College Basketball Nation: Dennis Tinnon

Conference USA's most important players

July, 25, 2012
7/25/12
7:25
PM ET
Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on C-USA, click here.

The most important player for each team in the conference ...

East Carolina: Miguel Paul
Paul ran the show in effective fashion for ECU last season, posting a 108.8 offensive rating while leading his team in usage and submitting the ninth-best assist rate in the nation (40.6). He'll be just as crucial in his final season.

Houston: Danuel House
House is the most talented recruit the Houston men's basketball program has landed in a long time. He could have chosen just about any destination for college ball, but he chose to stay in Houston and play for third-year coach James Dickey. House could be a star on a previously irrelevant team from day one.

Marshall: Dennis Tinnon
Marshall didn't miss the NCAA tournament by much last season, but miss the tourney it did. If that changes, it will be in part because Tinnon -- who posted a 120.2 offensive rating and ranked in the top 50 nationally in defensive and offensive rebounding rate -- takes on an even larger share of the offense.

Memphis: Joe Jackson
The lightning-quick Memphis native carries the weight of a city on his back every time he plays. Through his first two seasons, Jackson has often displayed why those childhood expectations started in the first place -- even if it feels like we haven't seen him put it all together just yet.

[+] EnlargeArsalan Kazemi
AP Photo/Erich SchlegelArsalan Kazemi, who plays for Iran's national team, averaged 12.1 points and 10.3 rebounds as a junior last season.
Rice: Arsalan Kazemi
One of the nation's unknown stars is Rice's best player and its most important, a rebounding force who needs to command double-teams to help the Owls improve last season's putrid offense.

SMU: Jalen Jones
Speaking of putrid offense, SMU was awful on that side of the floor in 2011-12. But freshman guard Jones showed plenty of potential along the way.

Southern Miss: Neil Watson
The 5-foot-11 guard was former coach Larry Eustachy's second-most-used offensive option last season, when he shot 37.5 percent from the 3-point line and posted a 30.7 percent assist rate. Both of those figures should improve in 2012.

Tulane: Ricky Tarrant
It has been a tough decade or so for Tulane hoops, but Tarrant, who averaged 14.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists (and efficiently so) as a freshman last season, will give the Green Wave at least one go-to option going forward.

Tulsa: Scottie Haralson
Losing leading scorer Jordan Clarkson to an unflattering (for Tulsa) transfer scenario was a major blow, which is chief among the reasons why Haralson must step up as a senior.

UAB: Preston Purifoy
The Blazers are in rebuilding mode after firing coach Mike Davis, so all personnel bets are off. That means Purifoy, by far the team's most efficient player last season, could get more opportunities to show his skills.

UCF: Marcus Jordan
Keith Clanton is the more obvious pick, but he and Isaiah Sykes form a nice rebounding tandem on the low block. Jordan will have the ball in his hands more often and will have to be far more consistent to live up to the flashes of excellence we've seen in his time at UCF.

UTEP: Julian Washburn
Junior John Bohannon is a known quantity, a solid post man and an active rebounder who converts his opportunities well. Washburn, a 6-7 sophomore, has tons of upside, but he will have to become much more efficient in his second season.
1. Marshall’s chances of wrestling the Conference USA title away from Memphis increased dramatically with the news that Dennis Tinnon will receive another year of eligibility. Tinnon averaged 10 points and 10 boards for the Thundering Herd. The 6-8 forward should be one of the top forwards in Conference USA. Coach Tom Herrion said the decision on Tinnon was a major development for Marshall and changes the complexion of this team. He said there was no Plan B for Tinnon or the Herd if this fell through. Marshall should have one of the top inside-out combos in the league with DeAndre Kane and Tinnon. Memphis coach Josh Pastner said Marshall is “loaded” and should be the favorite. But it’s hard to look past Memphis’ talent pool and put Marshall ahead of them, even with the departures of Will Barton and Wesley Witherspoon. Still, Marshall could legitimately push Memphis for the title and not having the tournament in Memphis (it’s in Tulsa) takes away a major advantage in March.

2. Providence coach Ed Cooley said that the best-case scenario for highly-touted newcomer guard Kris Dunn is for him to be ready to play by December after right shoulder surgery. Meanwhile, Cooley said that Ricky Ledo isn’t going to be in summer school because he’s not eligible. But Cooley said he remains optimistic that Ledo will get through the NCAA Eligibility Center in time to play in the fall. Cooley does have one significant player to count on in his second season. He said Vincent Council “is the best guard in the Big East.’’ He said watching him work out this week reassured him of this fact even more.

3. Denver officials weren’t initially talking about the Pioneers becoming members of the WAC on Sunday. But men’s basketball coach Joe Scott offered up a few statements Thursday about the move. “The league will be good for us,’’ said Scott of the Pioneers’ first-year in the WAC with fellow new members Seattle, UTA, Texas State and UTSA before the latter three jet off to the Sun Belt and C-USA, respectively. The league will also say goodbye in 2013 to Utah State and San Jose State (MWC) and Louisiana Tech (C-USA). “We’ve got to do well in the WAC this year. We’ve got four starters back from a 22-win team.’’ Denver would love to be with other like teams and get an invite from the WCC. But that’s not an option at this point. “We just have to do as well as we can in the WAC, win as many games as we can and hope things have a way of working out. Hopefully good things will happen. It’s a fluid situation out there.’’

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