Morrison’s Rankings: Horizon League MBB bottom three preseason rankings

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Photo by Horizon League

Ethan Morrison ranks Horizon League teams 10-12.

By Ethan Morrison, Assistant Sports Editor

With the college basketball season less than a month away, and preseason polls slowly coming out over the next three weeks leading up to the opening night, I will be breaking down my choices for the Horizon League men’s basketball landscape this season.

These rankings will be based on players returning to their respective teams along with transfers and recruits that are coming into the program, and statistics from those players from their past season.

12. Green Bay Phoenix

2020-21 Record: (8-17 Overall, 8-12 Conference) Finished 9th in Horizon League, Lost to Purdue Fort Wayne 89-84 in the first round of the 2021 of the Horizon League Tournament

Top Non-Conference Matchups

  1. November 12 @ Wisconsin
  2. December 12 @ Kansas State
  3. December 22 @ Minnesota

Key Additions

Nate Jenkins, So. Guard (Iowa State)

Notable Subtractions:

  1. Josh Jefferson, R-Sr. Guard (Middle Tennesse)
  2. Amari Davis, Jr. Guard (Missouri)
  3. PJ Pipes, R-Sr. Guard (Santa Clara)

Players to Watch

Emmanuel Ansong, Jr. Forward

2020-21: 19 games, 10.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 58.2 FG%

The Outlook

It is the second year of the Will Ryan era in Green Bay as they come into the new season with a very young roster. The Phoenix’s roster underwent a major overhaul during the offseason as three of the four leading scorers on last year’s squad left, consisting of Amari Davis (17.2 PPG) Josh Jefferson (14.8 PPG) and PJ Pipes (14.5 PPG).

Emmanuel Ansong headlines this year’s roster after appearing in 19 games and starting in seven, averaging 10.4 PPG. Sophomore guard Nate Jenkins looks to find a home in Green Bay as he transfers into the program after spending two seasons with Iowa State and only averaging just under four minutes a game with the Cyclones.

Green Bay will most likely struggle during the season against the more veteran teams in the Horizon League, which is why they will slot in at the number 12 spot in the rankings.

11. IUPUI Jaguars

2020-21 Record: (8-10 Overall, 7-9 Conference) Finished 7th in Horizon League, Lost to Milwaukee 84-72 in first round of the 2021 Horizon League Tournament

Top non-conference games

  1. November 9 @ Butler

Key Additions

  1. B.J. Maxwell, Grad. G/F (St. Edward’s University)
  2. Boston Stanton III, Freshman Guard (Denver East)

Notable Subtractions:

  1. Jaylen Minnett, Guard R-Sr. (Missouri State)
  2. Marcus Burk Guard (Exit Early Pro)
  3. Elyjah Goss Guard (Exit Early Pro)

Players to Watch

B.J. Maxwell, G/F

2020-21: 18.6 PPG 5.3 RPG 47.5 FG% 36.7 3pt%

Boston Stanton III, Guard

The Outlook

After exceeding expectations in the COVID-ridden 2020-21 season, the Jaguars enter with a new leader at the helm as the athletic department hired IUPUI alumnus Matt Crenshaw in April 2021.

The move came shortly after guard Jaylen Minnett tested the waters of the transfer portal and committed to Missouri State. Just like Green Bay, the Jaguars have a very young team entering Crenshaw’s first year.

B.J. Maxwell will be a key component of the team this year as he enters his fifth year of collegiate basketball action. He spent time at Abilene Christian for two seasons averaging 5.3 PPG, he then transferred to Horizon League foe Detroit Mercy where appeared in just two games with the Titans and then spent last year at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, before landing in the Circle City.

Crenshaw looks to build a winning culture around the Jaguars, but after losing Marcus Burk, Jaylen Minnett and Elyjah Goss, it’s going to be tough sledding for IUPUI this season.

10. UIC Flames

2020-21 Record: (9-13 Overall, 6-10 Conference) Finished 10th in Horizon League, Lost 74-58 to Youngstown State in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament

Notable non-conference games

  1. November 20 @ Loyola
  2. December 14 vs. DePaul

Key Additions:

  1. Damaria Franklin, Sr. Guard (Tennesse Tech)
  2. Brandon Battle, Grad. Forward (Alabama State)
  3. Jalen Warren, Grad. Guard (Florida Gulf Coast)

Notable Subtractions

  1. Rob Howard, Forward (Exit Early Pro)
  2. Teyvion Kirk, Guard (Exit Early Pro)
  3. Braelyn Bridges, R-Sr. Guard (Georgia)

Players To Watch

Maurice Commander, Sr. Guard

2020-21: 12 games 10.8 PPG 39 FG% 40% 3pt%

Michael Diggins, Grad. Forward

2020-21: 19 Games 19 Starts 11.3 PPG 5.7 RPG

Jalen Warren, Grad. Guard

2020-21: 12.3 PPG 47 FG% in two seasons at Flordia Gulf Coast

The Outlook

The Flames look to bounce back from a very disappointing 2020-21 campaign where they finished in tenth place in the conference standings after falling to Northern Kentucky in the 2020 Horizon League Championship game.

Luke Yaklich enters his second year as head coach as he welcomes eight new signees to this year’s roster. In addition to those eight, Maurice Commander returns for his second season in Chi-Town after averaging 10.8 points per game. Michael Diggins also returns to the team this year after putting up a career-high 11.3 points per game.

Losing leading scorer Teyvion Kirk and veteran forwards Braelen Bridges & Rob Howard, it looks as if the flames will once again be put on the back-burner in the Horizon League.

Stayed tuned to Colonial Sports Network for more updates and news regarding the men’s and women’s basketball teams as they slowly inch closer to tipping off their seasons.