#9- The UNC-Asheville Bulldogs
The UNC-Asheville Bulldogs go into this season with a team dominated by Freshman and Sophomores coming off a winning season a year ago. Only 5 of the 18 players in the program for this season are Juniors or Seniors, but that won’t stop Head Coach Nick McDevitt from trying to field a competitive team. They reached the semi-finals of the Big South conference tournament last season but lose several key players, including Jaron lane and D.J. Cunningham. The Bulldogs featured a high powered offense, scoring 77.7 points per game, which ranked 33rd in the nation. UNCA faced a tough out of conference schedule last season and weathered it somewhat well, but this season they have a chance to win some impressive games against non-conference opponents. They’ll open the season with a road game against ACC member Wake Forest and also have South Carolina, UNC-Charlotte, and ECU on the schedule.
Andrew Rowsey (So.) G- Rowsey was electric in his freshmen season, averaging over 20 PPG which was the second highest in the nation for a first year player. He earned all-conference honors and had double-digit points in all but one of the Bulldog’s games. He set a UNCA record for 3 pointers in a season and set a scoring record for the Dedmon Center with a 41 point outburst against Radford. With all of these accomplishments in his first season, there’s no limit on what Rowsey could do this season.
Will Weeks (So.) G- The backcourt partner of Rowsey put up solid numbers of 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.5 steals last season. As long as Rowsey keeps scoring, Weeks should find even more opportunities to stuff the stat sheet this season as the clear-cut #2 option for the Bulldogs. He has good size for a guard at 6-6, which is reflected in his defensive numbers. If he plays well, this would be one of the most exciting backcourts in the nation.
The remarkable freshmen duo of last season should only get better, but it remains to be seen whether UNCA can go far with only those 2. With a lot of youth surrounding them, the Bulldogs have a high ceiling but will likely be inconsistent. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say UNCA wins the conference tournament in the Big South and makes the NCAA tournament on the backs of Rowsey and Weeks. But even if they don’t, imagine what this team could do when they’re Seniors.