This year, there might be more firepower than ever
For the second year in a row, I’m picking players who could make up an All-Newcomer team if the Horizon League still had one. My picks last year were a mixed bag. Jalen Moore was the obvious standout; he led the nation in assists on his way to being a First Team All-League pick and unanimous selection to the HoriZone Roundtable All-League team. Teyvion Kirk earned a spot on our All-League team as well, while D’Moi Hodge put up a good enough season that we’ve got All-League expectations for him in year two. Despite prior Division I success, Taurean Thompson and Carlos Hines didn’t pan out in the league. On the flipside, Marques Warrick proved me wrong and earned All-League honors as a freshman, Bul Kuol stayed healthy and had a massive breakout season as a fifth year senior, and DeAndre Gholston went from being the third leading scorer on a stacked Junior College team to an All-League caliber player for Milwaukee.
On paper this year’s top contenders look even stronger than last year’s, which nearly produced an entire lineup of All-League picks. The league’s highest rated high school commitment of all time is joined by two 2021 All-NEC picks and three Power Conference transfers who have averaged double-digit scoring in the past. Without even considering Junior College recruits and under-the-radar freshmen poised to be this year’s Amari Davis or Marques Warrick, there are more potential All-League newcomers than there are spots in the lineup. After two years of writing articles about the lack of newcomers on All-League teams our voters finally came through and put a pair of the players listed below on our All-League team, and I still have to wonder if we’ve missed some obvious candidates.
Here’s a look at who would be the early season favorites for an All-Newcomer team if it still existed:
Patrick Baldwin Jr., F, Milwaukee – Patrick Baldwin Jr. comes to the Horizon League as a consensus Top 10 recruit nationally even after suffering a season-ending injury in his senior year of high school. He is by far the highest rated high school recruit to commit to a Horizon League school, and is currently projected to be a Top 20 selection in the 2022 NBA Draft. If he lives up to the hype he could be a Gordon Hayward-caliber player in the league, albeit without the same caliber supporting cast. He single-handedly changes the projected trajectory of last year’s 8-seed Milwaukee into a league title contender, and he should be considered a strong candidate for Horizon League Player of the Year without ever playing a game of college basketball. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we selected him to be a Preseason First Team All-Horizon League pick. Even though there technically wasn’t a vote on this imaginary award, we’ll call Baldwin Jr. our projected Newcomer of the Year.
Jamal Cain, F, Oakland – Cain comes to the Horizon League as a transfer from Marquette, a school that has already produced a transfer who became a Horizon League star in Green Bay’s Sandy Cohen. Cain has the potential to be a similarly high-impact player despite having just the offseason to learn OU’s system. In his final full season at Marquette, the sophomore Cohen averaged 5.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game; Cain averaged 9.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game with the Golden Eagles last year. The 6-foot-8 forward has hit 37.7 percent of his 3-point shots over four years at Marquette while taking nearly half of his attempts from beyond the arc. All signs point to Cain being an instant high-impact player, and if Cohen’s experience is any indication a potential Horizon League star.
Damian Chong Qui, G, Purdue Fort Wayne – Chong Qui joins Baldwin Jr. as a HoriZone Roundtable Preseason All-Horizon League pick before ever playing a game for a league school, and he’s there for good reason. The 5-foot-8 guard was First Team All-NEC at Mount Saint Mary’s last year and led the team with 15.1 points and 5.3 assists per game. He helped the Mountaineers to an NEC Tournament title and led the team with 14 points in an opening round NCAA Tournament loss to Texas Southern. Recent players to earn All-Conference honors the year before coming to the Horizon League like Jarred Godfrey and A.J. Bramah have gone on to be stars here. Despite the transfer making for slightly different circumstances, don’t expect Chong Qui to be an exception.
Rasheem Dunn, G, Robert Morris – . Dunn’s path to Robert Morris has been an interesting one. He started his career with RMU’s then-Northeast Conference rival St. Francis Brooklyn, where he was named to the 2017 NEC All-Rookie Team and 2018 Second Team All-NEC. He then transferred to the Horizon League to play at Cleveland State, but left without playing a game following Dennis Felton’s firing. He spent the last two seasons at St. John’s, where he averaged 10.8 points and 3.7 assists while starting 32 of the 51 games he played in. A potential thorn in the side of Dunn’s All-League candidacy is a third former NEC star to take home hardware before coming to the Horizon League. Michael Green III announced his transfer to RMU this offseason. Green averaged 16 points, 3.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds to earn Third Team All-NEC honors in his sophomore year at Bryant. He could be an excellent candidate for this list, except for the fact that RMU might struggle to finish in the top half of the league. Dunn and Green may end up in a similar situation as Te’Jon Lucas and DeAndre Gholston did at Milwaukee last year, where both were very good individually but the team success didn’t support two All-League players.
D.J. Harvey, F, Detroit Mercy – Harvey joins Detroit Mercy after spending last season at Vanderbilt. He averaged 6.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game at the SEC school, which would make him a good candidate in its own right. What’s more intriguing for Titan fans are the 10.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game he averaged as a sophomore at Notre Dame before transferring to Vandy. On paper, Harvey should fit in well in the role Bul Kuol had last year as a second scoring option behind Antoine Davis. If he can get back to the type of player he looked like he was on his way to being as a sophomore, he could be in for a special season. But even if he doesn’t, he should enter this year at Detroit Mercy on the All-League watchlist.
Miss anything from Preview Week? Check it all out below:
Cleveland State • Wright State • Milwaukee • Detroit Mercy
Northern Kentucky • Oakland • Purdue Fort Wayne • Youngstown State
UIC • Robert Morris • Green Bay • IUPUI
Green Bay (WBB) • Cleveland State (WBB)