BROOKLYN, N.Y. — As is the usual exercise, the Atlantic 10 released its annual preseason poll and all-conference honors at its media day Thursday at the Barclays Center.
Duquesne was picked to finish eighth amassing 196 total points among a panel of 28 voters which included each team’s coach and a media member who covers each program.
VCU was selected first in the conference earning 19 of 28 first-place votes for a total of 381 points. Davidson placed second earning eight first-place votes and 359 points and Dayton earned the other first place votes, placing third in the poll at 341 points.
Below is the entire poll.
1. VCU (18) 381 pts
2. Davidson (8) 359 pts
3. Dayton (1) 341 pts
4. Rhode Island 283 pts
5. St. Bonaventure 280 pts
6. Richmond 248 pts
7. Saint Louis 225 pts
8. Duquesne 196 pts
9. George Mason 185 pts
10. La Salle 133 pts
11. Massachusetts 103 pts
12. George Washington 93 pts
13. Saint Joseph’s 65 pts
14. Fordham 48 pts
Additionally, sophomore guard Sincere Carry was the lone Duquesne player to earn preseason all-conference recognition, making the third team. Carry averaged 12.1 points and 5.8 assists-per game last season as a freshman.
For this year’s all-conference teams, a total of 18 players were selected, six per team, all of which can be found below in addition to the all-defensive team, which was limited to the traditional five players.
Preseason All-Conference First Team
Kellan Grady, Davidson
Jon Axel Gudmundsson, Davidson
Jacob Gilyard, Richmond
Cyril Langevine, Rhode Island
Marcus Evans, VCU
Obi Toppin, Dayton
Preseason All-Conference Second Team
Grant Golden, Richmond
Jeff Dowtin, Rhode Island
Hasahn French, Saint Louis
Kyle Lofton, St. Bonaventure
Justin Kier, George Mason
Jalen Crutcher, Dayton
All-Conference Third Team
Jordan Goodwin, Saint Louis
Osun Osunniyi, St. Bonaventure
Marcus Santos-Silva, VCU
De’Riante Jenkins, VCU
Sincere Carry, Duquesne
Fatts Russell, Rhode Island
Preseason All-Defensive Team
Cyril Langevine, Rhode Island
Jacob Gilyard, Richmond
Osun Osunniyi ,St. Bonaventure
Hasahn French, Saint Louis
Marcus Evans, VCU
This year, PSN’s Zachary Weiss was the media representative for Duquesne and thus got to vote. For transparency, the all-conference selections were done in the order submitted to the conference. At the time there was not a clear understanding that the conference was going to go with six players per all-conference teams, so in similar fashion to the A-10 honors, each group of six will represent a team.
The all-defensive team had a shortlist ballot provided by the conference of the most dominant players on that end of the court.
As a sidebar, this poll was conducted before voters were aware of George Mason’s Justin Kier being injured and potentially missing games and Ian Boyd being lost for the season.
Once again, the ballot below is true to the one submitted to the conference and also will include brief explanations.
ZAC’S PRESEASON POLL
Davidson– Davidson just seems to be in a good place and now with added depth are ready to play faster and score more. Davidson was one of the younger teams in the country last season but now more mature, can take more chances to open things up on both ends of the court. Jon Axel Gudmundsson was the conference’s player of the year last season and has quite the all-around game which may need more deep shots to fall. Kellan Grady battled the injury bug last season as he tore his meniscus. His explosiveness is back which is bad news for everyone else. Luke Frampton may be one of the more underrated players in the conference and now with the knee brace gone is ready to attack. Luke Brajkovic did not play like a freshman last season and he will only be more of a physical presence. Sophomore Mike Jones averaged 32 points-per-game in high school and after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL last season is ready to go. Carter Collins is a glue player and Hyunjung Lee is a new piece who averaged 26 points-per-game in the FIBA U18 Asian Championships. Of course Bob McKillop is back for his 31st season and his presence alone is enough to earn the respect of any program in the country. If you are going to battle someone in this conference, you want McKillop in your fox hole.
