If Eligible, Stephen Lumpkins Will Be a Force for American

Stephen Lumpkins tried the baseball thing; now he wants to do the basketball thing again.

The center left American after being drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 2011 baseball draft, and now wants to come back to fill the middle for the Eagles. The move still needs the approval of the Patriot League, a conference that isn't exactly keen on granting players extra years -- whether they come via red shirt or otherwise.

The Eagles expect that things will eventually clear the hurdles that the conference set up for Lumpkins and he will be on the floor for the team. But here at Mid-Major Madness, we don't just look at the news as reported, we go inside the numbers and find out what it really means for the program.

We started by reaching out to HoopTimeOnline.com, a site dedicated to following Patriot League hoops. Editor Chris Courogen was nice enough to provide us with his take on Lumpkins returning:

"Lumpkins return could be huge for American. The Eagles will be a very young team this season, without much depth and without a proven scorer. Lumpkins would give Jeff Jones' team all three."

So that is the good news. Lumpkins would take back some of the minutes that went to Tony Wroblicky, and presumably would be more effective in his old role.

We looked at the HOOPWAR numbers from the 2010-11 season (with Lumpkins) and the 2011-12 season (with Wroblicky filling the middle). In his junior season, Lumpkins turned in a 5.5 HW30 score, not insignificant at this level of basketball. He finished second on the team in terms of overall value, and added a 16.73 DEF100 score, good enough for tops on the team among players with significant minutes.

When Wroblicky took over last season, the minutes he turned in just didn't stack up to what Lumpkins had accomplished. Wroblicky still put up a 2.26 HW30 -- a significant improvement over the -1.0 HW30 he had in 2010-11. And his DEF100 ended at 15.0. It just wasn't what Lumpkins was able to do in the middle.

The significant thing there is that Wroblicky, while able to contend defensively -- and here Courogen gives him credit for improving over the season -- he didn't have the same scoring ability that Lumpkins brings.

Now Courogen does point out that this doesn't necessarily make American a contender for the conference title. Just adding Lumpkins to what should be a young team isn't enough to compete with the likes of Lehigh and Bucknell.

He adds this:

"If Lumpkins returns anywhere near the player he was before the year off, he will likely be the second or third best big man in the league. His presence would open things for guys on the perimeter and also for projected starting four-man Kyle Kager, a 6-8 sophomore who potentially could be the team's top scoring threat.

He does probably make them a top-four team (in the conference), which is important since the league tournament is played on home courts of the higher seed."

Bottom line, if the conference gives the OK, American moves from being an also-ran to a team with a strong inside game, and likely a chance to pull some upsets against teams that are already penciled in for the NCAA Tournament. And they get Lumpkins without him burning a scholarship. Sounds like a great deal for the Eagles.

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