The Atlantic 10 is coming off of a down year. If we are just focusing on how many teams they placed in the tournament, three doesn’t look so bad. Of course Davidson was only there by virtue of winning the conference tournament, and St. Bonaventure was one of the last four teams in. All three teams were out by the end of the first weekend. Defending regular season Champion, Rhode Island, has lost head coach Dan Hurley to the Connecticut Huskies. That leaves the Atlantic 10 up for grabs this season.
The Rams only won a measly 4 conference games a season to go. They are a long way from competing amongst the Atlantic 10’s best. Leading scorer, Will Tavares, has graduated and Fordham will be looking to replace his production. They do have an incoming 4 star recruit in Onyinyechi Eysi who should be looked at right away to help this team climb the conference ladder.
- George Washington
The Colonials are losing their top three scorers from a team that managed to win 7 conference games a year ago. They are only a few years removed from competing for an NCAA Tournament berth, and will now be close to the basement of the conference. The bright spot of this team could be Chris Sodom, who is a 7’3 Center. Sodom will join GW after being dismissed from Georgetown.
The Dukes lose four of their top six scorers from this past season, but will look to continue building with Eric WIlliams Jr and Mike Lewis. The Dukes will add 4 star recruit Gavin Bizeau as they try to avoid another down year in the Atlantic 10.
UMass loses one Senior from a team that only managed to win 5 conference games a year ago. LuWane Pipkins, who scored 21ppg last season returns and looks to lead this team to a better record than a year ago. The Minutemen will add 4 star recruit Samba Diallo, who should help this team get to the 8 win mark in Atlantic 10 play.
This is unfamiliar territory for a team that is used to making the NCAA Tournament. The Rams do have some talent in De’ Riante Jenkins and Issac Vann, but lose some talent in Justin Tillman and Jonathan Williams. They are not bringing in a great recruiting class. I expect the Rams to be around the .500 conference record they had a year ago, but this will be a down season for a team, and fan base that expects their team to be in the tournament each season.
- Rhode Island
The Rams had quite a season last year by winning a game in the NCAA Tournament. They dominated most other teams in the Atlantic 10. Things are not looking as good for Rhode Island this season. URI will be losing EC Matthews, Jared Terrell, and Stanford Robinson. The Rams are also losing head coach, Dan Hurley. This is going to be a rebuilding year for Rhode Island. They should still look to finish close to the .500 mark in conference play.
- La Salle
The Explorers look poised to have a fairly successful season. They will be led by Pookie Powell, who is entering his Senior season. They will also have contributions from Traci Carter and Isiah Deas. This team may not be making the tournament, but they should be fairly competitive in the Atlantic 10 this season.
The Flyers struggled last season after losing coach Archie Smith. They will be looking to start their climb back to the top of the Atlantic 10. They will be losing Darrell Davis from a squad that went 8-10 in Atlantic 10 play last season. Leading scorer Josh Cunningham is back, and 4 star recruit Dwayne Cohill will join the team.
- St. Bonaventure
Losing Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley is going to be tough for this team. They will depend on LaDarien Griffin and UNLV transfer Jalen Poyser to carry the load this season. This team will look a bit different than the one that won the Bonnies first tournament game in 48 years last season, but should still find some success.
Last season, Richmond played 5 players for a majority of the time. 2 of those 5 will not be returning this season. The good news for Richmond is that Grant Golden, Jacob Gilyard, and Nick Sherod are. Another good thing for Richmond? None of these players are Seniors. This is a team that should get better and better for the next few seasons.
- George Mason
The Patriots may not be the most talented team in the Atlantic 10, but they are returning their entire team that went 9-9 in conference play a season ago.It is very difficult to see this team taking a step backwards, instead of forwards. Otis Livingston and Jarred Reuter will definitely be looking to make their final collegiate season count.
- Saint Louis
The Billikens have a ton of talent. This team will need to put all of the talent together to be successful. If they can put it together, they can be a team going dancing in March. If they can’t, this 3rd place ranking will look silly. The team is led by Javon Bess and Jordan Goodwin. Saint Louis also brings in a fairly large recruiting class led by 4 star Carte’Are Gordon. We should have a pretty good idea about if this team is legit or not by the start of conference play.
The Wildcats have a graduating class of 7 players. You may be asking how a team like that is projected to finish 2nd in the conference. Well, Kellan Grady, who scored 18ppg is a sophomore this season. They are also returning their 3rd and 4th top scorers. Davidson will not have a Senior on the roster this year. This team will be very competitive this season, and possibly the Atlantic 10’s best next season.
- St Joseph’s
The Hawks lose Shavar Newkirk and James Demery from a team that went 10-8 in conference play last season. They will bring back LaMarr Kimble, who played just one game last season, as well as Taylor Funk, who scored 11.8ppg. The Hawks will also bring in 4 star recruit, Jared Bynum. With as much depth that they bring back, combined with their top recruit, the St. Joseph Hawks are my pick to win the Atlantic 10.