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Beginning in September and running up through November 11th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2016-2017 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.
Today, we are previewing the SWAC.
Texas Southern ripped through the league last year before seeing its NCAA bid chances evaporate with a loss to Southern in the SWAC tournament, but coach Mike Davis has conference player of the year Derrick Griffin back and committed to hoops after being dismissed from the football program, making the Tigers a favorite in the league once more.
Paris Collins returns to lead Jackson State after their third-place finish from a year ago.Chance Franklin is also back after putting up 12.3 points per game for the Tigers, who lost the SWAC title game a year ago by a single point to Southern.
The Jaguars will be looking for big contributions from Tre’lun Banks and Jared Sam, their top two returnees from last year’s NCAA tournament team. They’ll be needed in a big way to offset the losses of Christopher Hyder, Adrian Rodgers and Shawn Prudhomme.
Alcorn State was the regular-season runner-up last season, but is down four senior starters from the group and the Braves are ineligible for postseason play due to APR scores.
PRESEASON SWAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Derrick Griffin, Texas Southern
The two-sport star is down to one after getting dismissed from the Texas Southern football team this fall, but he’s back for hoops following a year in which he averaged 13.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.
THE REST OF THE PRESEASON SWAC:
- Paris Collins, Jackson State: Averaged 13 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last season.
- Marcus Romain, Mississippi Valley State: The 6-foot-2 senior guard averaged 18.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
- Tommy Armstrong, Alabama State: Armstrong returns to power an Alabama State team that won eight of its last 11
- Trelun Banks, SouthernShot 36.4 percent from 3-point range while scoring 12.4 points, grabbing 2.8 rebounds and dishing out 2.2 assists per game.
ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @theswac
1. Texas Southern
2. Jackson State
4. Alabama State
5. Alcorn State
6. Prairie View A&M
7. Mississippi Valley State
8. Alabama A&M
9. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
10. Grambling State
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Defending Pac-12 champion Oregon is picked to repeat as the regular-season conference winner.
The Ducks received 23 first-place votes from a panel of 27 media members covering the conference, the Pac-12 announced Friday at its media day. Oregon returns four starters from last season’s team that won a school-record 31 games and earned a top seed in the NCAA Tournament, led by junior forward Dillon Brooks, who averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
Arizona received four first-place votes and was picked second, with UCLA third.
The Pac-12 sent a conference-record seven teams to the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
Commissioner Larry Scott expects to announce next month the conference’s plans regarding games played in China. Last year, the Pac-12 began a two-year commitment opening the season in China with Washington beating Texas. On Nov. 11, Stanford will play Harvard in Shanghai.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Last season, the Syracuse Orange had to sweat out Selection Sunday, then shocked the college basketball world by advancing to the Final Four.
This season, despite Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim’s attempt to tamp down expectations at his team’s media day Friday, going that far in the NCAA Tournament wouldn’t be that big of a shock.
“I think it’s very hard, when you’re talking Final Four, you look at the last four years, the two best teams, the two best records in the country were Arizona and Virginia. They’ve won the most games and the most (conference) championships of any teams in the country, and they did not get to the Final Four,” said Boeheim, entering his 41st season leading his alma mater. “So when you start talking `You’ve got to get to the Final Four,’ you’re really foolish.
“You need to get into the tournament, that’s what you need to worry about,” he said.
Boeheim over the summer was effusive in praise of his 2016-17 squad, which features what appears to be a solid mix of talented returnees that includes: projected first-round NBA pick Tyler Lydon; a highly ranked, three-member recruiting class; two fifth-year transfers, guard John Gillon and sharpshooter Andrew White, who are eligible to play immediately; and a traditional transfer, 7-foot-2 center Paschal Chukwu, who promises to be a menacing force in Boeheim’s 2-3 zone defense.
For much of the 2015-16 season, Syracuse was only six players deep. Boeheim said he would be comfortable playing nine or 10 players this season.
“I said this summer we have more depth, which is true, and we have a couple of guys at each position, which we haven’t had in a long time,” Boeheim said. “Now, whether that equates into a better team is something completely different from what I was talking about this summer. Maybe I wasn’t clear in what I was saying. I said, `Could be. Could be.’ I always say that. I said that one year and we won about 18 games.”
Last season’s team finished 23-14 and went just 9-9 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Associate head coach Mike Hopkins went 4-5 while Boeheim served an NCAA-imposed suspension as part of sanctions handed down by the organization.
Many predicted the Orange would fail to make the NCAA Tournament last year, and many screamed foul when the Orange were named to the field of 68. As a No. 10 seed, however, the Orange defeated Dayton and Middle Tennessee before stunning Gonzaga and Virginia to make it to Houston. Syracuse lost to North Carolina in the national semifinals.
“Last year, we were not very good,” Boeheim said. “We played really, really well in the tournament, but that doesn’t take away from the fact we were not a very good team. We need to be a lot better team this year, and we lost three really good players, two (Malachi Richardson and Michael Gbinije) who are playing in the NBA and one (Trevor Cooney) who’s playing in Spain.”
Syracuse is expected to be ranked in the Top 25, but that doesn’t guarantee a thing as far as Boeheim is concerned.
“Preseason rankings are good because people think you might have a chance, but you have to do it on the court,” he said.
Center DaJuan Coleman, a graduate student; senior power forward Tyler Roberson and sophomores Lydon and point guard Frank Howard return. They are joined by Chukwu, freshmen Tyus Battle, Taurean Thompson and Matthew Moyer, and transfers White and Gillon, who came over from Nebraska and Colorado State, respectively.
Syracuse was hit with NCAA sanctions in March 2015. As part of the punishment, 101 of the Orange’s victories were vacated. Among those vacated wins were all 23 from the 2005-06 season, including the Big East Tournament championship when the clutch play of Gerry McNamara led the Orange to four straight wins at Madison Square Garden. Boeheim’s career wins went from 985 to 886, still third all-time behind Mike Krzyzewski and Bob Knight.
The Orange begin play at home against Colgate Nov. 11.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina freshman guard Rakym Felder was arrested Sunday and charged with several counts, including assault, resisting arrest and public disorderly conduct.
Felder, a 6-foot-1 shooting guard from New York, is being held at Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Richland County, according to the facility’s website.
A team spokeswoman said coach Frank Martin was aware of Felder’s arrest and was gathering more information. Per South Carolina athletic department policy, Felder is suspended indefinitely.
Felder was charged by the Columbia police with simple assault and battery, resisting arrest, public disorderly conduct, failure to stop on police command, a pedestrian on a controlled access highway and use of another’s or altered license or identification card.
We’ll be counting down the top 100 players in college basketball all week long. Be sure to check back here throughout the week as the countdown continues over @CBTonNBC.