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2015-16 AAC basketball preview: SMU's postseason ban takes best team out of the running for conference championship but allows for a closer race.

By Chris Johnson
October 13, 2015

With the start of college basketball season less than a month away, we're previewing each team in nine conferences. Using a statistical projection system developed by economist Dan Hanner and SI's Luke Winn, which is now in its second season, we've forecast the conference standings and the top seven scorers from each team. First up is the American Athletic Conference.

Coach of the year: Kevin Ollie, Connecticut

In Ollie’s three years as UConn’s head coach, the Huskies have served a postseason ban (2012-13), won the national championship ('13-14) and failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament ('14-15). None of those outcomes is likely in 2015-16. UConn is too good to miss the tournament, but probably not good enough to make a run at another title. Still, the Huskies have the talent to compete for the AAC championship, which would putt Ollie on the short list for an award honoring the conference’s best coach. It also would not help stem speculation over the possibility of Ollie leaving Storrs, Conn., for an NBA job.

Player of the year: Nic Moore, Southern Methodist

Perhaps the most frustrating part about the penalties the NCAA assessed to SMU last month—including a postseason ban—is their effect on players who are believed to have done nothing wrong. Among them is Moore, a point guard who led the Mustangs in minutes played (1,179), assist rate (31.1) and Win Shares (5.2) in 2014-15, according to sports-reference.com. Though he won’t be able to play in the NCAA tournament again one year after he and the Mustangs suffered a brutal loss to UCLA in the round of 64, Moore is the best backcourt player on the AAC’s best team. He’ll shine during his final year of college hoops.

Freshman of the year: Dedric Lawson, Memphis

It turns out Lawson’s reclassification 2016 to 2015 is exactly what Memphis needed. When his decision was reported last September, the Tigers expected to add him to a rotation featuring all-AAC first-team member Austin Nichols. But Nichols transferred to Virginia this summer, leaving a void in the frontcourt. Lawson, who’s highly regarded for his offensive versatility, could play significant minutes in his first year on campus. Replacing Nichols won’t be easy; he led the Tigers with 18.0 points per 40 minutes and ranked second in the AAC in block rate in 2014-15, according to sports-reference.com. Yet Memphis will count on Lawson to produce right away.

Projected Conference Race

conference rank team projected Conf. record last year's Conf. record
1 SMU 14-4 15-3
2 Connecticut 14-4 10-8
3 Cincinnati 13-5 13-5
4 Tulsa 11-7 14-4
5 Temple 10-8 13-5
6 Memphis 10-8 10-8
7 Houston 8-10 4-14
8 East Carolina 5-13 6-12
9 Tulane 5-13 6-12
10 UCF 5-13 5-13
11 South Florida 4-14 3-15

