SUN BELT STARTING FIVE
Georgia State lost an early entrant in the NBA draft in D’Marcus Simonds and its head coach in Ron Hunter, so that appears to give the rest of the league a major opportunity to unseat the two-time conference champions. Where better to look first than the team that finished second in the UTA Mavericks. Under first-year coach Chris Odgen, the Mavs finished second after being picked to finish 11th in last year’s preseason coaches poll. Even more encouraging, UTA returns four of its five leading scorers from a year ago. The Mavs led the league in field goal percentage, rebounds and points allowed last season.
It didn’t take very long for the 2019-20 UL Ragin’ Cajuns men’s basketball team to learn what the primary emphasis of the upcoming season is g…
Player of the Year candidates
If Simonds hadn’t left after his junior season at Georgia State, it would have been a virtual slam-dunk choice. As it is, it’s about as wide-open as the overall team race appears to be. Texas State’s Nijal Pearson (16.4 pts, 5.1 rebs last year) is the only returning first-team selection, but expect the South Alabama duo of Josh Ajayi (16.4 pts, 7.4 rebs) and Trhae Mitchell (13.6 pts, 7.6 rebs) to shine brightly this season.
Of the nine newcomers on UL’s 2019-20 men’s basketball team, none know exactly how much offense was lost off last year’s squad as much as the …
The South Alabama Jaguars only finished 17-17 overall and 8-10 in league play last season, but expect coach Richie Riley’s team to make a run at the top this season. For starters, Ajayi and Mitchell return, but the Jags also add a pair of transfers in Andre Fox from High Point and Don Coleman from Cal. Fox averaged 15.7 points and 4.8 boards in the Big South two years ago, while Coleman averaged 14.2 points for the Bears in the Pac-12. Georgia Southern would be another prime candidate in this category.
The UL Ragin’ Cajuns had their share of high and low points during last season’s 19-13, 10-8 showing.
Best at-large candidate
The Sun Belt Conference is almost always a one-bid league, but when you look at non-conference schedules, the best chance of changing that if everything goes perfectly would be the UTA Mavericks. Four of UTA’s non-conference opponents – Nevada, Oregon, Gonzaga and Houston – made the NCAA Tournament field last year and another in Furman was an NIT participant. The Mavs are also scheduled to play Tulsa and UC Santa Barbara. Overall, six of the nine non-conference games will be against teams finishing in the top 100 a year ago.
When UL men’s basketball coach Bob Marlin began fall practice sessions this past week in preparation for the 2019-20 college basketball season…
Freshman to watch
UL guard Mylik Wilson will give the Cajuns a super athletic guard in the backcourt. If his shooting comes around, the Rayville High product could make an immediate impact. Other Freshman of the Year candidates could be: Arkansas State’s Caleb Fields, Appalachian State’s Donovan Gregory or UTA’s Sam Griffin.
(Editor's Note: By all standards, the 2018-19 athletic school year was a disappointing one for many UL Ragin' Cajuns programs. This is the 10t…