Saturday, December 7, 2013

2013-14 Conference-USA Preview

Conference-USA is going to look differently because Memphis is out of the conference, but a few good teams remain as there are six teams that are capable of reaching the NCAA Tournament, which means this will make this conference more competitive than anticipated.

With this in mind, here is how each team projects to finish in Conference-USA.

6-9 forward, Elijah Pittman of the Marshall Thundering Herd could be the frontrunner to be the conference's player of the year for the 2013-14 season.

1. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Last Year's Record: 27-7
Postseason Results: Lost in the 2nd Round of the NIT

Projected Starters:
F Michale Kyser (Jr.)
F Chris Anderson (Sr.)
G Alex Hamilton (So.)
G Raheem Appleby (Jr.)
G Kenneth Smith (Jr.)

Key Players:
F Michale Kyser (Jr.), F Chris Anderson (Sr.)

Michale Kyser is a 6-9 forward who averaged 5.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game last year.  He's a tremendous shot blocker, as he can swat many shots to protect the paint.  Kyser also can get some steals to help his team.

He also is a good rebounder that can haul in boards on both sides of the ball.  But he can be foul prone, though, as he struggles to log heavy minutes on the floor on a game to game basis.

As an offensive player, he can score around the basket, but will need to improve his jumper.  He's an adequate ball handler for a big man and limits turnovers, and also is a willing passer.

In summary, Kyser is a very good defensive player that could be one of the best prospects to watch in this conference.  He could be a potential second round pick next season, but will have to improve offensively and must stay away from foul trouble.  Even so, he should help Lousiana Tech significantly this season.

Chris Anderson is a 6-6 swingman that averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last year.  He's a very good shooter who can make shots from all over the floor, and can make a lot of three-point shots from beyond the arc.  He also can draw and make many free throws to help his team get additional scores.  Also, he is a fairly good ball handler that can limit turnovers on offense.

He also is a very good rebounder for a player his size, and will haul in many boards when he is on the court.  Anderson also is an above average defender at the collegiate level, as he is a fairly good shot blocker for a player his size, and can collect many steals on the floor.  However, he is extremely foul prone, which usually prevents him from logging heavy minutes in games.

To sum it up, Anderson is a shooter that can also rebound the basketball.  His ability to score in a variety of ways, as well as his ability to rebound and make some plays defensively should help benefit Louisiana Tech quite often this season.

Role Players Worthy of Note:
G Kenyon McNeail (Sr.), G Alex Hamilton (So.), G Raheem Appleby (Jr.), G Kenneth Smith (Jr.), G Cordarius Johnson (Sr.),  F Isaiah Massey (Jr.), G Jaron Johnson (Sr.)

McNeail is a 6-1 combo guard that excels at shooting and score the basketball.  He is a three-point shooting specialist who excels at making threes from beyond the arc.  He also is a good defender, and can get plenty of steals on the court.  He'll give good minutes for Louisiana Tech this season.

Hamilton is a 6-4 guard that excels as an athletic slasher and facilitator on the court.  He is an efficient scorer who draws lots of free throws upon opposing defenses, and is a solid passer and ball handler that can get his fair share of assists for his team.

Also, Hamilton can help out on the boards, and is a good defender that will get many steals on the floor.  He can do many things on the floor, which should help his team a lot this season.

Appleby is a 6-4 guard that can score the basketball and also is a good ball handler that can limit turnovers.  He also can force opponents to commit turnovers.  He projects to be an adequate role player this season.

Smith is a 6-3 point guard that can really pass the basketball.  He collects a lot of assists, and also is a very good defender, as he collects many steals in addition.  Though he is not a very good shooter, he'll collect plenty of free throws to make up for it.  He has all of the skills to be a solid player for Louisiana Tech this season.

Cordarius Johnson is a 6-6 swingman that can score the basketball, and also is a good ball handler that limits turnovers.  He can also grab some rebounds, and is a good defender that can force opponents to commit turnovers.  He projects to be an adequate role player this year.

Massey is a 6-8 forward that can rebound and block shots, and swats shots at a very good rate when he is on the floor.  He also is a good free throw shooter for a player his size, but is also foul prone.  He projects to be a fairly good role player this year.

Jaron Johnson is a 6-6 swingman that can score and rebound the basketball.  He is an efficient scorer that can attack the basket to garner his scores, and also is a solid rebounder who will crash the glass.  He projects to be a fairly good role player this season.

