99 in 99: #48 St. Louis Billikens (UPDATE: 10/13)

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Billikens mascot

Without a single senior on the roster, St. Louis became one of the surprise teams in the country last season ending with very respectable fourth place finish in the competitive Atlantic 10 Conference.  One year older, the Billikens will no longer fly under the radar as they hope to battle for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

(10/13 UPDATE: St. Louis University sent out a release stating that their top two players Willie Reed and Kwamain Mitchell are no longer enrolled at the school.  Read more about that here.  This obviously kills the Billikens’ chances of being a sleeper team in the A-10 and drops them out of my top 99.)

The Sports Bank’s “99 in 99” ranks the 72 power conference college basketball teams and top 27 mid-majors.  Our countdown will lead right up to the start of the season and provide you will all the in-depth information about the top teams in the game.  Click here if you missed teams #49-#99.

By: David Kay

St. Louis Billikens (4th, 11-5 in A10, 23-13 overall)

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Cody Ellis (So)/Rob Loe (Fr)
F: Brian Conklin (Jr)/Cory Remekun (So)
G: Christian Salecich (So)/Dwayne Evans (Fr)
G: Paul Eckerle (Jr)/Mike McCall (Fr)
PG: Kyle Cassity (Jr)/Jordair Jett (Fr)

Gone: PF Willie Reed (dismissed), G-Kwamain Mitchell (dismissed), PG-Justin Jordan (transfer-Ball State), G/F-Jon Smith (transfer-Ohio), G-Femi John (transfer)

2010-2011 Outlook:
In just three years at St. Louis, Rick Majerus has quickly worked his magic turning the Billikens into a team that cannot be overlooked in the Atlantic 10.  You know, because St. Louis is totally considered an “Atlantic” city.

Last season, the ten players that were in the Billikens’ regular rotation were underclassmen.  Three of those contributors chose to transfer but St. Louis still returns their top six scorers, none of whom are even seniors yet.

Kwamain Mitchell and Willie Reed combined to be quite the inside/outside threat.  Mitchell led the team in scoring averaging nearly 16 points per game while Reed began to catch the attention of NBA scouts due to his length and athleticism.  (UPDATE: REED AND MITCHELL ARE NO LONGER ENROLLED AT SLU ACCORDING A RELEASE SENT OUT BY THE UNIVERSITY.)

Kyle Cassity, Cody Ellis, Christian Salecich, and Brian Conklin all saw time in the starting line-up a year ago and will be asked to play complimentary roles.  Ellis provides a frontcourt mate for Reed while also being able to step out and knock down jump shots.  Salecich and Cassity figure to form a backcourt trio with Mitchell in the starting line-up but will need to shoot the ball better from the outside if SLU is going to take the jump that many are expecting them to.

Paul Eckerle returns from a season ending knee injury that cost him all of last season and should provide an outside threat off the bench.  Dwayne Evans is the freshman who can most likely contribute right away but it would be an added bonus if 6-11 New Zealand recruit Rob Loe can add his size into the mix.

With Reed and Mitchell, they figured to be in the thick of the A-10 battle with Xavier, Temple, Dayton, and Richmond vying for NCAA Tournament berths but the suspensions of Reed and Mitchell are catastrophic to the Billikens’ post-season chances.

Willie Reed SLUPlayer to Watch: Willie Reed, PF
While Reed made a nice leap during his sophomore season, he is still only scratching at the surface of his true potential.  He can jump out of the gym, sky for blocked shot, and fly up and down the court, but is still developing as an offensive player.  If his all-around game continues to blossom, he could help SLU dance this March and also end up playing his final year of college ball.  (UPDATE: REED IS NO LONGER ENROLLED AT THE UNIVERSITY.)

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/20 vs. Georgia
12/11 at Duke
12/18 at Missouri State
12/23 vs. Southern Mississippi/E. Tennessee State (Cancun Governor’s Cup)
12/24 vs. TBA (Cancun Governor’s Cup)

Other 99 in 99’s:
#49 Old Dominion
#50 Minnesota
#51 New Mexico
#52 UConn
#53 Northwestern
#54 UCLA
#55 Southern Mississippi
#56 St. Mary’s
#57 Texas A&M
#58 Louisville
#59 Arizona State
#60 Northern Iowa
#61 Creighton
#62 Clemson
#63 Cincinnati
#64 Texas Tech
#65 Miami, FL
#66 Charlotte
#67 UTEP
#68 Ole Miss
#69 George Mason
#70 Colorado
#71 Weber State
#72 Alabama
#73 Bradley
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#77 USC
#78 Oklahoma State
#79 Cal
#80 Oklahoma
#81 Virginia
#82 South Carolina
#83 Indiana
#84 Stanford
#85 Oregon
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#88 Arkansas
#89 Boston College
#90 LSU
#91 Providence
#92 Michigan
#93 Oregon State
#94. Nebraska
#95. Auburn
#96. DePaul
#97. Iowa State
#98. Rutgers
#99. Iowa

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