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Keeping Up with the Horizon League

Quite a bit has changed in the Horizon League since the end of the season.

A great deal has changed in the Horizon League since Green Bay cut down the nets in Detroit.
A great deal has changed in the Horizon League since Green Bay cut down the nets in Detroit.
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The first annual Motor City Madness tournament came to a close on March 8, culminating with a Horizon League championship for Green Bay. Just three months later, the league has seen tremendous changes among coaches and players. Here's a look back at some of the turnover:

Coaching Changes

Out of the 10 schools in the Horizon League, four will have new head coaches patrolling the sideline in 2016-17. Surprisingly, all four of those schools finished over .500 and in the top six in the league standings.

Three coaches were fired at the conclusion of the season: Billy Donlon of Wright State, Rob Jeter of Milwaukee and Ray McCallum of Detroit. Donlon was the most surprising of the three firings, having led the Raiders to 22 wins and the conference championship game.

The fourth coach to leave was Bryce Drew, who took the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. Drew had been at the center of rumors surrounding coaching vacancies the past few years and finally got an offer he could not pass up.

All four schools have since hired new head coaches and begun to move forward. Out of the four, Wright State was the only program to hire a candidate with prior head coaching experience, tabbing former South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy to lead the team. Valparaiso decided to hire internally, promoting assistant coach Matt Lottich to the position. Both Milwaukee and Detroit hired assistant coaches from the University of Michigan to take over as their head coaches. In Milwaukee, LaVall Jordan takes over and, in Detroit, Bacari Alexander is the new head coach.

With the four new hires, seven of the 10 Horizon League programs will be led by a coach in either his first or second season at his respective school. That did not seem to matter much in this past season though, as Linc Darner led Green Bay to the Horizon League Tournament title in his first season at the helm.

Players Leaving

As is often the case when head coaches depart, so do players. Milwaukee was hit particularly hard by the transfer bug, losing all-league second team selection Jordan Johnson (UNLV), along with Akeem Springs (Minnesota) and Austin Arians (Wake Forest). What would have been an experienced team in the upcoming season will now put a great deal of faith into newcomers.

The other schools with coaching changes also lost key contributors. All-league first team selection Paris Bass was dismissed from Detroit's program and will likely transfer. Valparaiso lost one of its top options off the bench in David Skara (Clemson) and Wright State will be without Daniel Mortensen after he came into his own during the Horizon League Tournament.

All-Freshman team selection Jordan Andrews of Youngstown State also transferred after establishing himself as a bright spot in the future of Penguins basketball.

Beyond that, two players have entered their names for consideration in the NBA Draft. Horizon League Player of the Year Kahlil Felder has hired an agent and will not be able to return to Oakland next season. Valparaiso's Alec Peters has worked out for various NBA teams and has until the end of the day to withdraw his name. If he does come back to school, it might not be at Valparaiso, since he will likely be eligible for a graduate transfer if he so desires.

Incoming Players

UIC used the spring signing period to solidify the best recruiting class in the Horizon League, both in quantity and quality. The Flames will welcome five incoming freshmen this season, including highly touted recruits K.J. Santos, Marcus Ottey, and Godwin Boahen. UIC will, once again, have a young team, but the talent will certainly be there for the Flames to find success.

Northern Kentucky will also bring in five freshmen for next season. Among these freshmen are Kentucky Mr. Basketball winner Carson Williams and Mason Faulkner, who was a finalist for the same award.

Two other incoming freshmen to keep an eye on will be Trevor Anderson at Green Bay and Micah Bradford at Valparaiso. Both players will have significant chances to contribute early on. Anderson could see minutes with the departure of Carrington Love to graduation. Bradford also would seem to have an inside track to immediate minutes after Keith Carter was denied his appeal for another year of eligibility.

Incoming transfers generally have a great impact on the Horizon League as well. While transfers could and likely will continue to come in, the addition of Stevie Clark to Oakland's program stands out the most and will have an immediate impact on the Golden Grizzlies. Clark comes from junior college Arkansas Baptist, but was a highly rated recruit coming out of high school and started his college career at Oklahoma State. Clark will look to pick up where Felder left off for the Golden Grizzlies.