Season Outlook:

Louisiana Tech looks to be the favorite to win the conference.  They have a talented frontcourt and boast plenty of athleticism, are a well-rounded team in Conference-USA, and they have an experienced group of players and coaches that will give them a good shot to get to the NCAA Tournament this season.

Overall: B-
Frontcourt: B-
Backcourt: C+
Bench: C-
Coaching: C+
Defense: A-

2. Charlotte 49ers
Last Year's Record: 21-12
Postseason Results: Lost in the 1st Round of the NIT

Projected Starters:
C Mike Thorne Jr. (So.)
F Willie Clayton (So.)
G Pierria Henry (Jr.)
G Terrence Williams (Jr.)
G Ben Cherry (Sr.)

Key Players:
F Willie Clayton (So.), G Pierria Henry (Jr.)

Willie Clayton is a 6-9 forward that averaged 8.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last year, and also made 58% from the field.  He is an efficient scorer that can finish plays inside the paint, and draws many fouls upon opposing defenses to help his team get baskets.  Also, he can take bigger players to score off the dribble, but is a bit turnover prone, and will need to improve his passing skills.

He also is a very good rebounder, and will haul in lots of boards on both sides of the ball.  Clayton can also get the occasional block and steal, but can be prone to committing fouls on the floor.  In all, his ability to score efficiently and to grab many rebounds should help Charlotte immensely this season.

Pierria Henry is a 6-4 guard that averaged 10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 2.5 steals per game last season.  He's an athletic slasher who can draw plenty of free throws on the court, and can attack the hoop to garner most of his scores.  However, he'll need to improve his ability to shoot the basketball, as his shooting percentages tend to be rather low throughout college basketball seasons.

Henry is a very good passer for a player his size, and can collect plenty of assists for his team.  He also is a good ball handler, and can play the point or off the ball, but can commit a turnover from time to time.

He is a solid rebounder as he can pull down some boards to help his team on the glass.  Also, he is a very good defender, as he can collect many steals, and will force opponents to commit plenty of turnovers.  He also is a good shot blocker for a player his size.  In all, Henry looks to be one of the best prospects in this conference for the 2015 NBA Draft, and should help his team get plenty of wins this season.

Notable Role Players:
G Ben Cherry (Sr.), G Shawn Lester (So.), C Mike Thorne Jr. (So.), G Terrence Williams (Jr.), F Marcus Bryan (Fr.), G Denzel Ingram (So.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

Charlotte has a talented team, but they look to be a notch below the top level.  Likely, they'll be fighting with the other teams for the at-large bids available in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.  Charlotte is off to a good start this year, and at least should secure a bid to a postseason tournament, if not to the NCAAs at the end of the season.

Overall: C+
Frontcourt: B-
Backcourt: C
Bench: C+
Coaching: C+
Defense: B

3. UTEP Miners
Last Year's Record: 18-14
Postseason Results: N/A

Projected Starters:
C Matt Willms (Fr.)
F John Bohannon (Sr.)
F Julian Washburn (Jr.)
G McKenzie Moore (Jr.)
G C.J. Cooper (Jr.)

Key Players:
F-C John Bohannon (Sr.), G Justin Crosgile (Sr.)

John Bohannon is a 6-11 big man who averaged 10.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 1.4 assists per game, and made 58% from the field last year.  He's an efficient scorer who can score around the basket, and also can draw fouls upon opposing defenders.  Bohannon is also a good passer for a player his size, but is fairly prone to committing turnovers.

He's a good rebounder who will collect plenty of boards on the court.  Bohannon also is a good shot blocker and can help his team protect the paint, but also is a little bit foul prone.  His ability to provide inside scoring, rebounding, shot blocking, and defensive skills should help UTEP significantly this season.

Justin Crosgile is a 5-11 point guard that played for Eastern Washington last season, and averaged 14.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.7 steals per game, and also made 36% of his three-pointers.  He's a fairly good shooter that excels at making outside shots from beyond the arc.  Crosgile is also a steady playmaker, as he possesses solid passing and ball handling skills, and tends to make good decisions with the ball in his hands.

He is a very good rebounder for a player his size.  Also, he is an above average defender, as he can get plenty of steals on the defensive end as well.  In summary, Crosgile is a good addition to UTEP's ball club, and should help them a lot at the point this season.

