After finishing the 2007-08 season with a 28-7 record (13-3 in the Mid-American Conference), Kent State was picked by MAC News Media Association as the favorites to win the MAC East Division for the second consecutive season.
With eight letterwinners returning, including three starters, the Flashes have their sights set on extending its consecutive string of 20-win seasons to 11.
"Every one of our perimeter players are back and should be a year better," said first-year Kent State head coach Geno Ford. "The outside guards were a real strength of our team a year ago, and we are counting on quality minutes as well as production from those guys once again."
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The 23rd head coach in Kent State's 92-year history, Ford has plenty of talent and experience to draw from.
Leading the way is last season's MAC Player of the Year Al Fisher, who averaged 16.3 points per game over the final 14 contests of his junior season. Fisher, an Honorable Mention All-American, is the first leading scorer to return for the Golden Flashes since Trevor Huffman in 2001-02.
Other returning lettermen at guard are junior Chris Singletary and senior Jordan Mincy, both returning starters, and junior Rodriquez Sherman and senior Mike McKee.
Singletary was among the league leaders last season with 10.3 points and 1.9 steals per game. Mincy has played over 100 games in his career and is one of the team's top on-the-ball defenders. Sherman, a MAC All-Freshman team selection, likely will redshirt after suffering a knee injury and McKee has several starts to his credit.
While the backcourt certainly will bring plenty of experience to the unit, it's the newcomers that might draw the most attention.
First, the Golden Flashes added top recruit Tyree Evans, who last season played at Motlow Community College in Tennessee under current KSU assistant Bobby Steinburg. Evans averaged 21.2 points per game last year on his way to being named Tennessee Junior and Community College Player of the Year. Rivals.com ranked Evans as the sixth best junior college player in the country.
"Tyree is a big-time talent that can really shoot the ball, plus his athleticism will give us some intangible productivity," Ford said.
Also competing for time at guard will be redshirt freshman Antonio DiMaria, who boasts a 41-inch vertical jump, and walk-on Cameron Joyce, younger brother of former MAC standout Dru Joyce of Akron.
The Flashes aren't as settled in the frontcourt where they'll need to replace the steadiness supplied by Mike Scott and the outstanding defense of Haminn Quaintance. Scott and Quaintance combined for 23.2 points and 13.8 rebounds per game last season.
Senior Julian Sullinger and junior Brandon Parks return for the Flashes in the post. They'll be joined in the frontcourt by newcomers Anthony Simpson, a freshman who was ranked the 49th best recruit by Rivals.com, junior college transfer Frank Henry-Ala, and freshmen Alex Grimsley and Justin Greene.
"The guys we added inside have a lot of upside," Ford said. "They are all very talented, athletic student-athletes who give us some real quality depth."
Here's a look at the entire MAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll:
MAC EastKent State (16 first place votes) – 124 pointsMiami (6) – 109 pointsBowling Green – 70 pointsAkron – 67 pointsOhio – 66 pointsBuffalo – 35 pointsMAC WestWestern Michigan (15) – 122 pointsEastern Michigan (7) – 105 pointsCentral Michigan – 79 pointsToledo – 71 pointsBall State – 55 pointsNorthern Illinois – 39 pointsTournament Champion Votes:
Kent State (11), Miami (7), Bowling Green (2), Eastern Michigan (2)
Stay tuned to KentSportsReport.com for more from MAC Media Day including video of Ford and Fisher as they discuss the upcoming season.