VCU– Last season coach Mike Rhoades challenged his team to be better defensively, it was a focal point in offseason and preseason practices and it worked to perfection. VCU was the conference’s stingiest defense. VCU’s challenge now will be to improve its three-point shooting, an issue which affected the team throughout the season, Seven of the team’s top eight return, with Sean Mobley transferring to UCF. Marcus Evans is the player who steps off the page as he was a first-team all-conference selection. His injury in A-10’s negatively impacted the team but now with more options around him, there is some added excitement. De’Riante Jenkins, Issac Vann and Marcus Santos-Silva all are amont those options. Among newcomers, Nah’Shon Hyland could excite right away and potentially solves the three-point bugaboo.
Dayton– By no means is this a put down of Dayton, really the difference is splitting hairs but the other two teams are collectively more experienced and even with the Flyers having exciting transfers in Rodney Chatman, Jordy Tshimanga and Ibi Watson, the three line just seemed right. Obi Toppin is most likely to make the NBA draft and is a matchup nightmare that will only improve. Ryan Mikesell is a steady presence on this team, capable of making a shot when adversity strikes. Jalen Crutcher is a consistently good decision maker and it will be interesting to see how Jhery Matos returns from injury. How Anthony Grant manages all of this will be interesting to see and he appeared more comfortable on the sideline last season, though now the expectations are higher.
Rhode Island– Rhode Island took a small step backwards last season as David Cox moved over one seat to the head coaching chair, but do not count out the man who put together scouting reports for two Rams teams which made the NCAA Tournament. Jeff Dowtin, Cyril Langvine and Fatts Russell all suffer from Perry Ellis Syndrome in that each has played in so many big games that none are fazed by the moment. Langevine is a force that is difficult to stop. He is a double-double machine and his only glaring hole is consistently making free throws. Dowtin just does not make mistakes and at the end of the game, the ball tends to find his hands. Russell took a step back last season but is expected to be more clinical on his three-point shots and when his game picked up, so did Rhode Island’s season. A stronger start is necessary. Outside of the core are players who will be given more opportunities, players such as Dana Tata and junior college transfers Jeremy Sheppard and Devale Johnson.
St. Bonaventure– At this point anyone who does not believe in Mark Schmidt’s ability to take what he is given and build a winner, does not understand A-10 basketball. The Bonnies were expected to rebuild, but instead went 12-6 in conference play and came a play or two short against Saint Louis in last season’s A-10 Championship final. Kyle Lofton and Dominick Welch will both see jumps in all aspects after posting impressive freshman campaigns and Osun Osunniyi is fun to watch as he scores, rebounds and recorded 92 blocks as a freshman. Jaren English also is a name to keep an eye one. If this team stays healthy, it will be a tough out in March.
Duquesne– Duquesne falls in the six slot, the position it tied for in the standings last season. Duquesne has already made significant strides under Keith Dambrot and now has the opportunity to achieve several goals. With Frankie Hughes out for the season that will only mean players such as Maceo Austin, Tavian Dunn-Martin, Lamar Norman Jr and perhaps an Ashton Miller or Evan Buckley see the court. That does not even include a now-healthy Sincere Carry. Duquesne will need Mike Hughes to stay healthy, Marcus Weathers to produce in a similar role to last season and for Baylee Steele to be the imposing post Duquesne expects him to be. When Amari Kelly and Austin Rotroff return and with the added benefit of James Ellis who is still learning after a redshirt year, this Duquesne team is deep. It will be interesting to see how Duquesne finds combinations that work and adjusts to calling several different sites home this season, while creating its own noise.
Richmond– There appears to be a great divide with Richmond this season in terms of where it will wind up. Nick Sherod returning from injury is important for them, Grant Golden does not get enough attention for how he can impact a game and Jacob Gilyard is dangerous on both sides of the ball. Blake Francis is a transfer from Wagner and will held the Spiders in three-point shooting. Still two questions put them a bit lower on this list. First, how will the non-conference slate go? This team has floundered in that category in recent campaigns and that can transfer into January and beyond. Secondly, can a defense which was non-existent last season improve? The offense is certainly there, no doubting that but that is the case with most of the teams in this conference. If the defense takes a VCU style jump from a season ago, this is a top-four team no questions asked.