Notable Role Players:
G McKenzie Moore (Jr.), C Matt Willms (Fr.), F Julian Washburn (Jr.), G C.J. Cooper (Jr.), F Vince Hunter (Fr.), F Cedrick Lang (Jr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

UTEP has a talented team, but they look to be a notch below the top level.  Likely, they'll be fighting with the other teams for the at-large bids available in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.  UTEP has held their own against tough teams at the start of the year, and should be able to secure a bid to a postseason tournament at the end of the season.

Overall: C+
Frontcourt: B-
Backcourt: C
Bench: C
Coaching: C+
Defense: B

4. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Last Year's Record: 28-6
Postseason Results: Lost in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament

Projected Starters:
F Shawn Jones (Sr.)
F Neiko Hunter (Sr.)
G Kerry Hammonds II (Sr.)
G Jaqawn Raymond (So.)
G Tweety Knight (Sr.)

Key Players:
F Shawn Jones (Sr.), G Kerry Hammonds II (Sr.), G Tweety Knight (Sr.)

Shawn Jones is an athletic, 6-8 forward that averaged 8.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game, and made 50% from the field last year.

He is an efficient scorer, as he gets most of his scores inside the paint, and also draws numerous fouls upon opposing defenders.  Jones does a very good job of scoring off cuts, and can catch lob passes to throw down alley-oop dunks after rolling to the hoop off of screens.  Also, he can score on high post drives as well.  Jones can handle the basketball, and does a fairly good job of limiting his turnovers on offense.

Jones is a very good defender, and possesses great shot blocking skills.  He can swat shots on the ball or from the blind side, as he possesses a terrific blend of leaping, quickness, and rotation skills to send shots back very far repeatedly.  Also, Jones is a good rebounder, but can be prone to committing fouls on the court.

Shawn Jones is one of the best players in Conference-USA this season, and is a potential second round pick that should garner an invite to Portsmouth at season's end.  He has all of the skills to help Middle Tennessee greatly, and could help them get back into a postseason tournament.

Kerry Hammonds II is a 6-5 guard that averaged 6.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game, and made 41% of his three-pointers last season.  He is a good shooter that can make shots from all over the floor, as he can make threes, and can draw a lot of free throws against his opponents.  Hammonds is a very good passer and can handle the ball, but can be fairly turnover prone at times, and will need to be more assertive in looking for his own shot on offense.

He also can grab his fair share of rebounds on the court.  Hammonds also is an above average defender, and also can get some steals for his team as well.  In all, he projects to be a fairly solid role player for Middle Tennessee this season.

Tweety Knight is a 6-1 point guard who averaged 4.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game, and also made 57% from the field last season.  He's a pass first, floor general that is a solid passer and ball handler, and can collect plenty of assists on the floor.  Knight also is an efficient scorer when he decides to score, and can draw lots of free throws to help his team.

He also is a very good rebounder for a player his size.  Knight also defends well, and gets many steals when he is on the court.  His all-around skills should help Middle Tennessee this season, especially if he plays well as a starter this year.

Notable Role Players:
F Neiko Hunter (Sr.), G Jaqawn Raymond (So.), F Eric Wortham (Fr.), F Reggie Upshaw (Fr.), G Marcus Tarrance (Jr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

Middle Tennessee has plenty of talent and a considerable amount of veteran experience on their team, but they look to be a notch below the top level, and lost several key pieces from last year's roster.  Likely, they'll be fighting amongst the other teams for the at-large bids available in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.  They are off to a good start this year, and at least should secure a bid to a postseason tournament, if not to the NCAAs at the end of the season.

Overall: C+
Frontcourt: B-
Backcourt: C
Bench: C-
Coaching: C+
Defense: B

5. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

Last Year's Record: 27-10
Postseason Results: Lost in the Quarterfinals of the NIT

Projected Starters:
F Daveon Boardingham (Sr.)
F Aaron Brown (Jr.)
G Michael Craig (Sr.)
G Jerrold Brooks (Sr.)
G Neil Watson (Sr.)

Key Players:
G Neil Watson (Sr.), F Daveon Boardingham (Sr.), G Michael Craig (Sr.)

