In his second season with the Spartans, coach Mike Jones will try to improve on a winning record and first round loss in the CBI. He’ll have a veteran team that returns size and its top two playmaking guards. He also adds two impact transfers and two freshmen, so the ingredients are there to take a step forward.
2021-22 record: 17-15 (9-9 Southern Conference)
Top players: The team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, 6-foot-10 senior Bas Leyte, returns after averaging 9.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game last year. Forward Mohammed Abdulsalam (6.4 points, 4.8 rebounds) and guard Dante Treacy (6.8 points, 2.8 assists) return for super senior years, while the Langley brothers Kobe (7.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists) and Keyshaun (8.4, 1.6, 2.3) return for their senior seasons.
Key additions: Mikeal Brown-Jones, a 6-foot-8 power forward, transfers in after two seasons as a reserve at Virginia Commonwealth. Keondre Kennedy transfers after three seasons with UMBC, including a 14.8-point, 5.1-rebound season last year. Jalen Breath, a freshman who redshirted last year, and new arrival Donovan Atwell round out the group.
Departed players: Guard De’Monte Buckingham, who led the team in scoring (12.5) and rebounding (6.3) last year, graduated, and Khyre Thompson moves from the forward position to the coaching staff. The team also loses Miles Jones, a rising junior reserve who suffered a season-ending injury during practice.
Expectations: Jones has a veteran returning core of contributors and adds two experienced veterans to it. The team should have a strong frontcourt presence and a group of upperclassmen at the guard positions. That’s the key to tournament success. In a one-bid league, however, they’ll need to outlast Furman, Chattanooga and Wofford in the regular season and SoCon Tournament first.