return to his alma mater as head coach. Dunlap has plenty of coaching experience at the college level, as he turned Metro State (Colorado) into a Division II power and was also a member of the coaching staffs at Arizona, Oregon and St. John’s.
Hit hard by injuries for the second consecutive season Loyola Marymount finished the 2013-14 season with an overall record of 13-19, going 4-14 in West Coast Conference play.
“His reputation is founded on being an outstanding player development coach and a game strategist of the highest level,” LMU athletic director Dr. William Husak said in the release. “I would think that any player we currently have in our program or is committed to LMU would want to have the opportunity to develop and play under Mike Dunlap’s tutelage.
“His former players and coaches who have worked with him have provided me with anecdotes and feedback that their experience playing for and working with Mike was rewarding and transforming.”
Point guard Anthony Ireland, who averaged 18.6 points and 5.3 assists per game, is out of eligibility but the cupboard won’t be bare for Dunlap (barring transfers). Both guard Evan Payne (15.5 ppg) and forward Gabe Levin (11.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg) earned WCC All-Freshman Team honors.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.