Morrison’s rankings: Breaking down teams 7-9 in the Horizon League

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Photo by Horizon League

Ethan Morrison ranks 7-9 in the Horizon League. Oakland (left), Youngstown State (center), Purdue Fort Wayne (right)

By Ethan Morrison, Assistant Sports Editor

Editor’s Note: The initial version of this article stated that the longest-tenured coach in the Horizon League, Greg Kampe, had only been at Oakland for 22 years. He has been at the school for 37 seasons.

As the college basketball season inches closer and closer, Morrison’s rankings returns as I break down the teams 7-9 in my projected Horizon League men’s basketball preseason rankings. Last week, I broke down the bottom three.

9. Purdue Fort Wayne

2020-21 record: (8-15 Overall, 6-14 Horizon) Finished 11th in Horizon League, Lost to Cleveland State 108-104 in 3OT in Horizon League quarterfinals

Top non-conference matchups

  1. November 19 @ Minnesota (Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Invitational)
  2. December 21 @ Michigan

Key additions

  1. Damian Chong Qui – Sr. Guard (Mount Saint Mary’s)
  2. Quinton Morton-Robertson – Jr. Guard (Radford)

Notable Subtractions

Demetric Horton – Jr. Guard (North Carolina A&T)

Players to Watch

  1. Damian Chong Qui – Sr. Guard – 2020-21 at Mount: 15.1 PPG, 5.3 APG (Led NEC), 4.2 RPG
  2. Jalon Pipkins – Grad. Guard – 2020-21: 14.3 PPG, 52 FG%, 44% 3Pt
  3. Bobby Planutis – R-Sr. Forward – 2020-21: 10.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 50 FG%, 45% 3Pt

The Outlook

After the Mastodons’ wild end to their season where they fell in triple-overtime to eventual Horizon League Champion Cleveland State, Purdue Fort Wayne enters their sophomore campaign in the Horizon League with a ton of optimism. The team returns three of its four leading scorers which include Jarred Godfrey (16 PPG) Jalon Pipkins (14 PPG) and Bobby Planutis (10 PPG).

The team also added a key piece in Damian Chong Qui, who transferred into the program after three seasons at Mount Saint Mary’s. There, he led the Mountaineers to an NEC tournament championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament on the hands of 15.1 points per game along with a Northeast Conference-leading 5.3 assists per game.

The main concern for the Mastodons lies in the frontcourt as they were inconsistent in producing points down low. Redshirt senior forward Ra Kpedi led the frontcourt in scoring while averaging just over three points per game. The addition of Redford Dunton, a 2021 McDonald’s All-American Nominee, ensures that he will be a key contributor to the frontcourt this season.

Depth in terms of size will be the Mastodons’ problem this season, but I would not be surprised if IPFW inched up in the standings as a result of their superb guard play once again.

8. Youngstown State

2020-21 record: (15-12 Overall, 9-11 Horizon) Finished 6th in Horizon League, Lost 87-83 to Oakland in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament

Top non-conference games

  1. November 10 @ Penn State
  2. December 22 @ West Virginia

Key additions

Chris Shelton – Jr. Guard (Hampton)

Notable Subtractions

  1. Naz Bohannon – Sr. Forward (Clemson)
  2. Darrius Quisenberry – Jr. Guard (Fordham)

Players to Watch

  1. Michael Akuchie – Sr. Forward – 2020-21: 9.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 45 FG%
  2. Garrett Covington – Sr. Guard – 2020-21: 12.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 49 FG%

The Outlook

Losing Darius Quisenberry to the portal was hard enough on the Penguins, but losing Naz Bohannon in the same offseason killed the Penguins’ momentum after a modest 2020-21 campaign.

Hope is not lost, however, as the Penguins return Garrett Covington and Michael Akuchie, who besides both Bohannon and Quisenberry, led the team in scoring with 16.5 PPG and 14.9 PPG, respectively.

The addition of senior guard Collen Gurley also does not hurt either, as in three seasons at the University of Mount Union (DIII), he scored 1,003 total points while averaging 14.3 a game. He was also named OAC Freshman of the year in 2019 and made 100 shots from beyond the arc while helping lead the Raiders to a tournament run.

Losing Bohannon and Quisenberry will hurt the Penguins’ chances of landing towards the upper half of the conference in the preseason poll, but if Gurley, Covington and Akuchie all produce, there’s a very good chance that they could be a threat down the stretch in the Horizon League.

7. Oakland

2020-21 record: (12-18 Overall, 10-10 Horizon) Finished 5th in Horizon League, Lost to Cleveland State in the Horizon League Tournament Finals 80-69

Top non-conference games

  1. November 9 @ West Virginia
  2. November 12 @ Oklahoma State
  3. November 19 @ Alabama
  4. December 21 vs. Michigan State (Game at. Little Caesars Arena)

Key additions

Jamal Cain – Grad. Forward (Marquette)

Notable Subtractions

  1. Daniel Oladapo – Jr. Forward (Pittsburgh)
  2. Rashad Williams – Jr. Guard (St. Louis)

Players to Watch

  1. Jamal Cain – Grad. Forward – 2020-21 at Marquette: 9.6 PPG, 44% FG
  2. Jalen Moore – Jr. Guard – 2020-21: 17.9 PPG, 8.4 APG, 4.1 RPG
  3. Trey Townsend – Fr. Forward – 2020-21: 8.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, .8 BLK/G (Led Team)

The Outlook

The Golden Grizzlies shocked the league last season. After finishing as the third overall seed and defeating Youngstown State and Northern Kentucky in the Tournament, they lost by 11 points to Cleveland State in the finals with a trip to the “Big Dance” on the line.

Oakland lost two of its top scorers to the portal. Rashad Williams, who averaged 13 points per game, transferred to Saint Louis in March of last year. Williams appeared in 28 games while still with the team and was a key contributor to their success during the regular season. The team also lost Daniel Oladapo, who averaged 12.9 points per game at the power forward position. He transferred to Pitt in April.

The Golden Grizzlies still have some key pieces in place. Junior guard Jalen Moore led the team in scoring with just under 18 points per game. Freshmen Micah Parrish and Trey Townsend, who both averaged around eight points per game, return to the roster for their second season.

As Oakland enters the 37th year of the Greg Kampe era, there are a lot of areas where we could see Oakland make a push into the top half of the conference standings by the end of the year.

Stay connected with Colonial Sports Network as both the men’s and women’s teams gear up for the start of the new year by following @RMU_CSN on Twitter. Next week, I will be breaking down the middle of the pack, featuring teams 6-4 in the Horizon League.