While the 2015-16 season has yet to get underway, some in-season tournaments have already begun the process of finalizing teams for the 2016-17 campaign. Wednesday evening the Paradise Jam revealed its eight-team field for the 2016 edition of the event, which is scheduled to be played November 18-21, 2016 at the University of the Virgin Islands.
NC State, which has reached the NCAA tournament in each of the last four seasons under head coach Mark Gottfried, is part of the event as are Andy Kennedy’s Ole Miss Rebels. Completing the field are Creighton, Loyola-Chicago, Oral Roberts, Montana, Saint Joseph’s and Washington State.
Of the eight teams just two have made prior appearances at the Paradise Jam. Phil Martelli’s Saint Joseph’s team finished fifth in 2009, with Ole Miss finishing third two years later. Washington State may have the most interesting connection to this tournament, however.
The father of forward Josh Hawkinson, who was the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player last season and will be a senior in 2016-17, created the Paradise Jam back in 2000. That should make for a fun return to the Virgin Islands for Josh next November. Nels Hawkinson is the executive director of Basketball Travelers, a company some may be familiar with as they’ve set up foreign tours for many college basketball programs over the years.
While NC State and Ole Miss are the lone teams in this field to reach the NCAA tournament last season, Montana is one of the favorites in the Big Sky entering the 2015-16 season and ORU is expected to be a factor in the Summit League. Scott Sutton’s Golden Eagles were picked to finish third in the Summit League preseason coaches poll.
Loyola (IL) lands former Colorado commit Satterwhite
With three seniors in its perimeter rotation, adding a guard in the Class of 2016 was something Loyola (IL) likely wanted to do. Sunday Porter Moser’s program managed to do just that, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Cameron Satterwhite announced that he’d committed to the Missouri Valley Conference program.
Satterwhite is Loyola’s first verbal commitment in the Class of 2016, and he’s a talented one at that. Satterwhite, who attends Gilbert Christian HS in Gilbert, Arizona and played for the Arizona Power program this summer, was originally a Colorado verbal commit. However things changed in the aftermath of Satterwhite suffering a torn ACL while playing in Las Vegas in July.
Satterwhite reopened his recruitment last month after reportedly being asked by Colorado to reclassify to 2017 to ensure that his knee would be back to full strength upon his arrival.
“Cam didn’t want to do that,” Ortega said to Gershon of reclassifying to 2017. “Talking to Cam and his family, they didn’t want to figure out what to do for a year as a post grad or something else. Even if it means he has to go to a lower conference.”
Of Loyola’s three seniors on the perimeter Earl Peterson and Devon Turk were the most productive last season, with Peterson averaging 8.7 points per game and Turk not far behind at 8.5 ppg. Jeff White averaged 2.9 ppg but was second on the team in assists with 82.
Satterwhite and Iowa State transfer Clayton Custer (sitting out this season) will join the perimeter rotation next season, with Milton Doyle, Donte Ingram and Ben Richardson among those who will have eligibility remaining.
Video credit: AZ Finest
Former Iowa State guard finds a new home in the Missouri Valley Conference
The Ramblers will be without Custer for next season, due to NCAA transfer restrictions, but this is a nice pickup for them at point guard. Although Custer never found his footing at Iowa State, the Valley could be a better fit for him and one of his former high school teammate, Ben Richardson, is currently on the roster.
2014-15 Season Preview: How does Wichita State follow its two-year stretch?
The Missouri Valley has seen plenty of success in the NCAA Tournament over the last 10 years, but nothing like Wichita State‘s run to the Final Four followed by a 35-game winning streak to start the season.
The Shockers had a tremendous two-year run and return a lot of talent, including one of the nation’s best backcourts in juniors Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker and senior Tekele Cotton. Gregg Marshall’s ballclub also has a deep group of newcomers and senior Darius Carter should step up inside after some flashes of strong play last season as a junior.
The team that can challenge Wichita State the most could be Northern Iowa.
Ben Jacobsen’s group returns 91 percent of the scoring and rebounding from last season’s 10-8 MVC team including all-league first team forward Seth Tuttle, a 6-foot-8 senior. Senior point guard Deon Mitchell, junior shooting guard Matt Bohannon and junior Wes Washpun are all back on the perimeter and the front court has some depth as well. This team is deep enough to contend for postseason consideration.
Illinois State had minimal experience entering last season and won 18 games. Now the Redbirds have six new players, four junior-college transfers and return the senior starting backcourt of Daishon Knight and Bobby Hunter as well as center Reggie Lynch. Paris Lee also returns at point guard and this year’s team should have more depth and athleticism.
