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A-10 preview: VCU, Rhode Island & Dayton poised to battle for league crown

VCU is once again projected to battle for the A-10 title, but resurgent Rhode Island could present a formidable challenge.
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Sports Illustrated’s 2016–17 preview is guided by data from our College Basketball Projection System, a collaboration between economist Dan Hanner and SI’s Luke Winn and Jeremy Fuchs. We project teams on a player-by-player, lineup-based level and then simulate the season 10,000 times to generate our 1–351 national rankings and conference forecasts.

These are the model’s projections for the A-10, including individual awards, the teams’ order of finish and (advanced and raw) stats for the top seven players in each school’s rotation.

Find more about how our projection system works here, and read all of our 2016–17 preview content here

Player of the Year: Jack Gibbs, Davidson

Gibbs finished fourth among multi-bid conference players in scoring last season, and we project him to be the top scorer in college basketball this year. If he beats out players from bigger teams and conferences, like Duke’s Grayson Allen and Iowa’s Peter Jok, expect Gibbs to be a lock for conference player of the year and in the conversation for national player of the year. You can also expect to hear a lot of Stephen Curry comparisons, even as Gibbs tries his best to keep them at bay.

Newcomer of the Year: Emile Blackman, Duquesne

Blackman arrives to Duquesne as part of the great diaspora from Niagara, which has lost 20 players to transfer since coach Chris Casey began his tenure in 2013. Last year, Blackman averaged 15.8 points in 33.4 minutes a game for the Purple Eagles, and he was the team’s emotional core. This season he projects as the Dukes’ leading scorer in part because of his history of high-volume (and decent-efficiency) shooting and in part because Duquesne is replacing its top four scorers from 2015–16.

Josh Hart, Grayson Allen lead SI's player of the year projections

All-Conference Team & Sixth Man

PG: Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure
PG: Jack Gibbs, Davidson
SG: Charles Cooke, Dayton
PF: T.J. Cline, Richmond
PF: Tyler Cavanaugh, George Washington
6th man: SG: EC Matthews, Rhode Island 

Projected Order of Finish

(Projected conference record in parentheses. The tiebreaker for teams with identical records is their standing in SI’s 1–351 national rankings, which will be revealed in early November.)

Conference Rank

Team

Proj. Conf. Record

’15-16 Conf. Record

1

VCU

13–5

14–4

2

Rhode Island

13–5

9–9

3

Dayton

13–5

14–4

4

Davidson

11–7

10–8

5

Richmond

10–8

7–11

6

George Washington

10–8

11–7

7

St. Bonaventure

9–9

14–4

8

Saint Joseph's

8–10

13–5

9

La Salle

8–10

4–14

10

Massachusetts

8–10

6–12

11

Fordham

7–11

8–10

12

George Mason

6–12

5–13

13

Duquesne

5–13

6–12

14

Saint Louis

5–13

5–13

1. VCU (13–5)

In Will Wade’s first season, the Rams finished in a three-way tie for first place in the A-10 and advanced to the tournament championship before losing to St. Joseph’s. And although they lost leading scorer Melvin Johnson, last year’s No. 2, JeQuan Lewis, has shown he’s ready to handle a bigger role. In VCU’s five postseason games, he averaged 21.0 points and 8.0 assists. He’ll be complemented by big man Justin Tillman and middle linebacker Mo Alie-Cox down low. Four-star wing De’Riante Jenkins is the prize of the 2016 recruiting class, and fellow freshman Samir Doughty should be a key contributor from the start of the season.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

JeQuan Lewis

Sr

PG

13.1

2.6

5.2

112.2

23%

78%

Justin Tillman

Jr

PF

11.7

7.9

0.5

120.7

21%

65%

Mo Alie-Cox

Sr

PF

11.2

5.8

1.1

121.5

19%

69%

De'Riante Jenkins

Fr

SF/SG

8.2

3.5

1.1

106.3

20%

52%

Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed

Jr

PF

8.0

4.6

0.4

101.3

25%

44%

Samir Doughty

Fr

SG

6.4

2.4

1.1

99.4

19%

47%

Jonathan Williams

Jr

PG

5.7

1.7

2.4

102.1

19%

47%

2. Rhode Island (13–5)

Rhode Island was a trendy pick as an A-10 contender and NCAA tournament sleeper team a year ago, but those hopes came crashing down when star guard E.C. Matthews tore his ACL 10 minutes into the season opener. Matthews is now healthy, and an experienced team surrounds him: Each of our seven top projected scorers for the Rams is an upperclassman.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

