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College Basketball Preview: Southland | The Catch and Shoot

College Basketball Preview: Southland

The Favorite

1. Northwestern State
Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America
Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America

In his first Division I season, former junior college transfer DeQuan Hicks (pictured) dominated the Southland for 14 points on 58.3% shooting and 5.9 rebounds per game, earning Southland Newcomer of the Year honors.

Hicks will once again be a star for Northwestern State alongside Marvin Frazier Jr. and Ryan King in the Demons’ frontcourt. Frazier Jr. averaged 4.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks last season. A junior college transfer, King average 7.5 points, 5.9 boards, and 2.5 blocks at Wallace State.

In the backcourt, the Demons return Jalan West, Brison White, and Gary Stewart. West was one of the best players in the conference last season as a freshman with 10.2 points, 5.2 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. He also netted 50 three-pointers. The 5’10” sophomore will compete for a spot on the All-Southland First Team this year.


The Contenders

2. Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts went 13-5 in its first Southland season, and the Golden Eagles now return three of their top six players.

In the backcourt, Oral Roberts retains redshirt sophomores Korey Billbury and D.J. Jackson. Last season, Billbury averaged 6.1 points and 2.5 assists while Jackson posted 4.2 points and 2.6 dimes per game. The Golden Eagles will add freshman shooting guard Dederick Lee, who was ranked a three-star recruit on both Scout and Rivals.

The Golden Eagles also return senior forward Shawn Glover, who averaged 14.4 points and 5.1 rebounds last season.

Junior college transfers Adrion Webber (15.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Denell Henderson (11.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Western Illinois transfer Obi Emegano (13.1 ppg) should all make an immediate impact.


3. Stephen F. Austin

Under new head coach Brad Underwood, South Carolina’s former associate head coach, Stephen F. Austin will shoot for its second straight regular season title in the Southland. Although the Lumberjacks lost three of their top four players, that accomplishment is not out of reach.

The Lumberjacks return shooting guards Desmond Haymon (10.6 ppg, 37.4 3P%) and Thomas Walkup (4.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg), but they will rely on sophomore Trey Pinkney, who was a reserve last season, at the point. Pinkney played only 9.1 minutes per game but averaged 1.4 assists.

Junior college transfer Connor Brooks, who averaged 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds at Northern Oklahoma last season, gives the backcourt some extra depth.

At forward, Stephen F. Austin brings back Jacob Parker (7.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and adds Tanner Clayton. Clayton, another junior college transfer, averaged 9.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks at Arizona Western.


4. Sam Houston State

Sam Houston State thrived defensively last season but really struggled on offense. Still, the Bearkats managed to finish with a respectable 17-17 record. This season, they return everyone but starting point guard Darius Gatson.

Picking up the slack in the backcourt will be senior Demarcus Gatlin and sophomore Paul Baxter. Gatlin recorded 8.1 points, two assists, and 1.2 steals per game in 22 contests last season, and Baxter started 22 games as a freshman and averaged 7.5 points and 2.4 assists.

They will get support from junior college transfers Jabari Peters (13.2 ppg, 2.4 apg) and Kaheem Ransom (16.0 ppg, 2.4 apg).

In the frontcourt, the Bearkats return James Thomas and Terrance Motley. Thomas led the team in scoring (9.6 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg), and Motley averaged 6.6 points and five rebounds.


The Sleeper

5. McNeese State

McNeese State returns a handful of talented players.

Point guard Kevin Hardy is coming off a breakout sophomore season where he averaged 9.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks, earning himself a spot on the conference’s All-Defense Team. Joining him in the backcourt is senior shooting guard Ledrick Eackles, who averaged 9.2 points last season.

The Cowboys also return forwards Desharick Guidry, Craig McFerrin, and Adrian Fields. Guidry led the Cowboys with 12.6 points and 7.5 rebounds last season while McFerrin anchored the post with 8.7 points, 6.5 boards, and 1.3 blocks per game. Fields contributed 5.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest off the bench.


