A-Sun Power Rankings #1: Mercer
Owl Howl A-Sun Ranking: 1st out of 10 teams.
2012-13 Finish: 24-12 (14-4). 1st in the Atlantic Sun
Head Coach: Bob Hoffman (6th Season)
Projected Starting Five
PG Langston Hall (Sr.)
G Ike Nwamu (rSo.)
F Jacob Gollon (rSr.)
F Bud Thomas (Sr.)
C Daniel Coursey (Sr.)
Projected Top Bench Players (in no order)
F T,J. Hallice (Jr.)
G Phillip Leonard (So.)
G Anthony White Jr. (Sr.)
C Monty Brown (Sr.)
G Kevin Canevari (Sr.)
G Jibri Bryan (rSo.)
G Matt Panaggio (Fr.)
F Darious Moten (walk-on, Jr.)
G John Mosser (walk-on Fr.)
G Lawrence Brown (So.)
G D.J. Brooks (Fr.)
F James Bento (walk-on Fr.)
Owl Howl player efficiency ratings 2012-13 (players in gold are not returning)
Travis Smith (G): Smith put together a very strong senior season, with some great shooting numbers. He’s definitely a key loss, but Mercer has enough guys to fight for his spot and it’s likely somebody will step up.
Chris Smith (G): A role player
Langston Hall (PG): Probably the best all-around guard in the conference. Definitely Mercer’s top player.
Bud Thomas (F): Don’t let the Cory Matthews hairdo throw you off, because Thomas is a very good player. The former Mr. Basketball in Colorado is a highly intelligent player who is good all around but doesn’t really stand out anywhere.
Jakob Gollon (F): The sixth year senior was granted extra eligibility after redshirting two seasons. He had an excellent sophomore season but his shot fell off last year. If he can match his production from two years ago, Mercer will be even more dangerous.
Daniel Coursey (C): A shotblocking big man who has only averaged around 20 minutes per game thus far in his career but was named to the All A-Sun preseason team. Like Gollon, Coursey put up better numbers two years ago, but he was still a good player last season. Teams know that he only has one move in the post (a little jump hook over his left shoulder), which he can get away with due to his size against smaller teams.
T.J. Hallice (F): A solid role player with some size. Needs to take another next step in his development.
Anthony White Jr. (G): The senior wasn’t bad last year, but he certainly wasn’t as good as Travis Smith. If he wants to play more, he’ll have to step up.
Kevin Canevari (G): A pesky backup point guard who plays tough defense. See ‘scrappy’ in the dictionary. Doubt he plays too much this year but he is good depth.
Monty Brown (C): He is a limited player athletically who has a bad back which likely caps his minutes at around 20 per game. At 6-11 250 pounds, he is a perfect backup center at this level and could probably start for a handful of A-Sun teams.
Jibri Bryan (G): He suffered a shoulder injury as a senior in high school, needed a medical redshirt as a freshman and suffered nagging injuries derailing his redshirt freshman campaign. Bryan can’t seem to stay healthy, but if he does look for him to be the main competition with Ike Nwamu/Phillip Leonard for Travis Smith’s playing time.
Ike Nwamu (G): Nwamu redshirted last season after transferring from Cleveland State. He is possibly the most athletic player on Mercer’s roster (which isn’t hard to do) and he has a strong build. Oh yeah, I hear he can shoot the three as well. We’ll have to see how he pans out, but he is the guy to watch.
Phillip Leonard (G): Didn’t put up big numbers as a freshman at his junior college, but he shot and distributed the ball fairly well. Stood out during Mercer’s summer games. He could also be in contention for Travis Smith’s starting gig.
Reasons for Optimism
1. Mercer returns pretty much their entire roster from last season.
2. Most returning contributors are seniors.
3. They have a full house when it comes to their roster.
4. Nwamu, White, Leonard, Bryan all give reasons for optimism that the SG spot will be filled.
Reasons for Concern
1. Lack of athleticism. It seems rather obvious that in general, Bob Hoffman values intelligence and skill over athleticism in his recruiting. If they get into the big dance, can this recipe be successful vs. a top seed?
2. Can Monty Brown stay healthy? Having two 7 footers who each are on the floor at different times has helped keep them fresh and out of foul trouble.
This is Mercer’s last season in the Atlantic Sun and possibly the last season as a KSU rival. Hopefully the schools form some sort of agreement to keep it going each year. Mercer could very well pull a Belmont and go 16-2 in their Atlantic Sun curtain call.
When you have as many seniors as Mercer does, it’s a blessing for the present and a curse for the future. They will likely dominate conference play again this year, because of their experience, depth, precision passing, cuts and general savvy which give opposing teams fits. The concern for Bob Hoffman will be in 2014-15 and what kind of first impression will they make next year in a new conference after graduating most of their top players. Oh well not our problem!
This season, Mercer has more depth than Florida Gulf Coast which is a big reason as to why I believe they are in better position to take the regular season conference crown. An injury to FGCU might cripple them, but an injury to Mercer likely won’t.