E.C. Matthews

Sr

SG

15.3

4.1

2.0

109.2

24%

79%

Jared Terrell

Jr

PG/SG

13.9

3.5

2.6

109.2

22%

85%

Hassan Martin

Sr

PF/C

13.0

6.6

0.9

113.6

22%

73%

Jarvis Garrett

Jr

PG

12.1

3.3

4.4

108.4

22%

82%

Kuran Iverson

Sr

SF/PF

9.6

7.5

1.7

109.2

18%

73%

Andre Berry

Jr

PF

3.1

2.2

0.3

114.6

14%

27%

Stanford Robinson

Jr

SG

3.0

1.8

0.8

110.7

18%

29%

3. Dayton (13–5)

The Flyers are still reeling from the tragic death of 20-year-old center Steve McElvene in May. This year, Archie Miller will look to guide Dayton to the team’s fourth straight NCAA tournament with four seniors as his top scorers. Wing Charles Cooke is a projected first-team All A-10 player.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

Charles Cooke

Sr

SG

15.4

5.6

1.8

110.9

24%

79%

Scoochie Smith

Sr

PG

12.7

3.7

4.5

113.1

21%

81%

Kendall Pollard

Sr

PF

11.7

5.4

1.4

102.6

23%

68%

Kyle Davis

Sr

PG

9.4

3.4

2.4

114.3

17%

69%

Josh Cunningham

So

PF

7.1

5.2

0.7

103.4

19%

51%

Darrell Davis

Jr

SG

6.4

2.4

1.2

100.8

19%

47%

Xeyrius Williams

So

SF

4.7

3.4

0.6

106.1

15%

43%

4. Davidson (11–7)

Bob McKillop has assembled a roster comprised of players from seven different countries and three continents, but the most important of them will no doubt be Ohio native Jack Gibbs. Stretch four Peyton Aldridge will benefit from a substantially healthier frontcourt alongside him this season.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

Jack Gibbs

Sr

PG

23.6

3.7

5.0

112.2

34%

87%

Peyton Aldridge

Jr

PF

16.0

6.7

2.2

122.9

21%

87%

Jordan Watkins

Jr

SG

10.8

3.3

2.0

110.3

17%

80%

Nathan Ekwu

Jr

PF

6.2

6.1

0.9

113.5

17%

55%

William Magarity

Jr

PF/C

5.5

3.6

0.5

104.1

20%

40%

Oskar Michelsen

Jr

SF

4.9

2.3

1.1

112.8

14%

45%

Rusty Reigel

Jr

SG

3.8

2.3

1.3

105.1

12%

49%

5. Richmond (10–8)

The Spiders posted the worst conference record in coach Chris Mooney’s 11-year tenure last season. Thanks to seniors T.J. Cline and ShawnDre’ Jones, Richmond seems like a safe bet to move back above .500 in the league, but an at-large NCAA tournament bid is a shakier prospect.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

T.J. Cline

Sr

PF

19.6

6.3

3.5

116.6

29%

80%

ShawnDre' Jones

Sr

PG

15.3

2.0

3.5

116.1

22%

87%

Marshall Wood

Sr

PF

10.0

5.2

0.7

110.8

17%

65%

Khwan Fore

So

PG

9.9

3.7

2.5

110.7

18%

73%

Grant Golden

Fr

PF/C

5.8

4.0

0.5

99.6

18%

46%

De'Monte Buckingham

Fr

SG

5.7

2.3

1.0

101.7

18%

44%

Nick Sherod

Fr

SG

5.7

2.3

1.0

101.7

18%

44%

6. George Washington (10–8)

The Colonials fired coach Mike Lonergan in the middle of September over allegations of verbal and emotional abuse and replaced him with assistant Maurice Joseph in an interim role. Joseph will rely heavily on Tyler Cavanaugh, who was the leading scorer on last year’s NIT championship team, and Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

