A number of talented newcomers look ready to burst onto the Postseason All-League teams this year
This morning, the HoriZone Roundtable Preseason All-Horizon League Teams were released. While we selected just two All-League teams, the additions of Purdue Fort Wayne and Robert Morris bring the Horizon League to 12 teams and could make the 2020 decision to add a third All-League team permanent.
If that’s the case, we clearly missed five players who will earn All-League honors. Even if it’s not the case, transfers are regularly overlooked when determining Preseason All-League teams. In either case, there are several players who clearly have the pedigree of previous All-League picks who failed to garner much interest for our 10-player list.
Here are several of the strongest candidates:
Teyvion Kirk – If there’s a player who seems to be a blatantly obvious candidate for this list, it’s Kirk. Not only has he already shown in his two years at Ohio that he’s capable of being a highly productive player, but UIC lost four starters to graduation and doesn’t have an established go-to-guy.
Kirk averaged 15.3 points per game as a freshman at Ohio, leading the team and earning himself a spot on the All-MAC Freshman Team. The 6-foot-4 guard finished his first year at Ohio second on the team in rebounds (6.1), assists (3.1), and steals (1.4) per game.
Kirk’s numbers dipped as a sophomore in part due to Jason Carter’s addition to the roster and in part due to shooting woes. Still, he was a productive enough player that it’s easy to see him translating into a star in the Horizon League. He was second on the team with 14.1 points and 2.5 assists per game, and third on the team with 5.5 rebounds per game. A big reason for the scoring dip was something that Kirk could potentially rectify easily: his free throw shooting dropped almost 15 percentage points. Given that Kirk frequently scores by attacking the basket and drawing contact, this meant a significant number of points were left on the court. Kirk’s 3-point shooting percentages also took a nosedive, from 40.0% as a freshman to 21.3% as a sophomore, but 3-point shooting wasn’t a huge part of his game and that amounted to 6 less made shots as a sophomore.
Kirk left Ohio for Colorado State following Saul Phillips’ firing, but transferred to UIC before ever playing a game for the Rams.
Even if Teyvion Kirk is unable to fix his shooting percentages from the free throw line and beyond the arc, his production in 2019 would likely put him on most voters’ short lists to be named one of the 15 best players in the Horizon League. Don’t be shocked to see him garner All-League honors this year.
Taurean Thompson – While he’s clearly a completely different player the Detroit Mercy big man’s pre-Horizon League resume compares favorably to Te’Jon Lucas and Sandy Cohen, a pair of former high-level recruits who had modest Power Conference production before transferring into the league and becoming stars.
The 6-foot-11 center was a consensus Top 100 recruit who committed to Syracuse out of high school. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game as a freshman, starting 21 of the 34 games he played for the Orange.
After a very promising freshman year, Thompson opted to transfer closer to home to play at Seton Hall. The experience didn’t go very well, as his production dropped across the board. He averaged just 4.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per game as a sophomore. Thompson played in just one game during his junior year after reports of tampering resulted in Seton Hall Head Coach Kevin Willard and former assistant Shaheen Holloway being suspended.
A major reason Thompson struggled to get more minutes at Seton Hall is that although his offensive skills were superb, he wasn’t a good defender. That resulted in him getting lost on the Pirates’ depth chart. Still, 4.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in less than 11 minutes per game indicate he could be a wildly productive player for the Titans.
Unlike playing at an NCAA Tournament-bound Big East school, Thompson isn’t going to get lost on the depth chart with Detroit Mercy. Returning forward Willy Isiani logged only 18 minutes per game for the Titans, and the only other post player currently eligible is Bul Kuol, who consistently battled injuries at Cal Baptist prior to joining the Titans as a graduate transfer.
Defensive struggles are also less likely to be an issue in the Horizon League. Outside of HoriZone Roundtable Preseason All-League picks Loudon Love, Al Eichelberger and AJ Bramah; the most proven post players are 6-foot-6 Naz Bohannon and 6-foot-7 Daniel Oladapo. Thompson’s size is something none of the other top post players in the league have, which should help him mitigate some of his defensive struggles.
While the road to get there has been a little rockier, don’t be surprised if Thompson’s final season lands him on the All-League team like a number of previous high-profile transfers.
Carlos Hines – While he didn’t come to college as a standout recruit, what Carlos Hines has done since beginning his NCAA career indicates he could be a standout for Northern Kentucky this year.
The 6-foot-4 guard was thrust into a point guard role at Northern Arizona and performed admirably. He was the NICKNAME assist leader with 4.0 assists per game. He posted a 1.38 assist-to-turnover ratio that’s pretty respectable for a player forced into the role. Hines was also able to up his production across the board and averaged 12.9 points 2.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game in 2019.
As is the case with Teyvion Kirk, much of the potential for Hines to become a Horizon League star comes from the fact that he’s a proven productive NCAA player who is coming to a team looking to replace a lot of production. Without Tyler Sharpe, Jalen Tate and Dantez Walton; Northern Kentucky will be looking for at least one or two players to step into starring roles this year. Hines and returning player Trevon Faulkner look like two of the best candidates to rise to the occasion.
D’Moi Hodge – Cleveland State Head Coach Dennis Gates landed a massive recruiting haul when he convinced the 6-foot-4 guard to follow him up from Florida to play for the Vikings this year.
Hodge averaged 25.2 points per game for the State College of Florida last year on his way to being named one of the best Junior College prospects in America. The Vikings won many games on the defensive side of the ball last year, so an incredibly gifted offensive player on the perimeter will be a welcome addition. Adding a volume scorer who can deliver from the perimeter seems likely to open things up for All-League forward Al Eichelberger in the paint.
If Hodge’s scoring abilities translate from the Junior College level to Division I, he’ll be a star in the league. In the process he’ll fill a significant need on Cleveland State’s roster, boost the team’s finish in the league standings and further his case for an All-League spot.
Jalen Moore – Oakland struggled in 2019 despite having arguably the best front court in the Horizon League. The struggles were likely in large part due to the team not having a true point guard all season, and Head Coach Greg Kampe worked hard to rectify that issue. Jalen Moore joins the Oakland roster after being named a Third Team Junior College All-American last year. Moore averaged 19.3 points and 7.4 assists per game at Olney Central College.
While his the 5-foot-10 guard undoubtedly had a number of potential suitors scared off by his 155 pound frame, but a lack of size obviously hasn’t been something that scared off Greg Kampe in the past. Most notably, 5-foot-9 Kay Felder was the Horizon League Player of the Year and an All-American after averaging 24.4 points and a NCAA Division I best 9.3 assists per game for the Golden Grizzlies in 2016.
Given how the team struggled without a true point guard even when it had a standout post presence like Xavier Hill-Mais, it seems likely that Oakland will try to play Moore as many minutes as possible. Moore’s demonstrated scoring ability combined with his talents as a floor general could allow him to post some gaudy statlines this year. If that helps Oakland get back into the top half of the league, don’t be surprised if some league recognition comes along with it.
Zion Young & Jordan Lathon – Young (Oakland via Western Illinois) and Lathon (Milwaukee via UTEP) currently have waivers for immediate eligibility pending and could be instant impact players for their teams, though at this time neither is definitively eligible for 2021. Given how the Rashad Williams saga played out last year, we’ll leave these two as a footnote for now.
Miss anything from Preview Week? Check it all out below: