2017-18 MAAC Preseason Predictions

This evening the MAAC will announce its preseason all-league teams and rankings. In advance of that announcement, here is the official NYC Buckets prediction and analysis for team rankings and all-league squads. All selections are provided in alphabetical order:

Team Rankings

1. Iona

2. Manhattan

3. Niagara

4. Monmouth

5. Fairfield

6. Rider

7. Canisius

8. Siena

9. Saint Peter’s

10. Quinnipiac

11. Marist

 

First Team

Nico Clareth (Jr., Siena)

Rickey McGill (Jr., Iona)

Tyler Nelson (Sr., Fairfield) – Player of the Year

Micah Seaborn (Jr., Monmouth)

Rich Williams (RSr., Manhattan

Fairfield’s Tyler Nelson is the frontrunner for league Player of the Year honors

Two members of last year’s First Team are easy picks to repeat that honor. Tyler Nelson and Micah Seaborn project to be two of the league’s highest scorers and should easily lead their respective squads in points per game.

Nelson ranked second in the league behind only Seaborn’s teammate Justin Robinson with 19.5 ppg last season. With the transfer of Fairfield’s second and third options Curtis Cobb (12.1) and Jerry Johnson Jr. (11.4), Nelson will be relied upon more than ever to put the ball through the basket.

Seaborn earned his way onto last year’s First Team as a sophomore by helping Monmouth become the first MAAC squad to win 18 conference games in a single season. At 13.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game in 2016-17, Seaborn’s versatility was on full display. With the graduation of last year’s accomplished senior class, the Texas native will assume a leadership role, and Monmouth’s success will largely hinge on that of Seaborn.

Rich Williams would have been in the Player of the Year conversation last season, if not for a preseason knee injury which held him out for much of the year until he opted for a redshirt. As a junior in 2015-16, Williams ranked second on the Jaspers with 14.8 points per game and tied for the team lead in rebound with 6.0 per contest. The versatile wing also added 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Now reportedly back to full strength, Williams will seek to lead Manhattan from worst to first in 2018.

“He got back on the court practicing in late January where he was 100% and was our best player,” Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said of Williams this offseason. “Our practices were really good.”

Iona point guard Rickey McGill enjoyed a breakout sophomore season in 2016-17 and should further build on that success this year. The Spring Valley, NY native filled the stat sheet with 10.5 points, 5.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game last year. His assist total ranked second in the league behind only Rider’s Stevie Jordan (5.6). McGill will be a triple-double threat on any given night, and should pile up the assists thanks to the Gaels’ abundance of backcourt threats.

Siena guard Nico Clareth is one of the most electric players not just in the MAAC, but in all of college basketball. The Baltimore native enters the 2017-18 season as the Saints’ newly-named co-captain and the chief offensive option after the graduation of 1,000-point scorers Marquis Wright, Javion Ogunyemi, Brett Bisping, and Lavon Long. Clareth averaged 13.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.1 steals last season while acting as a stalwart defender. Set for a heavy increase in playing time and shot opportunities, Clareth should have plenty of chances to showcase his talent for fans around the country.

Second Team

Schadrac Casimir (RJr., Iona)

Jermaine Crumpton (RSr., Canisius)

Stevie Jordan (So., Rider)

Matt Scott (Sr., Niagara)

Zane Waterman (Sr., Manhattan)

If truly back to full strength, Schadrac Casimir is one of the MAAC’s most dynamic scorers

Iona guard Schadrac Casimir is one of the MAAC’s greatest scoring talents, but the redshirt junior’s path to stardom has been hindered by a swell of injuries. Casimir averaged 14.5 ppg during his freshman season in 2014-15 en route to league Rookie of the Year honors, but his sophomore season was cut short due to torn labrums in both hips. Three surgeries later, Casimir returned to the court to average 7.0 ppg last season. Now confident he has fully recovered from those surgeries, head coach Tim Cluess expects to see the best out of Casimir in 2017-18.