Tyler Cavanaugh

Sr

PF

16.7

7.7

1.3

113.8

25%

79%

Yuta Watanabe

Jr

SF

11.0

4.9

1.4

109.2

20%

72%

Matthew Hart

Sr

SG

10.6

3.2

1.2

114.5

18%

64%

Jaren Sina

Jr

PG

9.9

2.9

2.7

105.1

20%

75%

Patrick Steeves

Jr

SF

7.1

3.6

1.7

100.7

21%

49%

Kevin Marfo

Fr

PF

7.0

4.4

0.5

97.8

20%

51%

Jordan Roland

So

SG

6.6

2.5

1.1

95.2

18%

59%

jaylen-adams-st-bonaventure-a-10-preview.jpg

7. St. Bonaventure (9–9)

The Bonnies were one of the most high-profile NCAA tournament snubs in 2015–16, but it doesn’t look from the outset of this season that they’ll get revenge on the selection committee. Jaylen Adams, who was second in the A-10 in assists and eighth in points last year, is the unquestioned leader entering his junior season.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

Jaylen Adams

Jr

PG

17.6

3.7

5.2

121.8

23%

94%

Matt Mobley

Jr

SG

14.0

3.2

1.8

107.3

23%

75%

Denzel Gregg

Sr

SF

10.7

6.1

1.2

107.9

21%

68%

David Andoh

Sr

PF

8.9

5.1

0.6

99.3

23%

55%

Chinonso Obokoh

Sr

C

7.6

5.1

0.6

100.9

19%

56%

Idris Taqqee

Jr

SG

6.3

4.2

1.5

113.8

13%

68%

Courtney Stockard

Jr

SF

4.9

2.5

0.5

104.6

20%

32%

8. Saint Joseph’s (8–10)

Juniors James Demery and Shavar Newkirk were the top non-senior scorers last season, but they have big shoes to fill. Another A-10 tournament championship seems unlikely without NBA first-round pick DeAndre Bembry or 18-points-a-game forward Isaiah Miles. Phil Martelli is a patient and proven rebuilder, though, and the Hawks will be back sooner rather than later.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

James Demery

Jr

SF

14.1

6.1

1.2

106.6

21%

86%

Shavar Newkirk

Jr

PG

12.7

3.7

4.2

96.9

23%

89%

Lamarr Kimble

So

PG

11.9

3.2

4.2

105.1

22%

80%

Charles Brown Jr.

Fr

SF

6.9

3.6

0.8

95.8

20%

50%

Chris Clover

So

SG

6.1

2.4

1.1

99.2

19%

45%

Javon Baumann

Sr

PF

5.5

4.6

0.6

101.5

15%

52%

Lorenzo Edwards

Fr

PF

4.9

2.1

0.5

94.1

18%

40%

9. La Salle (8–10)

The leading returning scorer in the city of Philadelphia is Jordan Price, who averaged 19.2 points a game last season for the Explorers. He’s scored more than 1,000 points since transferring to La Salle after a season at Auburn, and we project him to improve on last season’s numbers and finish among the top five scorers nationally.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

Jordan Price

Sr

SG

19.6

5.2

2.9

102.8

30%

91%

Cleon Roberts

Sr

SF

12.8

4.0

1.5

107.0

19%

90%

Johnnie Shuler

Jr

PG

7.4

2.3

2.1

100.3

18%

65%

Tony Washington

Jr

PF/C

7.1

6.3

0.7

110.2

15%

62%

Demetrius Henry

Jr

FC

6.2

3.5

0.4

103.5

19%

43%

Yevgen Sakhniuk

Jr

SF/PF

5.8

2.6

0.8

102.9

22%

35%

Amar Stukes

Jr

PG

4.4

1.7

2.2

98.6

15%

56%

10. Massachusetts (8–10)

After a steady rise during Derek Kellogg’s first six seasons at the helm, culminating in an NCAA tournament appearance in 2014, the Minutemen have regressed. Although Donte Clark seems capable of bearing a heavy offensive load, he alone can’t carry UMass back to the Big Dance.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

