Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
After spending the past decade plus as one of the top teams in the CAA, the George Mason Patriots head to the Atlantic 10. The most pressing concern as they make their transition is how the Patriots will handle a more competitive league on a game-to-game basis.
GEORGE MASON PATRIOTS
Last Season: T-5th, 10-8 in CAA, 22-16 overall
Predicted A10 Finish: 7th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Erik Copes (Jr)
PF: Johnny Williams (Sr) or Jonathan Arledge (Sr)/Anali Okoloji (Jr)
G/F: Sherrod Wright (Sr)/Marko Gujanicic (So)/Jalen Jenkins (Fr)
SG: Byron Allen (Sr)/Vaughn Gray (Jr)
PG: Corey Edwards (Jr)/Patrick Holloway (So)/Marquise Moore (Fr)
Gone: SG-Vertrail Vaughns (transfer-North Texas), F-Paris Bennett (transfer)
A huge advantage for the George Mason Patriots as they enter the A-10 is the fact that they return seven guys who started at least 18 games a year ago and nine of their top ten scorers. Leading the way is Second Team All-CAA honoree Sherrod Wright who was tops on the team in scoring last season at 16.6 points per game. He is a physical off guard who is also capable of lighting it up from the outside but can also be a very streaky scorer.
Wright will be part of a three-guard line-up that also features Corey Edwards and Byron Allen. Either guy is capable of initiating the offense while Allen’s versatility, especially on the defensive end, makes him a tremendous glue guy. That trio carries plenty of experience into the season and after an encouraging freshman campaign, Patrick Holloway is another valuable piece to bring off the bench.
There are plenty of frontcourt options for head coach Paul Hewitt. Jonathan Arledge is the team’s most talented scoring forward as he finished second on the team in points per game despite playing less than twenty minutes a night. His inside/outside ability is a nice complement to the physical guys down low, Erik Copes and Johnny Williams who missed the the second half of last season due to a concussion. Add former Seton Hall transfer Anali Okoloji and stretch forward Marko Gujanicic to the equation and George Mason has one of the deeper frontcourts in the conference.
Hewitt also added Georgia Tech transfer Julian Royal during the off-season. He must sit out this season per NCAA rules but will help replace the losses of Arledge and Williams beginning in 2014-15.
The experience up and down the roster will help George Mason during their inaugural year in the Atlantic 10 but will it be enough for them to make a major dent in their new league? Wright will once again be the guy and there are several quality nice pieces surrounding him but whether or not, they can make steady improvement will be the biggest factor in bouncing back from a somewhat disappointing 2012-13 season.
Player to Watch: Erik Copes
The former top 100 recruit hasn’t quite lived up to the lofty expectations of when he entered the Patriots program. With the quality depth inside, his minutes and touches shouldn’t increase too much but he must become a bigger factor inside which won’t be easy to do against improved talent in the A-10.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/23 at Iona
12/22 vs. Iowa State (Diamond Head Classic)
12/23 vs. Oregon State/Akron (Diamond Head Classic)
12/25 vs. Boise State/Hawaii/South Carolina/St. Mary’s (Diamond Head Classic)
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks