Conference Preview: Atlantic 10

Conference Preview: Atlantic 10

This article is part of our Conference Preview series.

The Atlantic 10 looks poised to rebound from a down 2018-19 year that saw only two teams make the NCAA Tournament, as four of the conference's top-five scorers are returning. It's an interesting league from a fantasy perspective, however. The top teams return most of their rotation, and you can argue that goes seven deep with Dayton, Davidson, VCU, Richmond, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, and St. Louis. Of that core, only VCU spreads minutes out so widely that it limits fantasy production.

But the other half of the league are perennial bottom-feeders. It leads to a lot of one and two-man offenses, and terrific fantasy production as a result. Teams like Fordham and Duquesne regularly have unheralded recruits come in, impress and transfer to bigger programs, most recently the Dukes' Eric Williams, now at Oregon, and previously Eric Paschall (Fordham to Villanova). Seemingly always in a state of rebuilding, don't be hesitant early in the year to be aggressive following a big performance from individuals at UMass, St. Joes, George Washington, George Mason, and/or La Salle, particularly from front court players, as the Atlantic 10 remains dominated by guards.

Key Players

Center: Grant Golden, Richmond

Golden is the conference's leading returning scorer, putting up 17.2 ppg as a redshirt sophomore in 2018-19, chipping in 7.1 rebounds – both improvements on his 15.6 ppg and 6.7 rpg from a year prior. He's more of a stretch-five than a true center, which has his rebounding and blocks go through peaks and

The Atlantic 10 looks poised to rebound from a down 2018-19 year that saw only two teams make the NCAA Tournament, as four of the conference's top-five scorers are returning. It's an interesting league from a fantasy perspective, however. The top teams return most of their rotation, and you can argue that goes seven deep with Dayton, Davidson, VCU, Richmond, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, and St. Louis. Of that core, only VCU spreads minutes out so widely that it limits fantasy production.

But the other half of the league are perennial bottom-feeders. It leads to a lot of one and two-man offenses, and terrific fantasy production as a result. Teams like Fordham and Duquesne regularly have unheralded recruits come in, impress and transfer to bigger programs, most recently the Dukes' Eric Williams, now at Oregon, and previously Eric Paschall (Fordham to Villanova). Seemingly always in a state of rebuilding, don't be hesitant early in the year to be aggressive following a big performance from individuals at UMass, St. Joes, George Washington, George Mason, and/or La Salle, particularly from front court players, as the Atlantic 10 remains dominated by guards.

Key Players

Center: Grant Golden, Richmond

Golden is the conference's leading returning scorer, putting up 17.2 ppg as a redshirt sophomore in 2018-19, chipping in 7.1 rebounds – both improvements on his 15.6 ppg and 6.7 rpg from a year prior. He's more of a stretch-five than a true center, which has his rebounding and blocks go through peaks and valleys, but the Spiders have very limited front court depth behind Golden, making him a lock for 30+ minutes. There may be a handful of four-to-five rebound games, but there will also be a handful of 30+ point evenings for Golden, who's season-long stats will be as stable as can be.

Also considered: Osun Osunniyi, St. Bonaventure; Michael Hughes, Duquesne, Hasahn French, St. Louis

Freshman: Tre Mitchell, Massachusetts

Mitchell is one of the highest-ranked recruits to come to the A-10 in some time, choosing the Minutemen over the likes of Connecticut, Syracuse and Notre Dame. He ranked 82nd nationally according to Rivals.com, and should have ample opportunity to contribute immediately. UMass lost leading scorer Luwane Pipkins to transfer (Providence), and the graduation of big man Rashaan Holloway opens up plenty of opportunity in the post for the 6-foot-9, 235 pounder. Preseason/summer tours aren't a hugely successful indicator, but Mitchel put up 70 points in three contests and pulled down 15 boards in the Minutemen's first outing. He may struggle some with foul trouble, but the talent is real as is the opportunity, and there's even the chance of center eligibility.

Also considered: Terrence Hargrove Jr., St. Louis; Yuri Collins, St. Louis; Ayinde Hikim, La Salle

Scoring: Jon Axel Gudmundsson, Davidson

Teammate Kellan Grady (17.3 ppg) actually led the Wildcats' in scoring, but this column doesn't feel right without Gudmundsson being featured somewhere. The reigning A-10 Player of the Year averaged 16.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.3 steals nightly, leading the team in each of the final three categories. With the top-six players in minutes returning for Davidson, there's not much room for growth statistically, but there's also no reason to think roles will vary either. 