Neil Watson is a 5-11 point guard who averaged 9.8 points, 4.9 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game, and made 44.2% of his threes last year.  He's a very good shooter that can make shots from anywhere on the court, and also is a really good free throw shooter.

He also is a very good passer and ball handler, and can get his team plenty of assists.  Also, Watson is a good defender that can get steals, as he'll force opponents to commit turnovers.  His presence will help Southern Mississippi win a considerable amount of games this season.

Daveon Boardingham is a 6-7 forward that averaged 8.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game, and made 57.1% from the field last year.  He's an efficient scorer that can crash the basket to garner scores, and draws many free throws for his team.  Boardingham also is a good ball handler that can limit turnovers, but will need to improve his passing skills.

He's a good rebounder that will help out on the glass to get his team plenty of rebounds on the floor.  Boardingham also is a good shot blocker and gets plenty of steals, but also is very foul prone.  His ability to score, rebound, and defend should help Southern Mississippi this season.

Michael Craig is a 6-5 guard that averaged 9.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.5 steals per game, and made 58.3% from the field last year.  He's a fairly efficient scorer that can score around the basket, and will draw some fouls upon opposing defenders.   Craig also is a good passer and can handle the ball a bit, but also is turnover prone.

He also is a very good rebounder for a player his size.  In addition, he gets many steals on the court, but also is extremely foul prone.  Craig projects to be a solid role player for Southern Mississippi this season.

Notable Role Players:
G Jerrold Brooks (Sr.), F Aaron Brown (Jr.), G Matt Bingaya (Fr.), G Chip Armelin (Jr.), G Deonte Houston (Jr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

Southern Mississippi has a talented team, but they look to be a notch below the top level.  Likely, they'll be fighting with the other teams for the at-large bids available in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.  This team is off to a good start this year, and at least should secure a bid to a postseason tournament at the end of the season.

Overall: C+
Frontcourt: C+
Backcourt: B-
Bench: C-
Coaching: C+
Defense: B

6. UAB Blazers

Last Year's Record: 16-17
Postseason Results: N/A

Projected Starters:
C Fahro Alihodzic (Sr.)
F C.J. Washington (Jr.)
F Jordan Swing (Sr.)
G Rod Rucker (Sr.)
G Chad Frazier (Jr.)

Key Players:
G Rod Rucker (Sr.), G Robert Williams (Sr.), C Fahro Alihodzic (Sr.)

Rod Rucker is a 6-5 guard that averaged 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game last season.  He's an athletic slasher who can get to the hoop to score the basketball, but will need to greatly improve his jump shot.  Rucker is an adequate passer and can handle the ball, as he limits turnovers on offense.

He's a very good rebounder, and will haul in many rebounds on the floor.  Rucker also can get the occasional block and steal as well.  His ability to provide inside scoring and rebounding should help UAB this year.

Robert Williams is a 6-4 guard that averaged 8.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game, and made 37% of his threes last year.  He's a fairly good shooter that can make shots in a variety of ways.

He is also a good passer and can handle the ball a bit, but also can be prone to committing a rash of turnovers on offense.  Williams also is a good rebounder, and will help his team out on the boards.  In all, his ability to score and rebound should help UAB this season.

Fahro Alihodzic is a 6-10 center that averaged 9.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game last year.  He can finish plays inside the paint and can draw fouls upon opposing defenders, but will need to greatly improve his jump shot.  Alihodzic is also a capable passer, and does a fairly good job of limiting turnovers on offense.

Alihodzic also has above average rebounding skills, as he can haul in plenty of boards in meaningful games.  Though he doesn't block many shots, he will get plenty of steals for his team.  In summary, his rebounding and defensive skills should help UAB this season.

Notable Role Players:
F C.J. Washington (Jr.), G Chad Frazier (Jr.), F Jordan Swing (Sr.), F Tosin Mehinti (Fr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

UAB has a talented team, but they look to be a notch below the top level.  Likely, they'll be fighting with the other teams for the at-large bids available in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.  The Blazers are off to a good start this year, and at least should secure a bid to a postseason tournament, if not to the NCAAs at the end of the season.

Overall: C+
Frontcourt: C+
Backcourt: B-
Bench: D
Coaching: C+
Defense: B-

7.  Florida International Panthers

Projected Starters:
F Raheem Buckles (Sr.)
F Jerome Frink (So.)
G Tymell Murphy (Sr.)
G Dennis Mavin (Jr.)
G Raymond Taylor (Sr.)

