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2014-2015 Season Preview: This the year for William & Mary, or do new contenders emerge in the CAA?

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

The Colonial Athletic Association ended in dramatic fashion last season as Delaware defeated William & Mary, 75-74, in the final seconds of the conference title game in Baltimore. There will be plenty of turnover in the CAA heading into this season, as many star players have moved on from their collegiate careers and several programs from the bottom half of the conference standings in previous years look to make the jump into the NCAA tournament conversation.

William & Mary guard Marcus Thornton is the only returning first-team all-conference selection and is the league’s best player. The Tribe also return Omar Prewitt, the CAA 2013-2014 Rookie of the Year, giving W&M one of the best perimeters in the conference. Chasing the Tribe will be two teams that finished below .500, but have the tools to be serious contenders this season. Northeastern returns six of its top seven scorers, including second-teamer Scott Eatherton and Quincy Ford, who was sidelined all but two games with a back injury. The two 6-foot-8 forwards give the Huskies the CAA’s best frontline. Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich is equipped with some offensive firepower to account for the graduation of CAA top scorer Zeke Upshaw. Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley, both of whom followed Mihalich from Niagara in 2013, are now eligible, as is SMU transfer Brian Bernardi. That trio joins senior guard Dion Nesmith.

Drexel, Delaware, James Madison and Towson have all lost significant contributions, but could still pieces to offset the lost production. Damion Lee has recovered from last December’s ACL tear. He averaged 17.1 points per game for Drexel as a sophomore in 2012-2013. Gone from Delaware are four double-digit scorers, but Kyle Anderson remains, as the Blue Hens will shift to a strong defensive-minded team in 2013-2014. Two-time player of the year Jerrelle Benimon graduated last spring, but Towson does bring back Timajh Parker-Rivera and Four McGlynn while James Madison won’t have its full roster until late November.

The Dukes suspended talented scorer Andre Nation for the first five games. He missed 15 games last season due to violation of the athletic department. Northeastern has also dealt with personnel issues as starting guard Demetrius Pollard left the program earlier this month, although he remains enrolled at the university.

The CAA welcomes Elon from the Southern Conference. Elon’s Matt Matheny is one of three new CAA head coaches. Rick Pitino’s former assistant Kevin Keatts takes over at UNC-Wilmington while former Clemson assistant Earl Grant got a late start to his first season on the College of Charleston bench after the school fired Doug Wojick in early August.


In: Elon
Out: None

PRESEASON CAA PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Marcus Thornton, William & Mary

The 6-foot-4 two-guard is the conference’s top returning scorer, averaging 18.7 points per game, going for 20 or more 14 times during his junior campaign that ended with first-team all-CAA honors. Thornton back-rimmed what would have been a game-winning, buzzer-beater in the CAA championship game against Delaware; a missed shot that likely fueled his offseason workouts this summer.


  • Kyle Anderson, Delaware: The Blue Hens lost four of five double-digit scorers. Anderson, the only one to start all 35 games, should see an increase in production this season for the reigning CAA champion.
  • Scott Eatherton, Northeastern: The 6-foot-8 forward averaged a double-double last season, posting 15.9 points and 10.2 boards per game.
  • Juan’ya Green, Hofstra: One of three transfers eligible this season for a revamped roster. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game for Niagara in 2012-2013.
  • Damion Lee, Drexel: Missed all but five games last year due to an ACL tear. When Lee is healthy, Drexel is a contender and he is a player of the year candidate.



1. William & Mary
2. Northeastern
3. Hofstra
4. Drexel
5. Delaware
6. James Madison
7. Towson
8. College of Charleston
9. Elon

Delaware lands three-star guard over the likes of Memphis, Oklahoma


Monte Ross is coming off his best season at the helm of the Delaware basketball program. The Fighting Blue Hens won 25 games, winning the Colonial Athletic Conference and reaching the NCAA tournament.

Delaware enters the 2013-2014 season without Devon Saddler, Davon Usher and Jarvis Threatt. That trio made for a high-scoring perimeter attack with each of them averaging 18.0 points per game or better. Last weekend offered Ross and his staff the opportunity to reload for the future with several recruits on campus for an official visit. The Delaware football home opener against Delaware State was postponed due to weather, but the rain couldn’t put a damper on the experience for three-star guard Eli Cain, who committed to Delaware on Friday night.

He announced the commitment through his personal Twitter account. “For my college career I will be attending the University of Delaware,” he tweeted.

The Blue Hens were able to beat out two high-major programs, Memphis and Oklahoma, for Cain’s services. Boston University was the other finalist.

The 6-foot-6 Cain attends St. Benedict’s Prep (New Jersey) and ran with the Playaz Basketball Club this summer on the Nike EYBL circuit. He averaged 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game for the Peach Jam champion Playaz.

The commitment is important for Ross, as next season he will have to account for the loss of Kyle Anderson, senior guard who averaged 11.0 points per game last year. Cain is the first commitment in Delaware’s Class of 2015.

Kyle Anderson, Mitch McGary among 2014 NBA Draft winners

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It’s an annual pastime when it comes to drafts, with many looking to declare teams and players to be either winners or losers. While those answers won’t be known for a couple years (if not more, in some cases), below is an attempt to peg seven teams and players who did well for themselves Thursday night.

Among those winners are a talented distributor who went a little lower than expected, and two players whose off-court issues did not hurt their draft prospects in the end.

– Kyle Anderson (30th to San Antonio): There were some questions as to where Anderson would land, and as the first round moved towards its conclusion it looked as if the 6-foot-9 guard would still be on the board in the second round. But the reigning NBA champion Spurs grabbed Anderson with the final pick of the first round, meaning that not only will Anderson get a valuable guaranteed deal he’s also with a franchise that has consistently shown that it can develop talent.

– Utah Jazz (getting Dante Exum with the 5th pick):  After the three players rated highest on most draft lists (Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid) were taken Orlando selected Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, allowing Utah to take the player it long coveted without having to give up anything. That’s a win.

– Doug McDermott (picked 11th by Denver; traded to Chicago): While Denver wouldn’t have been a bad spot for McDermott, his being traded to a franchise looking to make a run at a title is positive development for him. And one of his best skills, the ability to shoot, is something the Bulls can certainly use after struggling offensively last season.

– Mitch McGary (21st to Oklahoma City): McGary’s college career came to a premature end due in large part to a failed drug test during the NCAA tournament, and there were some concerns in the immediate aftermath that he could wind up in the second round. But McGary never slipped that far, as he was selected 21st overall by a franchise in Oklahoma City that has experienced a lot of success in recent years.

– P.J. Hairston (26th to Miami; traded to Charlotte): Hairston’s issues with NCAA rules resulted in his being ruled ineligible, leading to his having to take the D-League route to the NBA. The result: Hairston was selected by the Heat, becoming the first D-League product to go in the first round. His rights were then traded to Charlotte, but either way that’s not a bad end to a year that was anything but smooth.

– Canada: For the second consecutive year a Canadian was taken with the top overall pick, as Cleveland selected Andrew Wiggins. In total four Canadians were selected, and while that figure is disappointing (there were hopes that Melvin Ejim and Khem Birch would be taken in the second round), having the top pick two years in a row is a positive for hoops north of the border.

– UCLA and Michigan (three draft picks apiece): Just two programs can claim to have three players picked in the 2014 NBA Draft, with the Bruins seeing all three of theirs being selected in the first round. Leading the way in draft picks is a nice selling point for UCLA head coach Steve Alford and Michigan head coach John Beilein, especially with the July open recruiting periods right around the corner.