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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

October 2nd, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Missouri State Bears


Overall Rank: #37

Conference Rank: #3 MVC


2005-06: 22-9, 12-6, 2nd

2005-06 postseason: NIT


Nobody can feel more snubbed by the NCAA Selection Committee than Missouri State and Coach Barry Hinson.  After a 20 win season and a 21 RPI, the Bears were stuck in the NIT.  With five players returning who averaged at least seven points per game, Missouri State hopes to leave no question about their resume this year.


Who’s Out: Deke Thompson averaged 9.6 points and 2.7 assists during his senior campaign.  The point guard was a steady floor leader and his team leadership role will have to be replaced quickly.  Kellen Easley earned the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year accolades last year, averaging 9.0 points and 5.6 boards during his last season in Springfield.


Who’s In: Spencer Laurie will take over the point guard duties.  Normally running the show is a tough transition, but it won’t be a problem for the Missouri transfer.  Laurie is a good shooter and distributor and is expected to handle the job with ease.  If there are problems, redshirt freshman Justin Fuehrmeyer could see some minutes.  Kyle Kirk is the most talented of the incoming freshmen.  The 6-5 wing is a strong, smart player who is expected to contribute off the bench.  The frontcourt court welcomes the return of Deven Mitchell after sitting out with a knee injury last year.  The 6-5 junior is an amazing athlete and will be a major contributor if the injury bug is behind him.  Junior college transfer Dex Manswell is a good rebounder and shot blocker and the 6-7 forward will fill in at the post.  Small forward Ryan Jehle and redshirt freshman center Matt King aren’t expected to contribute much this season, but King could become a valuable asset if the frontcourt runs into injury or foul problems.


Who to Watch: Blake Ahearn looks to lead the nation in free-throw shooting for a fourth straight year.  He’s not a shabby shooter from anywhere else on the floor either and averaged 16.2 points per game last year.  Shane Laurie, brother of transfer Spencer, started 14 games last season and should provide a spark off the bench this year.  Dale Lamberth and Tyler Chaney will battle for minutes at the three spot.  Lamberth, who averaged 7.3 points and 2.9 rebounds during the 2005-2006 campaign, is a liability on defense, but is a solid scorer and long range shooter.  Chaney is the most likely candidate to return to the starting role after averaging 8.8 points and starting 18 games as a junior. 


Final Projection: Nathan Bilyeu is an underappreciated blue collar power forward.  At 6-6 and 215 pounds, he’s a little undersized, but Bilyeu is a good rebounder and scorer in traffic and will once again be the leader of the frontcourt.  When Sky Frazier and Drew Richards are put together, they are a solid center, combining for 11.2 points and 7.9 rebounds on the season.  Frazier is more efficient on the perimeter while Richards can battle in the paint.  And it is a good thing there are two of them, since both are foul prone.  This is a deep team and a talented team.  Don’t be surprised if the Bears win the Missouri Valley Conference and pick up an NCAA bid a year too late.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA


Projected Starting Five:

Spencer Laurie, Junior, Guard, DNP last season

Blake Ahearn, Senior , Guard, 16.2 points per game

Tyler Chaney, Senior, Guard, 8.8 points per game

Nathan Bilyeu, Senior, Forward, 9.0 points per game

Drew Richards, Junior, Center, 4.2 points per game

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