Key Players:
F Raheem Buckles (Sr.), G Tymell Murphy (Sr.), G Raymond Taylor (Sr.)

Raheem Buckles is an athletic, 6-7 forward that spent three seasons playing for Louisville before joining Florida International for his senior year.  Prior to this year, his best season looked to be when he was a sophomore in 2010-11, as he averaged 6.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game, and also made 42.3% of his three-pointers.

He's an efficient scorer that can attack the hoop to garner his scores, and can elevate upwards to throw down dunks upon opposing defenses.  Also, he can draw plenty of fouls on them, and has an adequate outside shot as well.  Buckles is also a capable passer and can handle the basketball, but also is fairly turnover prone on the court.

Buckles is a very good rebounder that can haul in many balls that come towards his path.  He also is a fairly good defender, as he does a good job of blocking shots, and can get his team plenty of steals, but also is quite foul prone.  In all, Raheem Buckles is one of the best prospects in the Conference-USA, and has a fair chance at getting invite to Portsmouth at the end of the season.

Tymell Murphy is a 6-5 guard that averaged 14.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game, and made 57.3% from the field last year.  He's a very efficient scorer that can crash the basket to get his scores.  He also is an above average passer and ball handler, but also can be turnover prone.

He is a very good rebounder that can haul in lots of boards for his team.  Murphy also possesses solid defensive skills, as he is an extremely good shot blocker for a player his size, and gets many steals as well, as he has the skills to be the best defensive player in this conference for the 2013-14 season.

In summary, Murphy has all the skills to help lead Florida International to the postseason, and like his teammate Buckles, Murphy is also a strong candidate to be invited to Portsmouth when that comes at the end of the season.

Raymond Taylor is a 5-6 point guard who averaged 8.9 points, 4.5 assists, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game last year.  He is a pass first, floor general that can collect plenty of assists, and is a good ball handler who limits turnovers on the offensive end.  When he looks to score, he can make threes, and can draw free throws, but struggles to make two-point shots on a consistent basis.

Taylor can also get some steals for his team, and will chip in to get a rebound every once in a while.  In all, his experience, leadership skills, and ability to move the basketball could help Florida International significantly this season.

Notable Role Players:
F Jerome Frink (So.), G Dennis Mavin (Jr.), G Marco Porcher Jimenez (Jr.), F Dominique Williams (Fr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

Due to the depth of this conference, they are not likely to contend for a conference title or a berth in the NCAA Tournament, so they are fighting to stay above .500 in the conference, and to get a spot in the other postseason tournaments.  If so, that would be a fairly successful season for Florida International.

Overall: C
Frontcourt: C+
Backcourt: C+
Bench: D-
Coaching: B-
Defense: C+

8.  East Carolina Pirates

Projected Starters:
F Michael Zangari (So.)
G Caleb White (Fr.)
G Paris Roberts-Campbell (Jr.)
G Akeem Richmond (Sr.)
G Prince Williams (So.)

Key Players:
G Akeem Richmond (Sr.), F Brandan Stith (Fr.)

Akeem Richmond is a 6-0 guard that averaged 10.9 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game, made 42% of his threes, and made 84% of his free throws last year.  He is a prolific scorer that also is a fairly good shooter, as he excels at making outside shots from beyond the arc.  Also, Richmond is a very good ball handler, as he limits turnovers to an absolute minimum, but must improve his passing skills significantly.  His shooting and scoring skills could help East Carolina this season.

Brandan Stith is a 6-7 freshman forward that already looks to be the best newcomer in C-USA's conference this season.  For a player who comes off the bench, he has been ridiculously productive for the Pirates, as he may be the best and most talented player on their roster.

Stith is an athletic slasher who brings efficient scoring skills, as he gets most of his scores by scoring around the basket.  Stith is also a good passer and ball handler, and can limit his turnovers on offense.

He is a rebounding machine, as he'll collect an abundance of boards whenever he is on the floor.  Stith is a terrific shot blocker, and gets many steals, as he possesses outstanding defensive skills, and is a contender to be the conference's best defender.

Brandan Stith is a prospect to keep an eye on down the road, as he could gain the attention of NBA teams and scouts with his great blend of athleticism, production, and potential eventually if not this year, as he is one of the most underrated players in college basketball.

