Don’t sleep on the SWAC! Texas Southern are the early favorites, but they will have plenty of competition.
Texas Southern’s Coach, Mike Davis, thought last year would be a down year for his squad… Yet all the Tigers did was go was go 16-2 in league play. While the Tigers dominated the regular season, it was ultimately Southern University that represented the SWAC in the NCAA Tournament. This year the Tigers will again dominate, but come March the SWAC will still be up for grabs.
SWAC PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS:
- Texas Southern– The Tigers don’t rebuild, they reload. Coach Mike Davis lost 5 Seniors, but don’t expect this to team to fall off. For the first time SWAC Player of The Year, Derrick Griffin will be a full-time basketball player. He previously split time between the football field and basketball court. This season, Griffin will be surrounded by talented transfers Marvin Jones (Kent State), Stephan Bennett (Robert Morris), Zach Lofton (Minnesota) , and Dulani Robinson (Pacific). In addition to JUCO standouts Kevin Scott and Lamont Walker. The Tigers play a brutual non-conference schedule with games against top programs like Louisville, Arizona, LSU, and Cincinnati. However, with all of this talent we wont be surprised if Texas Southern is a Cinderella team come March.
- Jackson State– JSU ended last year on a positive note; notching a post-season win over Sam Houston State. Coach Wayne Brent has this team ready to build off that experience. The Tigers return 6 players from last year.Including the dynamic backcourt duo of Chace Franklin and Paris Collins. Franklin was top 10 in SWAC three-pointers made, defensive rebounds, assists, steals, and points. Expect this veteran team to be physical and play tough defense.
It’s a shame APR issues continue to haunt this program. Post season aspirations are already null and void before the first tip. However, look for second year Coach Montez Robinson to still field a competitive team. Last season they finished 2nd in the SWAC. This offseason Coach Robinson emphasized getting more speed, athleticism, and shooting. It’s early, but it looks like he accomplished that goal with a talented freshman recruiting class. Look for JUCO stars A.J. Mosby (16.9 PPG), Avery Patterson (43% from 3), and 5th year senior Denzel Dulin to have an immediate impact.
- Prairie View A&M– There is a reason Coach Byron Smith shed the “Interim” Head Coach label so fast. His late season victories over Texas Southern and Southern were no fluke and should get fans excited. Smith’s top 3 scorers return. In addition, he was able to nab former UNLV guard Daquan Cook and former Vanderbilt guard A.J. Astroth. The Panthers are our “SWAC Sleeper Pick”
- Southern- In somewhat of an upset, Southern won last season’s SWAC Tournament and earned the coveted NCAA Tournament bid. This year losing All-SWAC First Team Forward Adrian Rogers and minutes leader Christopher Hyder will cause the Jaguars to take a small step back. Regardless, Coach’s son Tre’lun Banks (12.4 PPG) and Shawn Prudhomme (9.7 PPG) are talented enough to keep this team competitive.
- Alabama State- Last year the Hornets were simply unable to finish games. At one point, they lost six conference games in a row by 4 points or less. This season will be more difficult as the Hornets replace their leading scorer (Jamel Waters) and leading rebounder (Bobby Brown). However, they still have a very talented frontcourt. 6’7 Mississippi State transfer, Demetrius Houston, and 6’6 Tony Armstrong should give opposing defensives fits.
- Mississippi Valley State– Typically having 4 players transfer off your team would be cause for panic. Losing that talent will hurt, but the Delta Devils do return 9 players. Maybe Coach Andre Payne can build on his player’s offseason development and winning 3 out of their last 5 games. It will be interesting to see if the Delta Devil’s new homecourt helps give them a home-field advantage.
- Alabama A&M- Bulldog fans can rejoice, as their APR ban has been lifted. In other words, postseason play is a possibility. Coach Willie Hayes lost star-player LaDarius Tabb to the NBA D-League. Fortunetly, he returns one of the best point guards in the nation Rakiya Battle. Battle was ranked in the top 10 nationally for assist rate.
- Grambling State- This is the year! The Tigers will finally finish above last place in the SWAC. A position they have held down for the last 3 years. This offseason Coach Shawn Walker had each player shoot 7,000 shots a week! Hopefully this translates to in game success, as the as the Tigers were one of the worst shooting teams in the nation. SWAC Freshman of the Year, Nigel Ribeiro, should have another breakout year. It is reasonable to believe the Tigers will be better at finising games this season. They lost their last 5 SWAC games by 2 points or less.
- Arkansas Pine-Bluff- The Golden Lions were absolutely terrible on offense last year. In SWAC play they turned the ball over on 23% of possessions! They return their leading scorer Ghiavonni Robinson (11.1 PPG) and also brought in some JUCO talent. Their preseason play against Canadian colleges should offer hope, but look for the Golden Lions to struggle.