Last season during conference games, Southern Utah was ninth in the Big Sky in offensive efficiency, scoring 0.99 points per possession. Among the culprits - they shot a league low 42.7% on two point shot attempts, and had a 20.0 TO Rate, worst in the conference. Essentially, they could grab offensive rebounds, but arguably because they had so much experience at trying to rebound missed shots!
To make bad news worse for head coach Nick Robinson, gone are the Thunderbirds top four scorers, most notably Jackson Stevenett (17.6 PPG) and Damon Heuir (15.5 PPG).
Obviously, this is all leading up to the big question - where does Southern Utah get their scoring from? Here are a few of the most likely ones to provide the scoring punch:
- AJ Hess - The 6'6'' wing man got better as his freshman year went along, finishing with an average of 5.8 PPG, but scoring 24 points against Eastern Washington, 15 points against Montana, and 16 points against North Dakota, all within the final seven games of the year. Clearly, he got more comfortable as the year went along, and took on the role of third fiddle in the offense after Wade Collie was dismissed. He has a solid outside shot (33%), and is great from the line. The development of Hess is probably the TBirds best bet to have a true number one option this season.
- Chris Nsenki - Nsenki only averaged 2.3 PPG last season, but there weren't always a ton of minutes to be had behind Heuir. He scored eight points in 31 minutes in the Big Sky tournament loss to UND, so he could have a bigger role waiting for him. He shot 30.5% from downtown on 59 attempts last season.
- Jayson Cheesman - He is known primarily for his defense and rebounding (where he is one of the best in the conference), but he is the team's leading returning scorer, at 6.8 PPG. He wasn't efficient at all, shooting just 40%, but got buckets with his offensive rebounding ability. He needs to be more selective this season. He doesn't really have much in the way of post moves, but that is not his game.
- Juwan Major - He comes in from Las Vegas High, where he led that team with over 14 PPG. He is a lefty with a good first step and the ability to score off the dribble. With the TBirds looking for a spark, Major could provide one as a freshman, as his ceiling is arguably higher than almost everyone else on the roster.
- Trey Kennedy - He is a guy that I really like. While scoring isn't even necessarily his calling card (last year, he averaged 12.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 4.7 APG for Bishop Gorman), he has a lot of ability and versatility. He has experience playing a variety of roles (as a junior he came off the bench, as all of the starters were top 150 recruits), and has shown an ability to help his team in whatever way needed. Scoring will be needed this season, and Kennedy could provide it.
- Race Parsons - Another freshman, Parsons averaged over 27 PPG for his high school while getting some interest from Weber State and Utah State. He is a 6'4'' guard with a knack for scoring. In Utah high school basketball history, he is sixth in scoring, sixth in rebounding, and fourth in three-pointers made for his career. Not a bad pedigree.
Who else do you think will be in the mix to score for Southern Utah?
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