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I can understand those who don't want to look ahead yet, but I wanted to open a thread for discussion of our team next year.  We have one scholarship still available, so an incoming freshman or, more likely, a transfer will also be added.  

 

Projected Starters

 

6'8", 190 - Emmaanuel Olojakpoke 

6'6", 215 - Daniel Utomi

6'10", 225 - Deng Riak 

6'5", 200 - Jimond Ivey 

6'3", 170 - Eric Hester  

 

Bench

 

6'9", 235 - Jaden Sayles 

6'6", 195 - Eric Parrish

6'11", 250 - Mark Kostelac

6'4", 195 - Torrey Patton 

5'8", 160 - Loren Jackson

6'6", 200 - LePear Toles

 

Hester isn't expected to play until midseason, so either Cotton or Jackson will start at PG early on.  

 

Around the conference, Buffalo should remain a power, only losing Wes Clark to graduation.  They also have two highly-touted recruits coming in.  Toledo loses it's top scorer and four other seniors, but returns quite a bit of talent as well.  And, because its our rival, Kent State will lose Kevin Zabo but will bring back most of their major pieces.  

Edited by UAZip0510

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Here's an older scouting report on Riak:

 

Deng Riak

 

ESPN Analyst - Updated 05/28/2015

 

Strengths:
Riak is an extra long, lean and active power forward that runs the floor extremely well. Also is skill is impressive as well. He can handle the ball extremely well for his size and has excellent touch and body control around the basket where he can score over his left shoulder and straight line drive to the rim. Riak can knock down the open three off the catch and in when and pop situations when he can get his feet set. He rebounds pretty well and blocks shots on the ball or coming to the aid of a teammate from the weak side.

 

Weaknesses:
Riak will need continue to add strength and gain valuable playing experience which will help him continue to build upon his already productive game.

 

Bottom Line:
Riak is a skilled power forward with length and athleticism with allows him to be match up problem and a high major prospect with excellent upside.

 

 

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I don't think we should get too far ahead of ourselves with Riak.  He averaged 3.1 ppg and 5.2 rpg in 21 minutes as a sophomore at ECU.  He's also quite thin.  I think he'll be a contributor, but not an offensive force.  I see him and Poke being somewhat similar, so you'd need 3 very good offensive players in with them if they were on the floor together.  I think Sayles has the ability to become the Zips number one big man.

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A couple of questions about your ideas on Hester. Why do you feel he will not be eligible to play until the second semester next season? He has been on campus and enrolled since last fall. He has been participating in all team practices and activities since the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. Why do you list Hester as a starter, presumably at the point guard position? From what I've observed he is more of a 2 guard or even a wing.

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1 hour ago, Hilltopper said:

A couple of questions about your ideas on Hester. Why do you feel he will not be eligible to play until the second semester next season? He has been on campus and enrolled since last fall. He has been participating in all team practices and activities since the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. Why do you list Hester as a starter, presumably at the point guard position? From what I've observed he is more of a 2 guard or even a wing.

 

I've heard from several that he will play starting in January '19.  I haven't seen it confirmed anywhere, but just going off of what I heard.  Hope that's bad info.

 

As far as position, Rivals and 24/7 listed him as a PG coming out of HS.  He's a combo guard, so I think he can play the 1 or 2.  They could easily start Cotton or Jackson as well, I just tossed out my guess.

Edited by UAZip0510

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First of all, thank you for putting this together. I don't think it's too early with only a couple weeks in this season.

 

I'm interested to see who stays in the off-season, and who departs. I think there are one or two players who might be asked to leave, and one or two players who might leave on their own, neither of which is source based but more of a hunch. 

 

Regarding the projected starting lineup, I would flip Poke and Sayles. I think Sayles is going to start most of next year. I also think Toles and Parrish will get a fair amount of starts, which could be promising because I think the starting lineup you are projecting is pretty strong.

 

Next year is night-and-day compared to this year depth wise already: 4 C/PF and 8 SF/SG/PG. That's great depth with talent (hopefully) throughout the roster. 

 

A couple questions I have...

 

- Is it confirmed that Poke will be allowed to continue to play basketball?

 

- Do you think we will redshirt someone from this year?

 

- Why do you think a transfer is more likely than a freshman recruit? Common sense answer to this one is because we are so young, but I don't want to assume. 

 

Edit: Speaking of transfers, looks like we just offered this guy on 2/14. http://www.verbalcommits.com/players/shane-gatling

Edited by Let'sGoZips94
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I too thought about flipping Sayles for Olojakpoke (or even Riak).  I think Jaden has a really bright future here.  

 

I would assume E will need to go through a battery of tests before he's cleared, but I've heard he's expected back.

 

I think a transfer is likely because of what you said - the team is so young.  We'll have one senior, three juniors, SEVEN sophomores, and one freshman.  The addition could depend on current players leaving, as you suggested.

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I just can't see Riak and Poke ever on the floor at the same time outside of very rare situations (defensive lineup at end of game). They *seem* to me to be basically the exact same player, both of which are pretty limited offensively. One is just taller.

 

Regardless, I 'm very excited about next year. Hopefully the disappointment and growing pains the fans/players/coaching staff has gone through this year will come to be worth it.