Each team's outlook in about 68 words

Name Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg POSS MINS
Nic Moore PG 14.3 1.8 5.0 116.1 23% 84%
Markus Kennedy PF 12.1 7.1 1.3 111.5 26% 60%
Keith Frazier SG 11.7 4.2 1.6 116.8 19% 70%
Jordan Tolbert PF 8.6 5.3 0.6 109.7 21% 53%
Ben Moore PF 8.4 5.6 1.8 108.5 21% 61%
Sterling Brown SF 6.6 5.2 2.1 122.5 14% 66%
Semi Ojeleye PF 5.9 4.1 0.5 105.2 19% 25%
Name Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg POSS MINS
Daniel Hamilton SF 12.7 7.1 3.0 103.7 26% 80%
Rodney Purvis SG 12.4 2.8 1.4 105.1 24% 67%
Sterling Gibbs PG 11.6 2.2 3.5 110.2 22% 71%
Amida Brimah C 8.9 5.0 0.4 122.1 16% 65%
Jalen Adams PG 8.5 3.1 3.3 108.4 21% 60%
Shonn Miller PF 8.2 5.2 0.8 106.6 19% 55%
Kentan Facey PF 3.6 3.9 0.4 122.2 13% 40%
Name Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg POSS MINS
Octavius Ellis PF 10.6 7.4 1.2 108.4 22% 70%
Troy Caupain PG 10.4 4.1 3.6 111.0 20% 75%
Gary Clark PF 9.0 7.5 1.5 114.9 19% 70%
Farad Cobb SG 8.5 2.5 1.5 109.2 20% 55%
Shaquille Thomas SF 7.7 3.5 0.8 100.9 20% 55%
Kevin Johnson PG 7.7 1.9 1.5 103.6 20% 53%
Coreontae DeBerry C 6.8 3.8 0.3 102.0 22% 41%
Name Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg POSS MINS
James Woodard SG 14.3 5.0 1.5 114.0 20% 80%
Shaquille Harrison PG 13.4 5.0 3.7 100.5 27% 78%
Rashad Smith SF 9.7 6.0 1.0 106.4 19% 69%
D'Andre Wright PF 9.1 6.2 1.0 102.4 22% 64%
Rashad Ray PG 7.5 2.2 2.8 109.4 17% 62%
Pat Birt SG 5.5 2.2 0.9 106.0 18% 40%
Brandon Swannegan PF 4.9 4.8 0.3 103.1 16% 48%
Name Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg POSS MINS
Quenton DeCosey SG 12.9 4.4 2.2 104.2 25% 72%
Obi Enechionyia PF 12.2 6.6 0.8 111.5 21% 76%
Josh Brown PG 9.8 4.0 2.5 106.5 18% 78%
Jaylen Bond PF 7.5 7.2 0.8 106.9 19% 60%
Devin Coleman SG 6.2 2.8 1.1 98.4 22% 42%
Daniel Dingle SF 6.2 3.6 1.7 101.0 19% 54%
Levan Alston PG 5.2 2.1 1.7 103.5 19% 40%
Name Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg POSS MINS
Ricky Tarrant PG 12.7 3.0 2.5 107.0 23% 72%
Shaq Goodwin PF 12.1 8.2 2.0 108.7 22% 75%
Trahson Burrell SF 9.4 5.1 1.6 107.4 23% 58%
Dedric Lawson PF 8.7 6.3 0.8 102.3 20% 61%
Avery Woodson SG 7.9 2.4 1.2 105.1 16% 60%
Keelon 'K.J.' Lawson SF 7.4 4.1 1.1 102.3 20% 52%
Markel Crawford SG 6.9 2.7 1.7 105.3 18% 55%
Name Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg POSS MINS
Chicken Knowles PF 11.7 6.6 1.1 111.4 21% 72%
Ronnie Johnson PG 11.1 2.9 3.0 107.7 23% 70%
Devonta Pollard PF 10.7 6.0 1.1 103.9 23% 67%
Damyean Dotson SF 9.2 3.9 1.0 110.7 21% 57%
LeRon Barnes SG 7.5 5.7 1.2 108.3 14% 75%
L.J. Rose PG 7.2 2.0 3.9 104.9 21% 56%
Eric Weary SG 5.9 3.0 0.8 100.2 20% 43%
Name Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg POSS MINS
Caleb White SF 14.5 4.0 1.6 112.9 20% 84%
B.J. Tyson SG 14.0 3.9 1.7 102.0 28% 67%
Charles Foster PG 9.0 3.3 2.9 103.5 18% 75%
Michel-Ofik Nzege PF 7.2 5.4 0.8 110.2 17% 55%
Marshall Guilmette PF 6.7 3.7 1.0 100.7 20% 50%
Clarence Williams PF 6.5 4.7 0.6 106.8 18% 50%
Lance Tejada, Jr. PG 6.4 1.9 2.3 98.4 22% 49%
Name Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg POSS MINS
Louis Dabney PG 15.3 3.7 1.8 107.2 24% 81%
Malik Morgan SG 9.4 4.3 1.9 108.9 20% 73%
Dylan Osetkowski C 7.9 5.7 1.0 103.2 19% 63%
Jernard Jarreau PF 6.8 5.1 1.0 98.3 19% 60%
Blake Paul PF 6.8 4.6 0.6 100.7 18% 54%
Cameron Reynolds SG 6.6 2.3 0.9 97.3 24% 43%
Melvin Frazier SG 6.2 2.5 1.1 103.8 19% 47%
Name Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg POSS MINS
Adonys Henriquez SG 12.9 4.2 2.2 116.4 18% 85%
B.J. Taylor SG 12.3 2.8 2.1 109.4 23% 70%
Justin McBride C 9.5 5.7 0.2 100.9 27% 47%
Daiquan Walker PG 9.4 2.2 2.3 101.4 21% 64%
Staphon Blair PF 8.8 4.9 0.2 114.0 18% 60%
Matt Williams SG 7.5 2.7 1.1 118.3 16% 53%
Tacko Fall C 6.6 4.5 0.5 104.8 19% 48%
Name Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg POSS MINS
Troy Holston, Jr. SG 12.4 3.9 1.5 101.8 20% 85%
Chris Perry C 10.1 5.9 0.7 103.0 24% 57%
Nehemias Morillo SF 9.9 4.0 1.3 96.0 22% 65%
Roddy Peters PG 9.7 3.8 3.4 99.7 22% 80%
Bo Zeigler PF 7.1 4.5 0.6 98.7 18% 59%
Angel Nunez SF 6.5 5.5 1.2 101.1 20% 49%
Luis Santos PF 4.9 3.7 0.4 101.7 17% 40%

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IN
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