College of Charleston Cougars (9-24 overall, 3-15 conference)
Projected starting five:
Jr. G Canyon Barry
So. G Cameron Johnson
Jr. G Payton Hulsey
So. F Donovan Gilmore
Sr. F James Bourne
G Anthony Stitt and F Adjehi Baru are starters who are gone from last season’s team. They will also be without G Joe Chealey, who will redshirt due to a leg injury sustained in practice.
52 percent of scoring and 47.7 percent of rebounding
Fr. F Jarrell Brantley
Sr. F James Bourne (transfer from Winthrop)
Jr. G Payton Hulsey (junior college transfer)
Fr. G Marquise Pointer
Fr. G Grant Riller
The non-conference schedule is a little more manageable than in past seasons, but still has some challenges. Six homes games are included, with Big South defending champion Coastal Carolina, LSU and East Carolina being the most noteworthy opponents. They go on the road to play Davidson and Miami. CAA play has a tough start with three of the first four games on the road, though they later have a stretch with five of six at home.
Projected finish and outlook:
Last year was a tough transition year as Earl Grant took over in September. They won a game in the CAA Tournament, so they finished well. Now, they have a group with new players all over the floor, and Grant has indicated there will be plenty of competition for minutes and roles. That should only intensify with Chealey lost for the season due to injury, which likely means either Hulsey or Pointer gets the nod; don’t be surprised if it’s Pointer as he can play and was well-tested in high school. Gilmore showed some promise last season, while O’Donhue had 14 rebounds in their CAA Tournament win and Bourne should boost them right away as their most experienced player up front. Brantley should get every opportunity to play as well. Barry is the one guy this team can definitely hang their hat on, and Johnson should start alongside him again. The Cougars were one of the best defensive teams in the conference last season, and they’ll need to repeat that this season since they lost three of their top four scorers from last season if you include Chealey. They should be competitive, but are probably a year away from contending, especially since Chealey’s absence will mean younger players get more of an opportunity to grow now than they would have otherwise.