#8- The Elon Phoenix
Elon is looking to make an impact in their first season in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Phoenix had a successful finale in the Southern Conference, posting an 18-14 overall record with 11 wins to 5 losses in conference play. I would argue that this conference boasts weaker competition for Elon, however with the loss of several key players it could be a rebuilding season. Leading scorer and rebounder Lucas Troutman has moved on, as well as second leading scorer Sebastian Koch. Two other "core four" members, Jack Isenbarger and Ryley Beaumont are also gone. That being said, this year’s squad boasts a lot of youth and head coach Matt Matheny has shown during his time at Elon that he can develop a young group of players into a quality team. They will have no shortage of tests out of conference, with road trips to Northwestern, Missouri, and Duke on the docket. They will also square off with in-state opponents UNC-Charlotte and UNC-Greensboro. In conference they’ll get games against Towson and Delaware, who each won 25 games a year ago, as well as our lowest ranked North Carolina team, UNC-Wilmington.
Austin Hamilton (Sr.) G- Despite seeing his minutes reduced last season, Hamilton led the Phoenix in assists and increased his FG%, 3 point %, and FT% from the season before, as well as reducing his turnovers and fouls per game. He will be called upon as a leader for this team this season and it will be interesting to see if he returns to a more prominent role.
Dmitri Thompson (Fr.) G- Thompson is the highest rated recruit coming in for Elon, receiving a top 25 ranking in the state of Florida among all players. He received offers from Georgia, Murray State, South Florida, Purdue, and UCF, all programs with better pedigree than Elon. It will be fun to watch how much he is used this season, as he has the potential to be an impact player both now and in the future. If you don’t believe me, watch his game tape.
Elon might be in a bit of a rebuilding year, but there is a lot of young talent to be excited about. The potential is high with this team but I don’t see them coming on until a year or two down the line. I predict somewhere around a .500 finish in conference play.