Last year was a season of seniors. Six of MMM's top 10 were seniors and seven of them have moved on to greener pastures. Reigning Player of the Year Ray McCallum Jr. decided to forgo his senior season and was drafted in the second round by the Sacramento Kings. Seniors Ryan Broekhoff and Nick Minnerath also leave their seats on the First Team All-Conference. There were 3 other seniors on the second team. So who will be the future stars of the Horizon League? Components to figuring out the top 10 is the handy tool HOOPWAR, me watching the games from last season, and what potential players have.
10. Lexus Williams (Guard) and Clay Yeo (G/F), Valparaiso, Freshmen
With the departure of 6 seniors, including the Player of the Tournament Eric Buggs and First Team All-Conference Ryan Broekhoff, Valpo is going to rely heavily on Freshman and transfers. Williams and Yeo are most likely going to be able to begin the season in the starting lineup, with Keith Carter needing to wait half a season before he's able to play. Yeo could see himself as a full season starter at the third guard if he performs well. Williams could put himself in line to be the 6th man, and a potential 6th man of the year, backing up Carter and LeVonte Dority.
9. The starting five, Wright State, 2 seniors, 2 Juniors, 1 Sophomore
Wright State is the exact opposite of Valparaiso, returning their entire team from last year. They aren't led by a star player but this is the epitome of "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts". Senior Forward Cole Darling,who led the Raiders in points and rebounding, is returning after an injury caused him to miss the final 10 games. Quite possibly their best athlete and their best shooter, Junior Guard Reggie Arceneaux is a name people are going to need to learn how to spell. Sophomore swingman J.T. Yoho not only has one of the best last names to chant, but has an outstanding shooters touch hitting 46.3% of his 80 three pointers attempted. Senior Forward Jerran Young led the team in HOOPWAR numbers, based primarily on his defensive proficiency. Rounding out their starters is Junior Forward Kendall Griffin, who shoots 48% of his shots from the field.
8. Bryn Forbes, Cleveland St., Guard, Sophomore
The returning Newcomer of the Year, Forbes led the team in scoring with 12.6 ppg, shot an outstanding 40% from 3 point range and added 3.5 rebounds per game. His second year in the league should lead him to only improve on an up and coming Vikings team.
7. Duke Mondy, Oakland, Guard, Senior
I have a feeling that Oakland's totals might be inflated based on last year's really bad Summit League, I mean they were ranked 19th in RPI last year. I only got to see Oakland play one game last year so most of my knowledge of Oakland is based on their stats and a game they played against Valpo (Quite possibly the worst game Valpo played of the season).
With that really bad caveat, I'm excited to see the three Oakland players on the list. I'm not sure how Mondy gets the shots he does what with Travis Bader taking all the shots he does, but he gets 10 shots a game. He's also a stat sheet stuff averaging 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals a game. His numbers might see a decrease with the increase of talent he'll be playing against, but I still see him being potential first team all conference player with his abilities.
6. Alec Brown, UWGB, Center, Senior
I'm not as sold on Brown as many others who follow the league are. You can't teach size, and at 7'1" he's clearly got a lot of it, but he's a stringbean who can get beat by larger bodied centers around the league. Last season in the 19 games against league opponents (Including the 3 tournament games) he averaged only 5.4 rebounds per game. He plays a lot smaller than he should in my opinion, and unless he hit the weight room during the offseason, he'll get pushed around again by shorter, larger bodied bigs. When you're 7'1" you should have more than one game of double digit rebounds. His 14.1 ppg isn't enough for this author to over look his poor non-scoring numbers. I hope for his sake he does improve on his rebounding, blocked shots and FG%.
5. Corey Petros, Oakland, Center, Junior
Petros is the one player I'm most interested in watching this season. He had seven double doubles last season and would have led the Horizon in rebounding. His one game against Valpo was a poor showing, but he still ended up with 12 points and 6 rebounds. I expect him to average a double double this season.
4. Jordan Fouse, UWGB, Forward, Sophomore
Of the returning players he was 2nd in rebounds (t1st in defensive), 2nd in blocks, 3rd in steals, and 9th in assists, all this as a freshman. The 6'7" forward is as athletic as some of the best players in the country. This is someone who is invaluable as a role player especially when you have two guys who can score. If he increases his role offensively then I could see Fouse being a Player of the Year candidate.
3. Travis Bader, Oakland, Guard, Senior
He shoots. A lot. A new guy to the league I've not seen him play before, but looking at his statistics he likes to score and he isn't afraid to take the shots to get to his 22.1 ppg. He had 20 field goal attempts four different times last year and shot under 30% from the field TEN times. He AVERAGED 11 three point attempts per game. The senior Golden Grizzly doesn't do much outside of scoring, but he is a threat to put up 30 points and when you have that you can't discount it.
2. Keifer Sykes, UWGB, Guard, Junior
Sykes was the best point guard in the conference last year, and he was outshined by Ray Jr.'s "NBA prospects". In his second season he scored 15.9 points per game and went off for 31 points twice, including the Horizon League semifinal game against Valparaiso. His HOOPWAR/30 of 4.449 and Offensive totals are good for the 3rd best amongst returning players. Along with Fouse and Brown, Sykes leads an extremely talented team that is primed to be a force in the Horizon.
1. Kendrick Perry, YSU, Guard, Senior
This kid is a star. I think he was the 2nd best player behind Ryan Broekhoff last year, unfortunately for both Ray Jr. took home the PotY award. The first team all conference player last year improved his scoring output, took less shots, and was pulling in 5.5 rebounds per game. He also isn't a blackhole like Bader or Aaron, with 4.1 assists per game. He improved his Free Throw shooting last season immensely raising his percentage from a pedestrian 70.6% to an outstanding 84.5%. Add that improved shooting with some solid defense and Perry is your runaway for pre-season PotY.
So that rounds out the Mid-Major Madness top 10 players (or so) of the Horizon League.