Saint Louis– The Atlantic 10 tournament champion, these Billikens return three players who played meaningful minutes in Jordan Goodwin, Hasahn French and Fred Thatch Jr. This is a young team which is different from most of the teams closer to the top of this list, meaning it hard to gauge expectations, thus a potential reason for placing SLU on the eight line. Tay Weaver is a name to keep an eye on as a transfer from Eastern Kentucky and it will be interesting to see how Javonte Perkins’s production transfers over from a Southwestern Illinois College stint in which he was its all-time leading scorer.
George Mason– Again this was before Boyd and Kier’s injuries, but George Mason still will be a tough out and Kier should be back by December and at 100% by the time conference play roles around. George Mason is now forced to be more of a balanced team, a reality it faced when Otis Livingston II graduated. Javon Greene and Jordan Miller will see increases in roles and though he disappointed prior to injury last season, Goanar Mar can defend and should increase offensive production.
La Salle– You have to respect La Salle’s resiliency, starting the season with an 0-10 record. Yes the overall record was a disappointment but this is a team which has learned some lessons. Isiah Dea will be a key piece, but coach Ashley Howard is now looking for more of an all-around game and much of the same can be said about Saul Phiri. Scott Spencer transferred in from Clemson and will contribute. Jared Kimbrough has that ability and both he and Ed Croswell will be expected have big rebounding presences.
Massachusetts– UMass is close to putting it all together and took quite a few hits. Gone is Luwane Pipkins and coach Matt McCall has been working on team culture, something which did not appear to be present in spots last seasonb. Carl Pierre will be a key returning piece and the clear leader on this team. Freshman Tre Mitchell is expected to excite this season and in many circles is considered the early favorite for Rookie of the Year.
George Washington– It was really tempting to put GW up higher on this list just because Jamion Christian is known for coming in and making an immediate impact. He did it at Mount St. Mary’s and accomplished this again last season at Siena. Junior Maceo Jack is expected to make an impact and junior Justin Mazzulla will be counted on to provide a leadership role. Arnaldo Toro has the potential to be an all-conference player in Christian’s system and defenses will be in for a physical test as GW will be the tallest team in the conference.
Saint Joseph’s– Aside from the absolute mess of cutting ties with Phil Martelli, this Saint Joseph’s team has to hit a reset button and opted to hire Billy Lange, previously an assist with the Philadelphia 76ers. With a new hire, several impact players transferred and the rush was on to fill roster spots. As is the case with GW, first-year coaches often times take hits in the first year and this is the expectation for the 2019-20 campaign. Taylor Funk has made a jump this offseason, Anthony Longpre has made strides in his fitness, while Ryan Daly has consistently been mentioned as a transfer who can make an immediate impact.
Fordham– After posing a winning season in year one, coach Jeff Neubauer has not been able to replicate the feat since. Fordham has consistently had an issue with top players in its program transferring and this offseason was no different with Nick Honor transferring to Clemson. There also was a report that Neubauer was fired immediately after Fordham fell in A-10’s. Freshman Joel Soriano is someone to keep an eye on and sophomore Onyi Eyisi had a positive conclusion to last season and is the top returner.
ZAC’S ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
Jon Axel Gudmundsson Davidson– JAG is the most complete player in the conference and does this on a consistent basis. Even if one aspect of his game is not up to par, there are plenty of other ways he can impact a game. He also shot 82.6% from the foul line last season.
Obi Toppin Dayton– He will make his presence felt on a nightly basis. He will make it difficult for opposing coaches to sleep at night. If there is one critique I want to see more than highlight dunks, but he has plenty of game, so that will not be much of an issue. Toppin also is a physical presence where he is able to rebound misses. If Toppin opts to go pro after the season, his name will be called on draft night.
Kellan Grady Davidson– There may not be a more pure shooter in the A-10. Grady is 100% healed from an injury which sidelined him for part of last season’s non-conference slate. Grady is a leader and is in the best shape of his life. He must be marked anytime he is on the court.
Cyril Langevine Rhode Island– Langevine is the class of A-10 posts. He showed so much improvement last season where he was depended on as the primary paint option. His effort should be recognized at this level on the ballot.
