Typically, we don’t learn a whole lot about the team at Midnight Madness, but it’s still an incredibly fun event year after year. After about seven months without Harding Basketball, the team finally returned to the court tonight, seemingly poised for another trip to the GSC Tournament in March. I’ll break down our team’s prospects as we go, but I can still make a few observations here.
Matt Hall and Lonnie Smith look ready to reprise their roles as the team’s two leading scorers. Hall needed some improvement on the defensive end, and he really needs to rebound more to be a complete player at the three or four spot. Still, his offense looks as great as ever, and he looks poised to repeat as the GSC West player of the year. Smith appeared to have hit the weight room in the offseason, showing off some newfound hops by dunking several times. Perhaps he has also improved defensively, something he needs as an undersized two-guard.
Ceso Sprewell will be back for another dominating season on the boards, and big men Jacob Thies and Jesse Bynum will return, presumably with increased roles. Cole Kee is back as the sharp-shooting swingman, and my hope is that he’ll hit his shots with a bit more regularity or develop a better inside game. Otherwise, he may not add much to the offense.
I’m assuming that this team won’t have 17 players dressed out for every game, but that’s how many players are on this year’s roster. Eleven of them are either brand new or playing for the first time after redshirting last year (Kellen Morgan and Alex Anderson). Here’s my quick impression of each new player:
Alex Anderson (RsFr. forward) – I see him as the top incoming player, as a 6’6″ guy with great athleticism and a decent shooting game. He should be able to play inside and outside and be a great complement to Matt Hall’s game, drawing away some of his defensive attention.
Brandon Sims (Sr. guard) – I thought he would be the best player in the incoming class, given his resume in small amounts of playing time at Creighton and solid JC stats. I didn’t notice anything special on the floor, but his history indicates that he’s a deadly outside shooter. I expect him to either start or be a top reserve.
Brian Chapple (So. forward) – Chapple is another athletic forward who really adds depth to our inside/outside game. He’s another slasher type with the ability to get to the basket and the ability to step out and shoot the ball. I imagine that, like Sims, he will start or be a top reserve.
Reggie Bibb (Jr. guard) – I’m writing about Bibb first of the three guys I see getting time at the point, since I think he’s the most likely starter. Bibb seems to have the best passing skills of all the players at the one, although I’m not sure how quick he is or if he will be solid defensively as a 5’9″ player. He did average 2.2 steals per game last season at Seminole State College, but most steals come from plays away from the ball.
Steven Barnett (Fr. guard) – Barnett appeared to be the quickest of the PG prospects, and his 15 point/9 assist/4 rebound average as a high school senior suggests that he may be the best combination of scorer and passer of the bunch. He didn’t really shoot the ball during the scrimmage, and Coach Morgan likes to redshirt incoming freshmen, so I’m not even sure he’ll play.
Kellen Morgan (RsFr. guard) – Morgan is bigger than the other guard prospects, but he didn’t really handle the ball much, so I’m not even sure he’s a point guard. Morgan started for three years at the highest level of Texas basketball and was his team’s leading scorer and rebounder as a junior. It may a battle of handling skills versus scoring and rebounding between Bibb and Morgan, but they all look like good options, and I’m not really comfortable saying anyone’s a better option at this point.
Alassane Savadogo (Jr. center) – Savadogo declared for the NBA draft in 2003, so one can only hope that he’s bringing a lot of talent to the table. Savadogo appears ready to take over the role filled by Yahaya Ibrahim for several years, as a large inside presence with rebounding skills. Savadogo appears to have a better scoring touch, however, and he should get to the basket several times per game. I’m guessing that Savadogo will start at center over other potential options such as Jacob Thies and Jesse Bynum.
Patrick Andrepont (Jr. forward) – Andrepont didn’t play much at Midnight Madness, but he appeared to have a decent shooting touch. His 21 point/7 rebound high school averages are very solid, but he also didn’t play much at San Jacinto CC (as a freshman…I can’t find sophomore stats). Honestly, I don’t know enough to say much else, but he was tabbed as one of our “top newcomers” in the GSC season preview that was released last night.
Other newcomers include Neal Welch, Jordan Wise, and Philip Groves, but their lack of PT in the scrimmage leads me to believe that they’re not going to see much time this year. They’re all freshmen, so I suppose they could redshirt.
Keep an eye out on these guys in the coming weeks. It should be a very exciting season.