“He looks like he’s back to the way he was as a freshman,” Cluess said of Casimir. “He wasn’t healthy at all last year.”

Jermaine Crumpton was just 0.2 points off the Golden Griffins’ team lead for scoring last season, but his 15.9 ppg were good for ninth in the league. Now the sole remaining member of Canisius’ top four scorers last season, Crumpton should be the primary beneficiary of an offense that ranked among the best in the country at sharing the ball last season (17.7 apg, good for sixth in Division I).

Speaking of sharing the ball, no individual player did that better last season than Rider rookie Stevie Jordan, who led the league and ranked 24th in all of Division I with 5.6 apg to go along with his 11.7 points per contest. With a wave of turnover in Lawrenceville, Jordan will have to acclimate to new teammates around him, but should be able to build on a successful freshman campaign.

Niagara’s Matt Scott has been named to the All-MAAC Third Team each of the last two seasons, and remains one of the league’s best players as the Purple Eagles seek to take a leap into the MAAC’s top tier this season. Scott led the team in both scoring and rebounding with 17.0 points and 7.0 rebounds to go along with 3.0 assists and 1.4 steals a season ago. With First-Team potential, Scott is sure to be the catalyst for Niagara’s expected resurgence this season.

Zane Waterman earned his way onto last year’s All-MAAC Third Team despite playing for the league’s last-place team by exuding grit day in and day out. The junior averaged 14.5 points along with 7.0 rebounds, and connected on 48.2% of his shots. Thanks to an influx of talent, Waterman won’t have to be relied upon at the center position during his senior season, but should remain one of the league’s more effective frontcourt players.

Third Team

Kahlil Dukes (RSr., Niagara)

Chaise Daniels (Sr., Quinnipiac)

Brian Parker (Jr., Marist)

Dominic Robb (Jr., Niagara)

Zach Lewis (RSr., Iona)

Kahlil Dukes was effective in his first year at point for the Purple Eagles and should be a large part of their success this season

A pair of Purple Eagles check in on the Third Team in the form of point guard Kahlil Dukes and forward Dominic Robb. Dukes, a transfer from USC, took right to the facilitator role for Niagara last season, and should improve even further with a year in the MAAC under his belt. Dukes never averaged more than 7.2 minutes per game or 2.7 ppg with the Trojans, but lit up the scene with 15.5 points and 4.1 assists in 33.7 minutes of play last season.

Meanwhile, Robb should be set to take a major step forward entering his junior season. The Pittsburgh native averaged 8.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game a year ago, and that was while working against a talented frontcourt pool that included the likes of Jordan Washington, Quadir Welton, and Chris Brady among others. With most of those big bodies now gone, Robb should be able to take advantage, dominate the paint this year, and be in the mix for Defensive Player of the Year.

Quinnipiac forward Chaise Daniels is the Bobcats’ key holdover from the Tom Moore era, and should give new coach Baker Dunleavy a reliable option during his first season. Entering his senior year, Daniels will look to build on his line of 13.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game from a season ago. Daniels projects to be one of the league’s premier post players, and should be a major factor in any wins the Bobcats put together this season.

Marist’s Brian Parker will be leaned on heavily to make up for the loss of Khallid Hart. Parker ranked second to Hart in scoring with 12.9 ppg last season, but led the Red Foxes in both rebounds (5.9) and assists (3.1). Perhaps the most vital part of the rebuilding project in Poughkeepsie, Parker has All-League talent, but will need a boost from the rest of the roster to lead Marist to wins.

The MAAC Third Team is a familiar place for Iona transfer Zach Lewis. The Connecticut native found himself on the squad following his sophomore season at MAAC rival Canisius in 2015. Lewis averaged 12.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists that year, and as a member of what projects to be a volatile Gaels backcourt, has every chance to make his way back there again.

Vincent Simone covers the MAAC, Hofstra, and more for NYC Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.

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