Also considered: Jacob Gilyard, Richmond; Jeff Dowtin, Rhode Island; Kellan Grady, Davidson

Rebounding: Cyril Langevine, Rhode Island

Langevine enjoyed quite the breakout year in 2018-19. His minutes nearly doubled to 32.5 after seeing just 18.1 the year prior, and it led to a conference-best 9.9 rebounds nightly, to go along with 14.7 points and 1.5 blocks. He's someone who can go on weekly tears, posting six straight double-doubles in November/December, and five straight during February (17 total throughout the season.) It's possible his minutes slide back slightly, but with the A-10 being such a guard-heavy league, most of the conference's leading rebounders are scoring liabilities. As such, Langevine is in a class of his own among forwards, barring Dayton's Obi Toppin doubling his board work.

Also considered: Marcus Santos-Silva, VCU; Hasahn French, St. Louis, Osun Osunniyi, St. Bonaventure

Assists: Sincere Carry, Duquesne

Seven of the league's top-10 distributors return in 2019-20, with five averaging better than 4.0 apg. Carry led the conference as a freshman at 5.8, and with off-guard Eric Williams transferring to Oregon, he figures to see his overall offensive role grow. Carry's 6-1, 180 pound frame has ample speed, regularly penetrating into the lane for easy dishing opportunities to quality big men in Marcus Weathers and Michael Hughes. While a slight increase in scoring and a slight decrease in assists is possible, if not probable, Carry will come at a fraction of the cost of UR's Jacob Gilyard (an admittedly better scorer), and help cover you in assists throughout the year.

Also considered: Jalen Crutcher, Dayton; Jacob Gilyard, Richmond; Jared Bynum, Saint Joseph's

Sleepers

Ryan Daly, G, Saint Joseph's

Outside of Jared Bynum and Taylor Funk, it's difficult to know how the Hawks' rotation will work out under new head coach Billy Lange. Those two averaged a total of 19.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists, and are better role players than options to replace Charlie Brown's 19.0 points and 6.2 boards from last year. Enter Daly, a transfer from Delaware who sat out last season. He averaged 16.2 points and 6.2 boards as a sophomore a year after being named the CAA's Rookie of the Year the season prior, averaging 16.0 ppg and 7.4 rpg, leaving as a 1,000 point scorer after two years. 

Arnaldo Toro, F, George Washington

The Colonials' roster is in complete rebuild mode under first-year coach Jamion Christian, so roles aren't clearly defined. It's going to be a long season for GW, but bad teams have provided great fantasy players in the conference on a regular basis, and Toro could be poised for a breakout campaign. He was off to a solid start last season, averaging 10.1 points and 9.3 rebounds across 29.4 minutes, but played only seven games before missing the remainder of the year due to a hip injury. We can't hammer home the point enough that the A-10 is incredibly backcourt heavy. At 6-foot-8, 246 pounds, Toro has size few can match in conference. 

Carl Pierre, G, Massachusetts

For as high as I am on Mitchell's prospects above, the Minutemen are certainly going to need a stable presence in their backcourt to at best complement him, and at worst carry him. Pierre shot only 40.2 percent last season, and averaged just 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists, so we're not going to label him a well-rounded contributor. That said, with Pipkins off to Providence, he's the clear lead-guard in Amherst. He had six 20+ point games last year, five coming in league play, and four coming in February. If Mitchell can anchor the entire and force defenses to respect him, it's going to open up Pierre for better looks, leading to more consistency from the outside, and the peripheral numbers seemingly can only go up. 

Also considered: Justin Kier, George Washington; Nick Sherod, Richmond; Jordan Goodwin, St. Louis; Luka Brajkovic, Davidson

Top 10*

  1. Jon Axel Gudmundsson, G, Davidson
  2. Obi Toppin, F, Dayton
  3. Grant Golden, C, Richmond
  4. Cyril Langevine, F, Rhode Island
  5. Kellan Grady, G, Davidson
  6. Jacob Gilyard, G, Richmond
  7. Marcus Evans, G, VCU
  8. Kyle Lofton, G, St. Bonaventure
  9. Jeff Dowtin, G, Rhode Island
  10. Sincere Carry, G, Duquesne

*Note: These rankings are at the discretion of the article author and may not necessarily correspond with Rotowire's official 2019-20 player rankings.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Bennett
Bennett covers baseball, college football and college basketball for RotoWire. Before turning to fantasy writing, he worked in scouting/player development for the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos. He's also a fan of the ACC.
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