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I would expect the last scholarship to go to a freshman. Currently, we will have 0 freshman next season. LePear is coming in as a Sophmore 

 

I alao agree that Hester seems to be more of a typical 2 guard, but we already have a pretty good one in Ivey. If he is the best option for point, I could see him starting there even if it is not his best fit. 

 

I would love to see Utomi move to the 3 spot, but I fear he is doomed to play a majority of his minutes at the 4 for at least one more season. 

 

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I'm going to guess another scholarship frees itself up one way or another. Personally, I don't mind Utomi playing 15-20 min a night at the 4. I want our best players on the court as many minutes as possible and it appears the strength of our team is going to be at the g/sf positions.

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Are people comparing Riak & Poke because of their tall-yet-slender build? Or have people seen Riak play and he is every bit as awkward with the ball as Poke is?

 

Regarding the open scholarship, I really hope it goes to a true PG, regardless if it's a transfer or freshman recruit. We need a floor general - made evident by Duvivier being thrust into the PG position instead of his obviously natural SG role - and I don't know what to make of Cotton with his seemingly constant doghouse troubles, nor do I know much about Loren Jackson. I wouldn't be upset if it went to a big, though.

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3 hours ago, Let'sGoZips94 said:

Are people comparing Riak & Poke because of their tall-yet-slender build? Or have people seen Riak play and he is every bit as awkward with the ball as Poke is?

 

Regarding the open scholarship, I really hope it goes to a true PG, regardless if it's a transfer or freshman recruit. We need a floor general - made evident by Duvivier being thrust into the PG position instead of his obviously natural SG role - and I don't know what to make of Cotton with his seemingly constant doghouse troubles, nor do I know much about Loren Jackson. I wouldn't be upset if it went to a big, though.

 

I'm looking at the same things. I really worry about Cotton. He has shown that he has the talent, but he is lacking somewhere; focus, motor, leadership, discipline...something. Hopefully it's just a maturity thing he can overcome. You showed us that Groce offered another true shooting guard. Perhaps Groce thinks after watching Hester for a year he can run the offense. I have a good feeling about Christian Jackson after watching a bit of his game film at Long Beach State, but we need another, bigger PG option next year. I predict in time, Toles will run the point periodically as well. All just speculation.

 

Edit: Name change, thanks Hilltopper.

Edited by Illini Zip

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2 hours ago, Let'sGoZips94 said:

Are people comparing Riak & Poke because of their tall-yet-slender build? Or have people seen Riak play and he is every bit as awkward with the ball as Poke is?

 

Regarding the open scholarship, I really hope it goes to a true PG, regardless if it's a transfer or freshman recruit. We need a floor general - made evident by Duvivier being thrust into the PG position instead of his obviously natural SG role - and I don't know what to make of Cotton with his seemingly constant doghouse troubles, nor do I know much about Loren Jackson. I wouldn't be upset if it went to a big, though.

 

I've never seen Riak play personally.  My guess on him starting was because of his size and Groce raving about his defensive ability when he initially signed on.  

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1 hour ago, Hilltopper said:

Jackson goes by his middle name, Christian. Christian Jackson. Not Loren.

 

Really? That's odd...he is listed on Twitter as Loren Jackson - his ID is even @Little_Loren3

 

Thanks for clarifying! 

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7 minutes ago, UAZip0510 said:

Hester is indeed eligible starting January 2019.

Do you know why? That seems uncommon. Maybe a reason he transferred was grades and he has to regain eligibility there as well?

Edited by LZIp

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7 minutes ago, LZIp said:

Do you know why? That seems uncommon. Maybe a reason he transferred was grades and he has to regain eligibility there as well?

 

Hmm.  So, that would be 1 sit-out year, and an additional semester to regain academic eligibility?  I don't know if I have ever seen that.  

 

That would suck.  I think he's a guy we need to get on the floor asap.  

 

 

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48 minutes ago, LZIp said:

Do you know why? That seems uncommon. Maybe a reason he transferred was grades and he has to regain eligibility there as well?

 

He has to regain eligibility - I'll leave it at that.

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On 2/19/2018 at 11:00 AM, Illini Zip said:

 

I'm looking at the same things. I really worry about Cotton. He has shown that he has the talent, but he is lacking somewhere; focus, motor, leadership, discipline...something. Hopefully it's just a maturity thing he can overcome. You showed us that Groce offered another true shooting guard. Perhaps Groce thinks after watching Hester for a year he can run the offense. I have a good feeling about Christian Jackson after watching a bit of his game film at Long Beach State, but we need another, bigger PG option next year. I predict in time, Toles will run the point periodically as well. All just speculation.

 

Edit: Name change, thanks Hilltopper.

 

Ditto on Cotton.  I love the kid's play and moxie, but there's something up there that I can't put my finger on.  He had his tiff with Ivey and a DNP shortly thereafter followed by his recent one game suspension.  It makes me most uneasy as to his future. 

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37 minutes ago, clarkwgriswold said:

 

Ditto on Cotton.  I love the kid's play and moxie, but there's something up there that I can't put my finger on.  He had his tiff with Ivey and a DNP shortly thereafter followed by his recent one game suspension.  It makes me most uneasy as to his future. 

Maybe you all should stop saying he looks like a girl with his dreds and that he needs a haircut. Words hurt.:rolleyes:

Edited by NWAkron
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