Conference Preview: Atlantic 10

Conference Preview: Atlantic 10

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

A pessimist's view of the A10 would look something like this: Jaylen Adams? Gone. Jared Terrell? Gone. Peyton Aldridge? Gone. B.J. Johnson? Gone. Justin Tillman? Gone. Joseph Chartouny? Gone? Even Dan Hurley? Gone. Such is life in a high Tier 2 conference. Excellent players are there for a while and are gone before you know it. The good news is that there is plenty of returning and upcoming talent so that the league may get more than one bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Davidson, in particular, is an interesting team. It has an excellent returning backcourt of Kellen Grady (see below) and point guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson. Coach Bob McKillop is not going anywhere and he has led the Wildcats to the Big Dance in four of the last seven seasons. While Davidson has not won a game in that span, it has taken three of the four teams to the wire and lost by seven points or fewer. On paper, the Wildcats look like the favorite again in the A10, but don't count out Saint Louis, Rhode Island (with new coach David Cox), and Saint Joseph's, who hope to remain injury free for the first time in a few seasons.

Center: Grant Golden, Richmond Spiders

The pivot for the Spiders has been a source of fantasy goodness for the last five seasons. Richmond had three productive years of T.J. Cline before the 6-foot-10 Golden took over the high-post passing spot for coach Chris Mooney. As a freshman, Golden lead

A pessimist's view of the A10 would look something like this: Jaylen Adams? Gone. Jared Terrell? Gone. Peyton Aldridge? Gone. B.J. Johnson? Gone. Justin Tillman? Gone. Joseph Chartouny? Gone? Even Dan Hurley? Gone. Such is life in a high Tier 2 conference. Excellent players are there for a while and are gone before you know it. The good news is that there is plenty of returning and upcoming talent so that the league may get more than one bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Davidson, in particular, is an interesting team. It has an excellent returning backcourt of Kellen Grady (see below) and point guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson. Coach Bob McKillop is not going anywhere and he has led the Wildcats to the Big Dance in four of the last seven seasons. While Davidson has not won a game in that span, it has taken three of the four teams to the wire and lost by seven points or fewer. On paper, the Wildcats look like the favorite again in the A10, but don't count out Saint Louis, Rhode Island (with new coach David Cox), and Saint Joseph's, who hope to remain injury free for the first time in a few seasons.

Center: Grant Golden, Richmond Spiders

The pivot for the Spiders has been a source of fantasy goodness for the last five seasons. Richmond had three productive years of T.J. Cline before the 6-foot-10 Golden took over the high-post passing spot for coach Chris Mooney. As a freshman, Golden lead the team in scoring (15.6 points), rebounding (6.7 rebounds), and rejections (1.2 blocks). Along with Golden, the team returns a pair of double-digit scorers in shooting guard Nick Sherod (14.3 points) and tiny point guard Jacob Gilyard (11.4 points). Golden should again be the focus of the Spider offense and could get even more assists as he becomes more accustomed to passing from the elbow.

Also Considered: Rashaan Hollaway, Massachusetts; Michael Hughes, Duquesne; Amadi Ikpeze, St. Bonaventure; Miles Brookins, La Salle

Freshman: Jermaine Harris, Rhode Island Rams

As noted above, the Rams are going into the season without their leading scorer and coach. Cox was an assistant with URI, so he should have a good grasp on the roster. He was able to keep Harris from looking elsewhere after Hurley went to UConn. The 6-8 forward could be an instant star for the Rams. He had a productive four-year career as a high school baller in Maryland and provided 21.3 points and 11.4 rebounds as a senior for Rock Creek Christian Academy. The Washington Post Player of the Year should get plenty of shots as the team tries to replace the scoring of Terrell (16.8 points) and E.C. Matthews (13.6 points). At least he will have an experienced point guard in Jeff Dowtin to feed him the ball.

