Cleveland State 2021-22 Men’s Season Preview

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In just two short years, Cleveland State men’s basketball coach Dennis Gates and his staff have turned their program into the hunted, as opposed to the hunters. Cleveland State will look to defend their 2020/2021 conference tournament crown this season in one of the most stacked Horizon Leagues fans have seen in quite some time.

Despite the rumors of a high major school swooping in and stealing Gates, the CSU head man agreed to a contract extension that will have him with the Vikings through the 2027 season. According to athletic director Scott Garrett, conversations began with Gates regarding an extension after the team’s last second victory over Wright State a season ago. The Vikings’ attention to detail this season must be flawless, as the entire league will be gunning for the defending champions.

Newcomers

Nathanael Jack– Jack spent the last two seasons with the Florida State Seminoles after two successful campaigns at the junior college level. Dennis Gates is familiar with Jack’s game, as he spent time recruiting the former Seminole while he was at Florida State. Jack’s role for the Noles was small, as he averaged just over 3 points per game in almost 7 minutes per contest. Jack brings high major experience to Cleveland State in addition to familiarity with what Dennis Gates wants to accomplish on both ends of the floor.

Cole Middleton– Cleveland State’s lone incoming freshman this season was the 9th ranked player in the state of Georgia according to Max Preps. Middleton comes from one of the premier basketball schools in the state, Pace Academy and led the school to some of their best seasons to date. Middleton possesses the ability to control the painted area, as he averaged a double double in points and rebounds during his final high school season in addition to three blocks per contest. With Middleton being the lone true freshman on the roster, his minutes might be limited especially early in the season. However, if there is an injury at any point to one of the key contributors down low, Middleton could be thrown into the fire.

Anderson Mirambeaux– Mirambeaux comes from another top junior college basketball program, as he led Trinity Valley Community College to round of 16 in the national junior college men’s basketball tournament during his final season with the team. The first year Viking is a big bodied center who also possesses a silky smooth shot for a player of his size as he participated in the team’s three point shooting contest at Viketober. The junior could very well see himself with a significant reserve role as the Vikings if he is able to acclimate to the pace of the division one game.

Deshon Parker– The well traveled Parker returns to his home state for his final collegiate season. The Huber Heights, Ohio native spent time with both James Madison, and most recently Appalachian State where he played a role in the school’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2000. Despite Cleveland State’s crowded backcourt, Parker should see some minutes due to his experience and playmaking abilities. The newest Viking has already become indoctrinated into the team’s culture, as he has already proven to be a glue guy off the floor who is friendly with the entire roster. Parker’s comfort level with his teammates off the floor should translate to on floor production as well, as he should figure into Cleveland State’s guard rotation in some capacity from day one.

Broc Finsteun– CSU’s final newcomer is another well traveled player who will look to end his collegiate career on a high note with the Vikings. Finsteun spent the last two seasons at the University of Pacific, where he averaged 11.2 points per game in his final campaign with the Tigers. Like Parker, Finsteun comes to Cleveland State with a wealth of collegiate experience having played for both Pacific and Central Wyoming. Much like one of his newest teammates Torrey Patton, Finsteun is a guard who likes to hover around the painted area, despite being able to shoot the three point shot when called upon. While it is still unclear how Dennis Gates will utilize his small army of guards, Finsteun should provide the Vikings with tremendous depth in their backcourt.

Projected Lineup

Craig Beaudion– Cleveland State’s leader in assists and steals from a season ago return to run the show for the Vikings for one final year. Beaudion also significantly improved his three point shooting last year, upping his percentage by thirteen points from his junior to senior season. Cleveland State’s offensive balance starts with Beaudion’s ability to push the tempo and facilitate. While his minutes might take a small dip due to the Vikings’ absurd amount of depth, his role as one of the team leaders will remain.

D’Moi Hodge– Hodge showed flashes of brilliance last season, as his 46 point effort versus Purdue Fort Wayne was good enough for the second highest scoring output in a single game in program history. Hodge also showed the potential to be a terrific defensive player, as his 1.7 steals per contest was good enough for third in the entire league. He also showcased his athleticism and timing all of last year as a chase down block artist, something that should ignite the home crowd this season with fans being back in the stands. Hodge will be a fan favorite this season due to his prolific scoring and highlight making defensive abilities.

Tre Gomillion– The reigning defensive player of the year in the Horizon League prides himself on being the ultimate Swiss army knife type weapon for Dennis Gates. While the Agusta, Georgia native has the ability to slow down the oppositions best offensive player, he can also score for his team when they need him the most. The “big guard” had arguably his biggest game when Cleveland State needed it the most as he poured in 22 points in addition to grabbing 13 rebounds in the team’s thrilling victory over Purdue Fort Wayne in the conference tournament. Gomillion could very well be the heart the soul of Cleveland State’s team, as he provides the energy when it is needed the most.

Torrey Patton– Cleveland State also returns their leading scorer from last season in Torrey Patton. Patton was just the seventh Viking to ever earn first team all conference honors, which he did in 2020/2021. Patton averaged a career best 14.7 points and 8 rebounds per contest last season, good enough for first on the team in both statistics. The senior elevated his game during the later portion of the schedule, as he tallied over 22 points per game, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists per game during conference tournament play. Patton took on the role of the primary scorer last season, and with nearly everyone back from last year’s team, look for Patton to continue his aggressive nature early and often.

Deante Johnson– The man known as “Spider” was one of Cleveland State’s unsung heroes from a season ago, as he did a terrific job of manning the painted area both offensively and defensively. Johnson earned his nickname with his shot blocking prowess as he ranked third in the conference in blocked shots per game with 1.3. Johnson’s defensive performances led him to joining Tre Gomillion on the all conference defensive team in 2020/2021. Johnson should receive some much appreciated reinforcements down low if Algevon Eichelberger is able to stay healthy in addition to the incoming Anderson Mirambeaux.

Outlook

The most intriguing aspect of Cleveland State’s season will be how Dennis Gates handles the rotation. With all key contributors back from last year with the exception of Alec Oglesby in addition to some new capable faces, Gates will be tasked with finding minutes for all of his impact players. Cleveland State could very well implement some different looking lineups, especially early in the season, as Gates and his staff figure out what combinations work best.

Overall, the Vikings are positioned incredibly well to defend their Horizon League tournament crown. They are incredibly deep heading into this season, and once Dennis Gates finds the lineups that work best together, the sky is the limit for the 2021/2022 Cleveland State Vikings.

Miss anything from Preview Week? Check it all out below:

Predictions
Preseason All-League Teams Preseason Individual Awards
If we had an All-Newcomer Team…
Women’s Preseason PollWomen’s Preseason All-League Teams
How’d we do? #HLWBB Preseason Poll

Podcasts
Comparing notes with Justin Kinner

Team Previews
Cleveland State • Wright State • Milwaukee • Detroit Mercy
Northern KentuckyOaklandPurdue Fort WayneYoungstown State
UICRobert Morris • Green Bay • IUPUI
Green Bay (WBB)Cleveland State (WBB)

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