Katz: UMass should be A-10 contender

July, 30, 2012
7/30/12
8:28
PM ET
In his Summer Shootaround feature on the Atlantic 10, ESPN.com's Andy Katz sees UMass as a contender to be near the top of what should be a stacked conference, with a berth in the NCAA tournament a real possibility.

Katz lays out best- and worst-case scenarios for all 16 teams in the league this coming season, as well as listing a player to watch for each team. Here's his take on the Minutemen:
Best-case scenario: Chaz Williams becomes a bonafide star. The 5-foot-11 guard submitted a solid all-around season in 2012-13, but he took his play up a notch in UMass's run to the NIT semifinals, averaging 21.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists. Meanwhile, though the Minutemen lose leading rebounder Sean Carter, Cady Lalanne posted rebounding rates of 16.0 (offensive) and 23.1 (defensive) before a foot injury ended a promising season. And the Minutemen return the rest of a rotation that won 25 games. There's a reason this conference is hailed as deep, and it goes beyond the additions of VCU and Butler. UMass will have to be reckoned with, too.

Worst-case scenario: Before we get too excited about Williams' performance in the NIT, it was just four games. That's a small sample size; Williams will have to convert his 2-point field goals at a higher clip than 40 percent, and lower his turnover rate, if he wants to improve his overall efficiency. Still, Massachusetts should be a factor near the top of the A-10 table. The only question is how high.
CLICK HERE for the full Summer Shootaround entry.

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