Also Considered: Carte'Are Gordon, Saint Louis; Dylan Swingle, Duquesne, Nick Honor, Fordham; Souleymane Koureissi, Richmond

Scoring: Kellen Grady, Davidson Wildcats

Although Pipkins is the leading returning scorer in the A10, there is a good chance that his point production is eclipsed by the 6-5 Grady. The sophomore averaged 18.0 points as Aldridge's understudy in 2017-18. We know that Davidson will play at a quick pace and the team led the A10 in offensive efficiency (according to KenPom.com) last season. That shouldn't change without Aldridge. Grady scored at least 20 points 11 times and put up a season-high 39 points in a triple-overtime loss to St. Bonaventure. It was one of his three 30-point games. He hit 37.2 percent of his 3-pointers, which is certainly an acceptable rate, but was the poorest conversion rate of the top five scoring Wildcats. If the increase in shots is paralleled by a modest uptick in efficiency, Grady could have a scoring season for the ages.

Also Considered: Luwane Pipkins, Massachusetts; Pookie Powell, La Salle; Otis Livingston, George Mason; De'Riante Jenkins, VCU

Rebounding: Josh Cunningham, Dayton Flyers

In his first year as a starter for the Flyers, Cunningham had a breakout season in which he averaged 15.6 points and 8.3 rebounds. The bull in the paint converted 64.6 percent of his field goals. He opened many eyes early in the season by putting together an 18-point, 19-rebounds performance in a win over Ohio. It was the first of his 10 double-doubles and Cunningham was not slowed down by A10 competition. He had a season-high 32 points in a loss to Rhode Island. While the 6-7 forward was willing to step out an attempt 3-pointers, he only netted 23.5 percent of his long-range shots. Trey Landers and Jalen Crutcher return to the Dayton backcourt to make for an experience trio of players for coach Anthony Grant.

Also Considered: Eric Williams, Duquesne; Hasahn French, Saint Louis; Jordan Goodwin, Saint Louis; Grant Golden, Richmond

Assists: Otis Livingston, George Mason Patriots

The Patriots are going to be very intriguing. They have a backcourt that should compete with Davidson led by Livingston and Jaire Grayer. The 5-11 senior point guard Livingston provided 17.3 points, 4.4 assists, and 3.2 rebounds as the Patriots went 9-9 in the A10. The three-year starter helped GMU win six of its last nine games, but only made 25 percent of his field goals in his last two games in the A10 tournament. As a senior, the guard may look to set his teammates more often to the benefit of the team. He tallied nine assists twice last season and George Mason won both games.

Also Considered: Jeff Downtin, Rhode Island; Jon Axel Gudmundsson, Davidson; Pookie Powell, La Salle, Jacob Gilyard, Richmond

Sleepers:

Troy Holston, Saint Joseph's Hawks

One can only wonder what would have been had the Hawks been healthy the past two seasons. Players such as Lamarr Kimble, Charlie Brown, and Shavar Newkirk have all missed significant sections of their seasons. Kimble and Brown should be back along with sophomore forward Taylor Funk to make what looks like a solid foundation. Perimeter support may come from the 6-4 Holston who played two seasons at South Florida. In 2016-17, he averaged 9.7 points despite making just 34.0 percent of his field goals and 31.6 percent of his 3-pointers (on 6.6 attempts per game). With all of the Hawks offensive talent, Holston should get more open looks and improve his efficiency.

Marcus Weathers, Duquesne Dukes

Maybe breaking up the Weathers twins will be good for Marcus. His brother, Michael, is in trouble at Oklahoma State after being accused of stealing a wallet. I predicted big things for him, but maybe the 6-5 Marcus will be the surprise as a transfer with Duquesne. As a freshman at Miami (Ohio), Weathers provided 9.7 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds. Michael took the majority of the offense, but Marcus had a pair of double-doubles. The Dukes have a talented roster including rebounder Eric Williams and point guard Mike Lewis II. Weathers should be able to work his way into the rotation and be a solid fantasy add.

Also Considered: D.J. Foreman, Saint Louis; Jaylen Poysner, St. Bonaventure; Prokop Slanina, Fordham; Jarred Reuter, George Mason Patriots

Top-10
1. Kellen Grady, G, Davidson
2. Luwane Pipkins, G, Massachusetts
3. Grant Golden, F, Richmond
4. Jordan Goodwin, G, Saint Louis
5. Josh Cunningham, F, Dayton
6. Eric Williams Jr., F, Duquesne
7. Otis Livingston, G, George Mason
8. Jon Axel Gudmundsson, G, Davidson
9. Pookie Powell, G, La Salle
10. Lamar Kimble, G, St. Joe's

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Perry Missner
Missner covered college basketball for RotoWire. A veteran fantasy sports writer, he once served on the executive board for the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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