Notable Role Players:
G Paris Roberts-Campbell (Jr.), G Prince Williams (Fr.), G Caleb White (Fr.), F Michael Zangari (So.), C Marshall Guilmette (So.), G Antonio Robinson (Jr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

Due to the depth of this conference, they are not likely to contend for a conference title or a berth in the NCAA Tournament, so they are fighting to stay above .500 in the conference, and to get a spot in the other postseason tournaments.  If so, that would be a fairly successful season for East Carolina.

Overall: C
Frontcourt: D
Backcourt: C
Bench: B+
Coaching: C+
Defense: D+

9.  Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Projected Starters:
F Rashad Smith (So.)
F Lew Evans (So.)
G Shaquille Harrison (So.)
G Tim Peete (Sr.)
G James Woodard (So.)

Notable Role Players:
F Rashad Smith (So.), G James Woodard (So.), G Shaquille Harrison (So.), G Tim Peete (Sr.), F Lew Evans (So.), F D'Andre Wright (So.), G Rashad Ray (So.), G Patrick Swilling (Sr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

Due to the depth of this conference, they are not likely to contend for a conference title or a berth in the NCAA Tournament, so they are fighting to stay above .500 in the conference, and to get a spot in the other postseason tournaments.  If so, that would be a fairly successful season for Tulsa.

Overall: C
Frontcourt: C+
Backcourt: C-
Bench: C-
Coaching: C-
Defense: C+

10.  Marshall Thundering Herd

Projected Starters:
F TyQuane Goard (So.)
F Elijah Pittman (Sr.)
G Ryan Taylor (Fr.)
G Chris Thomas (So.)
G Kareem Canty (Fr.)

Key Players:
F Elijah Pittman (Sr.), G Ryan Taylor (Fr.), G Kareem Canty (Fr.)

Elijah Pittman is a 6-9 forward that averaged 16.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game, and made 37.1% of his threes last year for the Marshall Thundering Herd.

Pittman is a very good shooter that can make shots from all over the floor, and is a solid marksman from downtown.  Pittman makes shots with great efficiency, and will also draw many fouls upon opposing defenders.  He also is a capable passer, and is a good ball handler that limits his turnovers on offense.

He also can grab his fair share of rebounds, as he can help out on the glass.  Pittman can also get the occasional steal and block, and does a very good job of not fouling often in games.  In all, his size along with his vast shooting and scoring skills should help Marshall immensely, and could be a likely player to garner an invite to Portsmouth at the end of this season.

Ryan Taylor is a 6-5 guard who has played really well this season, and also is one of the frontrunners to contend for the newcomer of the year award in this conference.

He's an athletic slasher who scores efficiently, and draws a plethora of free throws upon opposing defenders.  Taylor will need to improve his playmaking skills though, as he rarely collects assists, and is very turnover prone on the floor.

Taylor possesses tremendous rebounding skills for a player his size, and will collect many rebounds when he is on the floor.  He also is a fairly good defender, as he will block plenty of shots, and will collect his fair share of steals as well.  However, he also is very foul prone.  In summary, Ryan Taylor projects to be a solid player in this conference for this season.

Kareem Canty is a 6-1 point guard that also will contend to be the top newcomer of this conference for the 2013-14 season.  Canty is a pass first, floor general who collects a lot of assists, and is a very good ball handler who limits his turnovers on offense.  He also is a fairly good shooter, and can make plenty of shots on the court.  His strong offensive skills should help Marshall this year.

Notable Role Players:
G Chris Thomas (So.), F TyQuane Goard (So.), F Shawn Smith (Jr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

Due to the depth of this conference, they are not likely to contend for a conference title or a berth in the NCAA Tournament, so they are fighting to stay above .500 in the conference, and to get a spot in the other postseason tournaments.  If so, that would be a fairly successful season for Marshall.

Overall: C
Frontcourt: C+
Backcourt: B-
Bench: D-
Coaching: C
Defense: C-

11. Old Dominion Monarchs

Projected Starters:
F Denzell Taylor (Fr.)
F Richard Ross (Jr.)
G Dimitri Batten (Jr.)
G Aaron Bacote (So.)
G Keenan Palmore (So.)