Donte Clark

Jr

SG

17.5

4.3

2.6

106.9

26%

82%

DeJon Jarreau

Fr

PG

9.6

1.8

3.1

101.6

19%

72%

Rashaan Holloway

So

PF/C

9.3

5.3

0.5

98.5

25%

51%

Seth Berger

Jr

SF/PF

8.7

5.1

0.9

108.2

16%

67%

Zach Lewis

Jr

SG

8.6

2.4

1.3

100.9

22%

51%

LuWane Pipkins

Fr

PG

5.5

1.3

1.8

101.5

19%

42%

Zach Coleman

Jr

SF/PF

4.8

4.4

1.1

97.7

18%

47%

11. Fordham (7–11)

The Rams showed significant strides in Jeff Neubauer’s first year as head coach. Neubauer will reunite with 6' 5" wing JaVontae Hawkins, whom he acquired as a transfer at Eastern Kentucky before leaving for the Fordham job. Hawkins should continue to be a high-efficiency, high-volume shooter for the Rams, but our projections don’t think he’ll keep up his 17-points-a-game pace.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

Javontae Hawkins

Sr

SG

12.8

3.6

1.7

107.0

25%

66%

Christian Sengfelder

Jr

PF

11.8

6.0

1.1

115.0

18%

78%

Joseph Chartouny

So

PG

11.0

4.6

5.1

108.4

23%

77%

Antwoine Anderson

Jr

PG

7.9

2.0

2.5

101.8

22%

54%

David Pekarek

So

SF

6.9

2.9

0.8

96.9

19%

50%

Prokop Slanina

Jr

C

5.6

3.6

0.4

102.9

19%

40%

Will Tavares

Jr

SG

5.0

2.2

0.9

102.9

19%

35%

12. George Mason (6–12)

Dave Paulsen’s first year with the Patriots was technically an improvement, but an 11–21 (5–13) record is rarely considered comforting. Paulsen’s team will boast enviable depth in the backcourt, but size—only one player, Danny Dixon, in our projected top seven scorers is taller than 6' 8"—will be a significant challenge.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

Otis Livingston II

So

PG

12.3

2.9

3.4

105.4

21%

81%

Marquise Moore

Sr

PG

11.5

5.0

3.1

101.1

23%

75%

Jaire Grayer

So

SG

10.3

4.1

1.2

100.2

20%

69%

Jalen Jenkins

Sr

SF/PF

8.5

6.1

1.0

105.4

22%

56%

DeAndre Abram

So

SF

7.6

3.6

0.5

101.3

20%

51%

A.J. Wilson

Fr

SF

5.4

3.1

0.6

99.8

19%

40%

Danny Dixon

So

PF

4.5

4.6

0.8

100.3

15%

50%

13. Duquesne (5–13)

Although Blackman is likely to earn plenty of individual honors, he can’t replace the sheer amount of talent that coach Jim Ferry lost in the off-season. Gone are the top three scorers: guards Micah Mason and Derrick Colter and forward L.G. Gill (who transferred to Maryland). With so much roster turnover, the Dukes could struggle to address their area of biggest weakness: defense.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

Emile Blackman

Sr

SG

16.5

4.7

1.7

104.0

23%

88%

Kale Abrahamson

Sr

SF

12.3

5.2

1.1

105.8

21%

70%

Eric James

Jr

SF

12.2

5.8

1.6

106.6

22%

73%

Darius Lewis

Sr

C

7.5

5.6

0.7

103.5

19%

53%

Jordan Robinson

Jr

C

6.7

4.4

0.6

108.3

21%

41%

Tarin Smith

So

PG

6.6

2.6

1.9

99.4

16%

55%

Josh Steel

So

SG/PG

5.6

2.3

1.7

106.8

16%

45%

14. Saint Louis (5–13)

Travis Ford returns to the A-10, where he helmed UMass from 2006 to ’08. Our projections expect a big scoring leaps from senior guard Mike Crawford and sophomore guard Jermaine Bishop, but ultimately the pieces Ford will need to turn around the Billikens aren’t on the current roster.

Name

Class

Pos.

PPG

RPG

APG

ORtg

Volume

Mins

Mike Crawford

Sr

SG

15.2

4.1

1.7

105.8

21%

87%

Jermaine Bishop

So

PG

14.3

3.2

3.5

99.5

25%

79%

Davell Roby

Jr

SG

10.8

3.8

2.4

101.3

20%

75%

Reggie Agbeko

Sr

PF

8.7

7.2

0.4

102.5

17%

69%

Jalen Johnson

Fr

SF

6.8

3.5

0.8

98.9

19%

48%

Austin Gillmann

Jr

C

4.5

3.0

1.0

103.2

15%

43%

Zeke Moore

Fr

SF

4.2

2.2

0.5

96.2

19%

32%