100 Teams in 100 Days: Charleston Cougars

2016-2017 Season Review

In year one of the Earl Grant era at Charleston in 2014-2015, the Cougars won 9 games. The next season they saw a eight win jump to 17. That trend continued this past season as the Cougars improved their win total by eight again, going 25-10. They were 14-4 in the CAA, finishing a game back of UNC Wilmington. The Cougars made it to the CAA Tournament Championship, where they fell to UNCW by 9. They received a #5 seed in the NIT and fell in the first round to Colorado State, 81-74.

Key Losses

The Cougars didn’t lose much from their 25 win team last season. Payton Hulsey is off to Florida Atlantic as a graduate transfer, but he only played in 5 games until missing the rest of the season with an injury. Hulsey scores 4.6 PPG and grabbed 4.2 RPG in those five games. 6’9 Chevez Goodwin decided to transfer to Wofford after a freshman season in which he played 9.8 MPG. Terrance O’Donohue played in 19 games for the Cougars. He is gone after graduating.

Key Returners

The Cougars will be an experienced bunch, as they bring back their top six scorers. Joe Chealey was a first team All-CAA selection last season. The 6’4 junior led the team in scoring and assists with 17.7 PPG and 3.2 APG. He hit a team high 65 threes at a 39.2% clip. 6’7 junior Jarrell Brantley was a second team All-CAA selection and an All Defensive Team selection in a season in which he scored 14.2 PPG and grabbed a team high 8.4 RPG. Grant Riller is a 6’3 sophomore guard that put up 13.1 PPG. Riller was named to the All Rookie Team in the CAA. Cameron Johnson, a 6’4 senior guard, was part of the CAA All Defensive team. He also scored 7.1 PPG, grabbed 3.1 RPG and dished out 1.8 APG. 6’10 junior forward Nick Harris scored 5.9 PPG, grabbed 6.0 RPG and shot 64.0% from the field. Marquise Pointer, a 6’0 junior, averaged a 4.7/2.0/1.8 line for the Cougars in 22 MPG. Evan Bailey, a 6’6 senior, played 9.5 MPG, while 6’7 sophomore Jaylen McManus played 6.3 MPG.

Key Newcomers

Breton Galloway is a 6’3 guard that was part of the 2016 recruiting class, but redshirted last season. Galloway was one of the top recruits in South Carolina. He’s a tough, aggressive player that can knock down shots from deep. Osinachi Smart, a 6’8 235 pound forward, also redshirted last season. Smart is a physical big that rebounds well and can protect the rim. As for the 2017 recruiting class, Samba Ndiaye was a late addition to the recruiting class as Earl Grant looked for a defensive minded big. The 6’9 big man from Senegal is said to be a load defensively. Zep Jasper is an athletic 6’1 guard that has great speed and can score. He received some high major looks.

Final Take

Charleston has to be the hands down favorite to win the CAA this season. With everyone they have returning and all the roster turnover facing defending CAA champion UNC Wilmington, you’d have to make one hell of an argument to convince me otherwise. The frontcourt depth is a bit of a concern, but Ndiaye and Smart should hold their own when Brantley and Harris need a breather. Their backcourt should be excellent with Chealey leading the way. This is a dangerous mid-major that could make quite a bit of noise come March.

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