Returning for Missouri State is 2013 Conference Freshman of the Year Marcus Marshall, who should give the Bears a huge boost. The 6-foot-3 Marshall averaged 14.3 points per game in 12 games last season before going down to injury. Sophomore shooting guard Austin Ruder can shoot from the outside and the team has some junior college forwards that should compete in the rotation.
Evansville returns all five starters from a team that finished 6-12 last season. But those starters gained valuable experience and 6-foot-2 junior guard D.J. Balentine averaged 22.8 points per game last season. Junior big man Egidijus Mockevicius averaged 10.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game on 62 percent shooting. The team also gets more depth on the bench in recruiting and should have some scoring punch.
After making the MVC Tournament championship game, Indiana State only returns senior forward Justin Gant, but MVC Sixth Man of the Year Khristian Smith returns and will rely on a lot of inexperienced or new pieces to perform on the perimeter.
Some talent is in place at Bradley, which adds Illinois transfer Mike Shaw and top-100 forward Josh Cunningham to the roster, but the Braves are mostly unproven and Geno Ford has only one winning season in three in Peoria.
PRESEASON MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ron Baker, Wichita State
Baker averaged 13.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game last season as one of the most complete two-guards in the nation. Tremendously efficient, as a sophomore, the 6-foot-3 Baker shot 45 percent from the field, 38 percent from the three-point line and 84 percent from the free-throw line. He’s been a starter for two straight great teams.
THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-MVC TEAM:
Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State – The 5-foot-11 junior is one of the best floor leaders in the country, averaging 11.6 points, 5.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.
Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa – The 6-foot-8 senior is coming off of a first-team all-league season in which he averaged 15.4 points and 8 rebounds per game in 2013-14.
D.J. Balentine, Evansville – The nation’s seventh leading scorer at 22.8 points returns for his junior season. The 6-foot-2 guard can fill it up.
Anthony Beane, Southern Illinois – Another 6-foot-2 junior, Beane moved to point guard and thrived last season and averaged 14.7 points per game on 47 percent shooting.
In his first season at Loyola (Chicago) after transferring in from Kansas, guard Milton Doyle accounted for 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per contest for head coach Porter Moser. As a result Doyle won Missouri Valley Freshman and Newcomer of the Year honors, and even more was expected of the Chicago native in 2014-15.
Unfortunately for the Ramblers they’re going to be without their best player, as the program announced Friday that Doyle is out indefinitely after suffering a torn labrum in his right (shooting) shoulder. How much time Doyle misses remains to be seen, but this is a big loss for a team that won ten games and finished last (4-14) in its MVC debut last season.
According to the school release Doyle will go through a rehabilitation program for five to six weeks, with a decision to be made then as to whether or not he’ll ned to undergo surgery. If Doyle does need surgery at that point, the school stated that it could take between seven and nine months for him to return to the court.
Doyle was one of four starters to return for the Ramblers, with guards Joe Crisman and Jeff White and forward Christian Thomas being the others. In addition to those returning starters, Loyola added seven newcomers with four being perimeter players. Among those additions is Coffeyville CC guard Earl Peterson, who averaged 16.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game last year.
With Doyle out of the lineup, Peterson is one player who will have to step forward if Loyola is to improve its standing within the Missouri Valley.
Loyola (IL) landed a nationally-ranked guard into its Class of 2015 as three-star Roosevelt Smart of Sunrise Christian Academy (Kansas) announced that he had committed to the Ramblers.
I am blessed to announce that I’ve decided to commit to Loyola University,” he tweeted. “Proud to be a Rambler!!”
The 6-foot-2 guard, who previously attended St. Viator in suburban Chicago, joins JuCo power forward Maurice Kirby in Loyola’s Class of 2015. Smart, who is ranked No. 146 overall in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals, held offers from Creighton, Northern Illinois and Wright State.
During the summer he played with the Illinois Wolves in the Under Armour Association. For the 11-4 Wolves, Smart was the team’s leading scorer at 12.9 points per game. He also shot 44 percent (17-of-39) from beyond the 3-point line.
Given all of Wichita State’s success over the past two years it isn’t a surprise that recruits are giving the Missouri Valley Conference some consideration. However, it isn’t just the Shockers who have been able to land highly-regarded commits. In April, Bradley landed a commitment from four-star small forward Josh Cunningham.