Chris Gaston: Gaston is an intriguing prospect with a lot of room for growth. While he has carried his Fordham squad over the past two seasons, he must demonstrate a refined perimeter shot to be considered at the next level. As it currently stands, he has the requisite athleticism to crash the boards (34th in the nation in Defensive Rebounding %) and attack the basket. At this stage, Gaston gets to the line very often (6th in the A-10 in Fouls Drawn), but rarely converts on these opportunities. (51.7% FT% a year ago) If he can develop some semblance of an outside shot and simultaneously improve his free throw shooting, Gaston has a chance to make the jump to the professional level. With that said, it will be an uphill battle.
Terrell Vinson: After suffering through foot injuries in his sophomore campaign, Terrell Vinson is looking to bounce back and lead his UMass club to a top 5 finish in conference play. With the loss of offensive focal point Anthony Gurley, the Minutemen are going to lean on the efforts of Vinson and wing Freddie Riley to provide the brunt of UMass’s scoring attack. And, the wiry Vinson has responded to this need by putting in the effort in the offseason to add girth. When the season begins, look for him to be featured as UMass’s top post weapon, and for him to regain the speed that he once had prior to his injury.
TJ McConnell: After an impressive showing in the Green Tree Summer League, McConnell is poised for a breakout season on a national scale. He is already one of the top true point guards in his conference, finishing 5th in the A-10 in Assist Rate as a freshman. Further, he was efficient on the offensive end, holding the 6th best Offensive Rating in the conference, while shooting a blistering 57.2% Effective Field Goal % from the floor. On the defensive end, McConnell was the 7th best in the nation at Steals %. All in all, look for McConnell to earn All-Conference honors in his second season with Duquesne.
Andrew Nicholson: After an extremely impressive junior season, Nicholson has firmly positioned himself on the NBA draft radar for this coming season. This lengthy forward is an impressive athlete that got to the line at will a season ago, finishing 1st in the A-10 in Fouls Drawn. Further, Nicholson was efficient from the field and finished 4th in his conference in Effective Field Goal %. Nicholson is also a fairly effective shot blocker and defensive rebounder. He should be on scouts’ radars all season long and will likely hear his name called on draft night.
Tu Holloway: Holloway is one of the best returning point guards in the country. He ranked 4th in his conference in Assist Rate and provided the necessary leadership for his squad. Further, he shot a 60.2% True Shooting %, while being forced to take roughly a fourth of his team’s shots. Moreover, he was 2nd in the A-10 (behind Nicholson) in Fouls Drawn. All in all, he must prove to scouts that he can hit the long ball (34.5% from beyond the arc last season) in order to receive more serious NBA consideration.
Mark Lyons: Holloway’s backcourt counterpart Lyons has made some noticeable strides over the summer, and appears poised for a big season in his own right. Look for him to improve on his shooting percentages and for him to attack more off the dribble. Lyons is also an underrated passer, and he will have ample opportunity to demonstrate this aspect of his game in front of scouts, as his Xavier team is one of the ten best programs in the country entering the year.
Ramone Moore: Moore is a fairly efficient scoring guard that plays an unselfish brand of basketball. While he finished 7th in the A-10 in Offensive Rating amongst players with at least a 24% usage, he also was able to find his teammates at the right moments. Therein, he ranked 23rd in the conference in Assist Rate and will probably function as more of a distributor this coming season.
Juan Fernandez: Fernandez is a big lead guard that is capable of hitting clutch shots for his team. He was rated very highly in the preseason polls, and for good reason. Fernandez is a willing passer and an efficient offensive threat despite the fact that he hit a shooting slump last year after sitting out due to some injuries. He finished 8th in the A-10 in Assist Rate a season ago. Defensively, he has the size, but lacks the lateral quickness to defend elite level guards. This will limit his long run potential.
Tony Taylor: Taylor quietly had one of the best seasons in the A-10 last year as the lead guard for the George Washington Colonials. He distributed the ball very well, finishing 50th in the country (and 2nd in the A-10) in Assist Rate. Further, in doing this, he was able to get to the basket and draw contact. Look for him to excel in this area once again and to have an excellent senior season overall. And, if he can lead his team towards the top half of the standings, he should earn All Conference nominations.
Carl Jones: Jones is one of the best up and coming players in the A-10. After not receiving much hype entering his college career, Jones has managed to generate considerable buzz as the leader of his St. Joes’ squad. In his second season, Jones improved in virtually every area, becoming much more consistent from behind the arc and looking for his teammates more often. Jones shot a 48% Effective Field Goal % last season, while managing to take 27% of his team’s shots. Look for Jones to step up once again this year and to be one of the few bright spots on a depleted St. Joes roster.
Chris Johnson: With the loss of world class athlete Chris Wright, Johnson is ready to embrace a position of leadership on his Flyers squad. Functioning as a secondary option at times, Johnson was able to score the basketball efficiently, hitting a 52.0% Effective Field Goal % and earning the 3rd best Offensive Rating overall in the conference. Further, the loss of Wright should open the door for him to become more of a rebounding presence. He was the 25th best Defensive Rebounder in the A-10 last season, and he should only improve in this capacity this coming year. All in all, Johnson is one of the more interesting players to keep an eye on, as he appears ready to break out as Dayton’s top weapon.
Kwamain Mitchell: After a breakout sophomore campaign, Mitchell redshirted this past season because of a suspension that was levied just prior to the start of the Fall Semester. Now he is back to lead his St. Louis squad to a potential NCAA Tournament appearance. In 2010, Mitchell was very efficient at the point guard position, posting a 52.3% Effective Field Goal %. Moreover, he was a willing passer, as evinced by his 11th best Assist Rate in the A-10. Expect him to immediately become St. Louis’s go-to option.
Mike McCall Jr.: With Mitchell redshirting in 2010-2011, McCall emerged as an intriguing point guard prospect. He finished 10th in the A-10 in Assist Rate as a freshman. This season he will look to take some of the ball pressure off of Mitchell, and will likely play off the ball at times. Look for him to score more efficiently this season and to demonstrate his long run potential as a professional prospect.
Tyreek Duren: While Duren was fairly turnover prone in his first season, he was saddled with most of the ball handling responsibilities. Look for his decision making to improve considerably in his sophomore year, and expect him to make more of an impact on the offensive end. From the get-go, he was able to distribute the ball to his teammates, as demonstrated by his 12th ranked Assist Rate amongst A-10 players. Duren will likely continue to develop as a facilitator, but should also look to shoot more often with the departures of Williams and Aaric Murray, both of which commanded most of the offensive touches.
Chris Braswell: The 6’9 Braswell is one of the more intriguing forward prospects in the A-10 this season. He is a capable athlete that is aggressive on both ends of the floor. Further, he is one of the better returning rebounders in the conference, finishing 11th in the A-10 in Offensive Rebounding % and 7th in Defensive Rebounding %. Braswell is very aggressive inside and is able to draw fouls fairly frequently. If he can convert on a higher percentage of his free throws, Braswell could be in for a breakout year.