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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

August 25th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Winthrop Eagles


Overall Rank: #77

Conference Rank: #1 Big South


2005-06: 23-8, 13-3, 1st

2005-06 postseason: NCAA


Winthrop cruised through the Big South, squeaked past Coastal Carolina in the conference tournament final and was given a disrespectful 15 seed in March.  Pundits everywhere saw the opportunity to pick a 15 seed over a two seed.  And we were almost right.  With an offseason that saw Coach Gregg Marshall take the College of Charleston job for a day before returning to Winthrop, hoops have been on the minds of most in Rock Hill, South Carolina all summer long.


Who’s Out: The frontcourt loses some quality players in James Shuler, Otis Daniels, Billy Houston and Scott Draughn.  Shuler started nearly every game, averaging 13.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists.  Daniels was a quality option off the bench and Houston started 10 games last season.  Draughn, who averaged 3.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per contest last season, will not play basketball for Winthrop this year due to a back problem.


Who’s In: Mantoris Robinson should hardly be considered a freshman after spending a year at prep school and redshirting last season.  The 6-5 wing can do a little bit of everything and averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals way back as a senior in high school.  Antwon Harris and Byron Faison will add more depth to the backcourt.  Harris, a transfer from Highland Community College, earned Juco All-America honors last year and could provide a big help on the wing.  Faison, a 6-1 guard, is the player that has Rock Hill excited.  The incoming freshman is a little small for a shooting guard, which inevitably scared away some of the bigger schools, but Faison can score.  Power forward Rainer Blickle could use some time to bulk up and sophomore Jason Killeen returns to be another big body up front after redshirting last season.


Who to Watch: Craig Bradshaw led the team with 6.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game as a junior.  The 6-10 center proved to be an effective scorer as well and bigger things are expected during his senior campaign.  Bradshaw will get some help on the glass from Phillip Williams, who averaged 5.5 points and 3.3 boards in 2005-2006.  Small forward Taj McCullough has shown promise over his two years at Winthrop and will battle for a starting gig this season.  If all three of those guys start, the frontcourt depth will become an issue.  Yet, the newcomers should have enough talent to hold down the fort for a little while when Coach Marshall needs them to.


Final Projection: The Eagles do have an Achilles heel.  Shuler was the only player Winthrop fans didn’t sweat over when on the charity stripe.  With his absence, the team free throw percentage takes a major hit and will cause some problems.  And nobody likes to spend all summer working on free throws.  In the backcourt, Chris Gaynor does the dishing, Torrell Martin does the shooting and last year’s sixth man Mike Jenkins is still looking to develop into a scoring threat.  No matter how bad the free throw shooting becomes, there are enough quality players in the backcourt to hit all the other shots.  This team may be more talented than a year ago, but losing Shuler will be a small blow to chemistry early in the season.  And that is when Winthrop hits the road for their toughest games until March.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA


Projected Starting Five:

Chris Gaynor, Junior, Guard, 6.9 points per game

Torrell Martin, Senior, Guard, 13.8 points per game

Taj McCullough, Junior, Forward, 4.2 points per game

Phillip Williams, Senior, Forward, 5.5 points per game

Craig Bradshaw, Senior, Center, 12.8 points per game

78 Saint Mary's » Complete List » 76 Northern Iowa

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