Marcus Evans VCU– VCU needs to have a performer high on this list and why not the player who was a first team all-conference selection last year? Now that he actually had a full offseason, the expectation is there for an even better season.
Jacob Gilyard Richmond– Personally I am very high on Gilyard. He is an absolute menace defensively and cannot be counted out in any sequence. However Richmond does this season may be because of Gilyard’s influence.
Jeff Dowtin Rhode Island– Dowtin has been the leader of this Rhode Island team. It is unfair that he did not receive any all-conference nod after the regular season and Rhode Island’s placement in the standings certainly played a role. Dowtin refuses to turn the ball over and his defense is expected to take a jump as he likely will mark a team’s top guard.
Justin Kier George Mason– It seems as though outsiders finally gave Kier the credit he deserved naming him the conference’s most improved player last season and now with Otis Livingston II’s graduation, there is nowhere to hide. This is his team now. Though he does have an injury, he will be back and look to involve teammates more while minimizing his mistakes.
Hasahn French Saint Louis– French gets it done with his shot-blocking ability and never-say-die attitude on the offensive end where he will work until the ball goes into the basket. He needs to take a Langevine jump where he is counted on as a double-double machine.
Grant Golden Richmond– He has the ability to do it all offensively and was Richmond’s most prolific scorer a year ago. Nitpicking, his 82 turnovers were high for the post position and those need to cut. He plays with a tireless work ethic that his teammates will have to model.
Jalen Crutcher Dayton– Though Dayton fans prefer to call him “Jalen Clutcher”, this moniker holds true as Crutcher is the steady point guard this team needs. His third-team recognition was well deserved last season and teammates voted him as MVP. He was second in the conference in assists.
Osun Osunniyi St. Bonaventure– It would not be a surprise if this gentleman makes a SportsCenter Top 10 play for a block. He led NCAA D-I freshmen with 92 blocks, a figure which ranked sixth nationally and this again is a walking double-double machine that will score the ball more to match his tenacious defense.
Sincere Carry Duquesne-Carry is deserving of being on this list. He prefers to involve his teammates but Carry made several key shots en route to an all-rookie nod. Carry also was a consistently solid defender showing the ability to guard top guards across the nation while also stealing the ball on numerous occasions. That he did all of this while being injured and routinely less than 100% is quite admirable.
Marcus Santos-Silva VCU– This was a last-minute bump up for a player who was key on the offensive boards ranking sixth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage which extended possessions. He was on a minutes count last season but there should be less of that now. He is expected to take that next step if VCU is the top 25 team the AP Poll says it is. Santos-Silva was actually placed further towards the bottom of this list but a literal last-minute change bumped him here, and on my third team.
Kyle Lofton St. Bonaventure– An all-rookie and all-tournament selection, Lofton is similar to Carry in that he is a pass-first point guard. It was clear that the Bonnies had faith in him which is not always the case with freshmen, a fact which was proven with him earning a captain’s role as a freshman. The best is yet to come.
Nick Sherod Richmond– It would be easy to argue that this placement is unfair for a player who was injured, but it is easier to err on the side of caution and he makes my third team though other voters will likely disagree. Richmond has plenty of offensive weapons and Sherod is a very capable scorer who won his team games two years ago. It will be interesting to see how he produces after a knee injury ended his season almost before it started. If he produces as he did two years ago, Sherod will not be passed over for all-conference recognition.
De’Riante Jenkins VCU– Jenkins was a third-team selection at the end of last season and his athleticism certainly helped that case, but for me I wanted to see more in key contests as he has plenty of promise and should improve in his final season. Still he has the ability to make the three and has a high-percentage of midrange shots go in.
Fatts Russell Rhode Island– There were other players who could have been placed in this spot, but Russell was a key reason why Rhody became the team everyone expected at season’s end. It would be unwise to bet against him and a better start to the season should be in order.
ZAC’S ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM
Osun Osunniyi St. Bonaventure
Jacob Gilyard Richmond
Cyril Langevine Rhode Island
Hasahn French Saint Louis
Sincere Carry Duquesne