Notable Role Players:
F Richard Ross (Jr.), G Aaron Bacote (So.), G Keenan Palmore (So.), G Dimitri Batten (Jr.), F Denzell Taylor (Fr.), G Jordan Baker (Fr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

Due to the depth of this conference, they are not likely to contend for a conference title or a berth in the NCAA Tournament, so they are fighting to stay above .500 in the conference, and to get a spot in the other postseason tournaments.  If so, that would be a fairly successful season for Old Dominion.

Overall: C-
Frontcourt: C
Backcourt: C+
Bench: D-
Coaching: D+
Defense: C-

12.  North Texas Mean Green

Projected Starters:
F Keith Coleman (Jr.)
F Colin Voss (Jr.)
G Alzee Williams (Sr.)
G Vertrail Vaughns (Sr.)
G Chris Jones (Jr.)

Notable Role Players:
G Chris Jones (Jr.), G Alzee Williams (Sr.), G Vertrail Vaughns (Sr.), F Keith Coleman (Jr.), F Colin Voss (Jr.), G Jordan Williams (Jr.), G T.J. Taylor (Jr.), F Armani Flannigan (Jr.), G Brandan Walton (Sr.), G Maurice Aniefiok (So.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

The Mean Green's strongest suit may be their guards, as point guard Chris Jones can faciliate and handle the basketball, and is a pest defensively, as he will get a lot of steals on the floor.  Alzee Williams can shoot and score the basketball, while Vertrail Vaughns will bring some veteran experience that can prove to be valuable to this team.

But they'll need a lot of help from the rest of the team, as they failed to reach the postseason last year even despite having a future NBA player and Detroit Piston in forward Tony Mitchell, who put forth a solid sophomore campaign during the 2012-13 season, and eventually was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft.

Due to the depth of this conference, they are not likely to contend for a conference title or a berth in the NCAA Tournament, so they are fighting to stay above .500 in the conference, and to get a spot in the other postseason tournaments.  If so, that would be a fairly successful season for North Texas.

Overall: C-
Frontcourt: D-
Backcourt: C
Bench: C
Coaching: D
Defense: C

13.  Tulane Green Wave

Projected Starters:

C Tomas Bruha (Sr.)
F Trevante Drye (Jr.)
G Jay Hook (Jr.)
G Louis Dabney (So.)
G Jonathan Stark (Fr.)

Notable Role Players:
G Louis Dabney (So.), G Jonathan Stark (Fr.), G Jay Hook (Jr.), F Trevante Drye (Jr.), C Tomas Bruha (Sr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

Due to the depth of this conference, they are not likely to contend for a conference title or a berth in the NCAA Tournament, so they are fighting to stay above .500 in the conference, and to get a spot in the other postseason tournaments.  If so, that would be a fairly successful season for Tulane.

Overall: D
Frontcourt: D
Backcourt: C+
Bench: F
Coaching: D+
Defense: D

14.  Rice Owls

Projected Starters:
F Sean Obi (Fr.)
F Seth Gearhart (Jr.)
G Max Guercy (So.)
G Austin Ramljak (Sr.)
G Marcus Jackson (Fr.)

Key Players:
F-C Sean Obi (Fr.)

Sean Obi is a 6-9 forward who projects to contend to be the conference's best newcomer this year.  He is an efficient inside scorer, and also is a very good rebounder.  He also can block shots, but must improve his playmaking skills, and also is foul prone.  Obi is a strong inside scorer and rebounder, and can be a presence as a low post scorer, as he could be Rice's best prospect for the NBA down the road.

Notable Role Players:
G Austin Ramljak (Sr.), G Max Guercy (So.), F Seth Gearhart (Jr.), G Marcus Jackson (Fr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

Due to the depth of this conference, they are not likely to contend for a conference title or a berth in the NCAA Tournament, so they are fighting to stay above .500 in the conference, and to get a spot in the other postseason tournaments.  If so, that would be a fairly successful season for Rice.

Overall: D
Frontcourt: C+
Backcourt: C
Bench: F
Coaching: D-
Defense: D

15.  Florida Atlantic Owls

Projected Starters:
C Dragan Sekelja (Sr.)
F Kelvin Penn (Jr.)
G Pablo Bertone (Sr.)
G Marquan Botley (Fr.)
G Jackson Trapp (So.)

Key Players:
G Pablo Bertone (Sr.), C Dragan Sekelja (Sr.)

