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Who's Left in the Horizon League?

This offseason, the Horizon League lost a great deal of talent. Who is left to carry the torch?

Oakland's Jalen Hayes should be among the Horizon League's elite players entering 2016-17.
Oakland's Jalen Hayes should be among the Horizon League's elite players entering 2016-17.
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason has provided more questions than answers for how the Horizon League will look in 2016-17, with four of its five first-team all-league selections having moved on. Matt Tiby and Carrington Love have graduated, Kahlil Felder will take part in the NBA Draft later this month, and Paris Bass was dismissed from Detroit's program. The only returner of the bunch will be Valparaiso's Alec Peters, who withdrew from the NBA Draft and dispelled any rumors of a graduate transfer.

As we've noted, his return, paired with the many departures among the league's top players, makes Peters the front-runner for Horizon League Player of the Year. But who does that leave to accompany Peters on the all-Horizon first team? While some of the league's more recognizable stars are gone, talented players still remain:

Jalen Hayes - Oakland

Hayes will be a junior next year and has already established himself as one of the best forwards remaining in the league. He led the conference in rebounds per game last season and shot over 50 percent from the floor. Hayes will likely also be asked to step up as a leader for Oakland, who will be dealing with the loss of Felder.

Dikembe Dixson - UIC

Dixson was the league's top freshman last season and should be considered one of the league's elite players going into the next. Dixson was one of the top scoring threats in the conference last year, averaging 19.8 points per game. However, he was asked to carry a heavy load for a struggling UIC squad. Dixson was one of the league leaders in field goals attempted per game with 17.3 and could improve on his 36.9 percent shooting performance. With a wave of talented freshman joining him at UIC, Dixson may have a little help on the offensive end and not be required to carry so much of the load.

Cameron Morse - Youngstown State

Morse beat Dixson for the most points per game during conference play and will return to the Penguins as a junior next season. Morse, like Dixson, was asked to carry much of the offensive burden for his team last year. Unlike Dixson, Morse does not appear to have much help coming this upcoming season. Morse will, again, be asked to carry the Penguins in terms of scoring, which should allow him to keep his status as one of the league's best scorers.

Charles Cooper - Green Bay

Cooper maybe isn't a choice that's as clear cut as the names above. Given that I already have three forwards and just one guard on this hypothetical all-Horizon list, this spot needed to go to a guard (sorry Tai Odiase). I considered Mark Alstork of Wright State and Chris Jenkins of Detroit for this final spot, but ultimately landed on Cooper. Cooper was a key player during Green Bay's run to the conference tournament championship and averaged 15.1 points per game in conference play. Given the departures of last year's leaders, Love and Jordan Fouse, Cooper will see an expanded role on a team primed for more success than Alstork's or Jenkins'.