The Rest

6. Southeastern Louisiana

Southeastern Louisiana does not return much from last year’s already mediocre team. The Lions bring back Dre Evans (9.3 ppg, 2.4 apg, 42.3 3P%) and Onochie Ochie (6.2 ppg, 52.3 FG%), but they will rely heavily on the addition of four junior college transfers: Devonte Upson, JaMichael Hawkins, Andrew Guillory, and Julian Chiera.


7. Central Arkansas

Central Arkansas returns star guard LaQuentin Miles, who averaged 15.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. With his talent and help from DeShone McClure (5.9 ppg, 2.3 apg) and Daouda Berete (4.4 ppg, 2.0 apg), the Bears could steal a few wins from some of the better teams in the conference.


8. Lamar

Lamar has a solid frontcourt with Rhon Mitchell (10.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Amos Wilson (8.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg) returning and Tyran de Lattibeaudiere, who averaged five blocks at Vincennes University last season, entering the program.

But the Cardinals’ backcourt is thin with only Donnell Minton (5.4 ppg) returning. They will need big contribution from junior college transfers Nimrod Hilliard and Anthony Holliday.


9. Nicholls State

Nicholls State returns its deep backcourt of Dantrell Thomas (13.8 ppg), T.J. Carpenter (10.0 ppg), Amin Torres (7.7 ppg), Jeremy Smith (7.4 ppg), and Shane Rillieaux (5.1 ppg, 2.7 apg).

At forward, the Colonels return JaMarkus Horace (5.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg) and Sam McBeath, who average eight points and 4.8 rebounds as a freshman two seasons ago.


10. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Texas A&M-Corupus Christi has one of the conference’s best players in point guard John Jordan, but the Islanders do not have much else.

Jordan will keep them competitive, though. Last season, he averaged 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists.



11. Houston Baptist

Houston Baptist has a deep backcourt with Tyler Russell (11.4 ppg, 2.6 apg), Marcel Smith (7.0 ppg, 2.5 apg), Rob Lewis (8.2 ppg), and Caleb Crayton (6.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg), but the Huskies do not have any quality big men, which will make it tough for them to work their way into the top half of the conference.


12. New Orleans

New Orleans’ return to Division I conference play will not be too successful in year one. The Privateers only three players who played more than 12 minutes per game last season and do not have any notable recruits or transfers coming in.


13. Incarnate Word

Incarnate Word returns four starters as it makes the transition to Division I basketball.

In the backcourt, the Cardinals bring back Denzel Livingston, Mitchell Badillo, and Kyle Hittle. Livingston is the team’s top returning scorer with 12.6 points per game, and Badillo led them in assists with 3.9 per game. Hittle averaged 10.5 points and drained a team-leading 33 three-pointers at a 41.3% clip.

At forward, the Cardinals return Anthony Horton (8.6 ppg) and add Ian Markolf. Markolf, a former Wisconsin transfer, redshirted last season but averaged 7.5 points and 6.1 rebounds two seasons ago as a junior.


14. Abilene Christian

In its first Division I season, Abilene Christian returns only one player from last year’s club, Parker Wentz (8.3 ppg, 39.0 3p%). The Wildcats will not be terribly inexperienced with nine transfers entering the program, but how well head coach Joe Golding gets this new group to play well together will determine whether they can climb out of the Southland’s cellar.


Southland Player of the Year

DeQuan Hicks, Northwestern State

Southland Defensive Player of the Year

Kevin Hardy, McNeese State

Southland Freshman of the Year

Dederick Lee, Oral Roberts

Southland All-Conference Team

Kevin Hardy, McNeese State

Jalan West, Northwestern State

LaQuentin Miles, Central Arkansas

Shawn Glover, Oral Roberts

DeQuan Hicks, Northwestern State


*All advanced statistics are courtesy of KenPom.

Author: Jesse Kramer

Jesse Kramer is the founder of The Catch and Shoot. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He has had work featured on SI.com, College Insider, The Comeback/Awful Announcing, and 247Sports.

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