Preview: Georgia Southern
Can the Eagles overcome the loss of star forward Eric Ferguson?
2013-14 Southern Projected Standings1. Davidson | 2. Elon | 3. Samford | 4. Western Carolina | 5. Appalachian State | 6. Wofford | 7. UNC-Greensboro | 8. Chattanooga | 9. Georgia Southern | 10. Furman | 11. Citadel
2012-13: 14-19 (7-11)
In-conference offense: 1.00 points per possession (9th)
In-conference defense: 1.04 points per possession (8th)
In replacing coach Charlton Young after a disappointing 2012-13 season, Georgia Southern welcomed aboard a familiar coaching opponent for its final season in the Southern Conference. Mark Byington served as an assistant for former SoCon foe Charleston and as the interim coach when Bobby Cremins stepped down during 2011-12.
Byington brought one of Charleston's best players with him to Statesboro, power forward Trent Wiedeman, but Wiedeman won't be eligible until 2014-15. Byington also won't get to employ immediately the talents of two-time All-SoCon forward Eric Ferguson, who underwent knee surgery in April and is taking a redshirt for 2013-14. In addition, would-be sophomore Cleon Roberts' transfer to La Salle took away a promising young scorer Byington could've used.
The return of Jelani Hewitt -- who missed the entire 2012-13 season after being suspended for academics -- gives Byington a major backcourt boost. As a sophomore in 2011-12, the 6-foot-2 Hewitt hit 40 percent of his 3-pointers. Guard Tre Bussey returns after starting 24 games, but managed just 39 percent accuracy inside the arc, and 31 percent outside it.
Kameron Dunnican, who was a three-star recruit coming out of high school, has yet to live up to that billing after two seasons. The 6-8 Dunnican played just 26 percent of the available minutes last season, but he was a shot-blocking presence when on the court, posting a rejection rate of 7.1. Marvin Baynham, a 6-7 senior, started 12 games a season ago. He took nothing but 2-pointers, hitting 54 percent of them, and continued the excellent offensive rebounding he's displayed his whole career, grabbing nearly 12 percent of GSU's misses while in the game.
Senior Brian Holmes and sophomore Chris Daniels are also backcourt returners. Daniels struggled shooting the ball in minimal minutes as a freshman, but grabbed a few boards. Holmes missed the last seven games of the year with a knee injury.
Torlorf Thomas, a 6-4 combo guard ranked by Rivals as a three-star recruit, might make an immediate impact as a freshman. Two juco transfers join the roster with solid credentials: Angel Matias, a 6-4 wing who averaged 17.5 points for Mississippi Gulf Coast before a foot injury ended his season last January, and Curtis Diamond, a 6-3 guard who hit 41 percent of his 3s at Tallahassee Community College.
Projected 2013-14 conference finish: 9th
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2013-14 Insider College Hoops Preview
In the lead-up to the 2013-14 college basketball season, Insider is providing preview articles on every Division I team, as well as essays from Insider's analysts and experts.