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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

August 28th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

 

Overall Rank: #75

Conference Rank: #1 Sun Belt

 

2005-06: 23-8, 12-2, 1st East

2005-06 postseason: NIT

 

Western Kentucky had another great regular season during the 2005-2006 campaign, knocking off teams like UAB and Virginia.  However, when March rolled around, the Hilltoppers stumbled.  Coach Darrin Horn will once again deal with high expectations and this team is deep enough and talented enough to get to the NCAAs, but they were last year too.

 

Who’s Out: On the surface the loss of Anthony Winchester is huge.  Surely his 18.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists will be missed, but WKU has plenty of options in the backcourt.  It is the absence of Elgrace Wilborn that should have Hilltopper fans worried.  The 6-8, 245 pound center averaged 8.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks and his presence under the basket will be difficult to replace.  Guard Joemal Campbell, who mostly came off the bench last season, has transferred to North Alabama.

 

Who’s In: WKU needed a point guard or two and they picked up a couple nice options.  Tyrone Brazelton, a transfer from Missouri State – West Plains, is expected to take over the starting job.  Brazelton is a playmaker and can do a little of everything else too.  He has a nice shooting stroke beyond the arc, is a pest on the defensive end and can get up and down the floor.  Sophomore Desire Gabou will see some minutes at the point as well.  The Ivory Coast native spent some time playing in France and knows the system at the Hill after redshirting last season.  A.J. Slaughter may be relegated to the bench this year, but the 6-3 freshman is a great scorer who will have to wait his turn before he makes a huge impact.  Up front WKU could use some help right away and Raed Mostafa should provide that.  The 6-8, 220 pound power forward is a mature and experienced player after spending two seasons at North Dakota State College of Science and playing in Germany.  Jeremy Evans is another typical athletic and versatile WKU big man who will fit into Coach Horn’s system nicely.

 

Who to Watch: If you’re not a Sun Belt fan, there is only one name you need to know, but I recommend becoming a Sun Belt fan and learning a few more names.  But for now, that one name is Courtney Lee.  The 6-5 wing averaged 17.4 points and a team high 6.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.6 steals per contest.  Expect him to lead the team in points this year too.  He’s a solid shooter from everywhere on the floor and can carry the team on his back if he needs too.  Yet, with Ty Rogers, Benson Callier, Butch Jointer and Orlando Mendez-Valdez joining him on the perimeter, Lee won’t need to carry the Hilltoppers on his own.  Callier is the most intriguing of the group.  After starting 19 games last season, the former Seminole may be relegated to the bench or asked to play the four again if the forward options don’t pan out.

 

Final Projection: There are choices in the paint, but none are proven threats.  Daniel Emerson showed promise in four starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.9 rebounds.  At 6-8 and 230 pounds, Emerson has the most girth to battle at the center spot.  Mike Walker added on 2.9 points and rebounds per contest and the junior will at least get a chance to see a major increase in minutes this year.  Boris Siakam earned seven starts as a sophomore last season and is looking to sneak into a starting role.  Despite the questions in the paint, the options aren’t that bad and WKU should end on top the Sun Belt.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA

 

Projected Starting Five:

Tyrone Brazleton, Junior, Guard, DNP last season

Ty Rogers, Junior, Guard, 7.2 points per game

Courtney Lee, Junior, Guard, 17.4 points per game

Mike Walker, Junior, Forward, 2.9 points per game

Daniel Emerson, Sophomore, Forward, 3.8 points per game

76 Northern Iowa » Complete List » 74 Fresno State

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