Pablo Bertone is a 6-4 guard that averaged 9.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game, and also made 36% of his three-pointers last season.  He is a prolific scorer who is at his best when he takes and makes outside shots from beyond the arc.  Bertone also has some passing and ball handling skills, but is quite turnover prone, and will need to continue to improve his passing skills.

He is a fairly good rebounder, as he will pull down plenty of boards for his team.  Bertone can also get some steals on the defensive end, but is a bit foul prone.  In all, his ability to shoot and score the basketball could help Florida Atlantic pick up some wins this year.

Dragan Sekelja is a 7-0 center that averaged 3.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game last year.  While he struggles to shoot the basketball, he can draw some free throws to collect some points on offense.  Sekelja is a good passer, and is an unselfish player that can pick up his fair share of assists on the floor.  However, he also is very turnover prone when he has the ball in his hands.

He is a good rebounder who can help his team on the glass. Sekelja can also block some shots on occasion, but is also very foul prone.  In all, Dragan Sekelja has all of the skills to be a good role player this season.

Notable Role Players:
G Jackson Trapp (So.), F Kelvin Penn (Jr.), G Marquan Botley (Fr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

Due to the depth of this conference, they are not likely to contend for a conference title or a berth in the NCAA Tournament, so they are fighting to stay above .500 in the conference, and to get a spot in the other postseason tournaments.  If so, that would be a fairly successful season for Florida Atlantic.

Overall: D
Frontcourt: D
Backcourt: D
Bench: D-
Coaching: D
Defense: C-

16.  UTSA Roadrunners

Projected Starters:
F Edrico McGregor (Sr.)
F Tyler Wood (Sr.)
G Jordan Sims (Sr.)
G Keon Lewis (Jr.)
G Devon Agusi (Sr.)

Notable Role Players:
F Edrico McGregor (Sr.), G Keon Lewis (Jr.), G Devon Agusi (Sr.), G Jordan Sims (Sr.), F Tyler Wood (Sr.), F Phillip Jones (Fr.), C Kaj-Bjorn Sherman (Jr.)

For more info on these players, you could look up their player cards on ESPN.

Season Outlook:

Due to the depth of this conference, they are not likely to contend for a conference title or a berth in the NCAA Tournament, so they are fighting to stay above .500 in the conference, and to get a spot in the other postseason tournaments.  If so, that would be a fairly successful season for Texas-San Antonio.

Overall: D
Frontcourt: D
Backcourt: D
Bench: F
Coaching: D+
Defense: D

Projected All-C-USA 1st Team
F Shawn Jones, Middle Tennessee
F Raheem Buckles, Florida International
F Elijah Pittman, Marshall
G Tymell Murphy, Florida International
G Neil Watson, Southern Mississippi

Projected All-C-USA 2nd Team
C John Bohannon, UTEP
F Willie Clayton, Charlotte
F Brandan Stith, East Carolina
G Rod Rucker, UAB
G Pierria Henry, Charlotte

Projected All-C-USA 3rd Team
C Fahro Alihodzic, UAB
F Michale Kyser, Louisiana Tech
G Alex Hamilton, Louisiana Tech
G Ryan Taylor, Marshall
G Kareem Canty, Marshall

Projected All-C-USA Defensive 1st Team
F Shawn Jones, Middle Tennessee
F Raheem Buckles, Florida International
G Tymell Murphy, Florida International
G Pierria Henry, Charlotte
G Chris Jones, North Texas

Projected All-C-USA Defensive 2nd Team
C John Bohannon, UTEP
F Michale Kyser, Louisiana Tech
F Brandan Stith, East Carolina
G Alex Hamilton, Louisiana Tech
G Tweety Knight, Middle Tennessee

Projected All-C-USA Newcomer Team
F Sean Obi, Rice
F Brandan Stith, East Carolina
G Ryan Taylor, Marshall
G Justin Crogsile, UTEP
G Kareem Canty, Marshall

Projected 2013-14 All-Conference-USA...
Rookie of the Year: Brandan Stith, F, East Carolina
Defensive Player of the Year: Shawn Jones, F, Middle Tennessee
Head Coach of the Year: Michael White, Louisiana Tech
Player of the Year: Elijah Pittman, F, Marshall

You have just finished reading the conference preview of Conference-USA for the 2013-14 season.  Thank you for reading, and enjoy the rest of the weekend.