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NAIA Hoops Report: Preseason DII Top 25

It’s October!! Which means we finally have REAL games tipping off this month. With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to come out with our first ever NAIA Hoops Report Rankings. These rankings, by no means, mean anything. They are purely for fun, and we hope you enjoy our outlook on how teams look across the country!

  1. Spring Arbor (MI) – The defending national champs return one of the best duos in NAIA, in All-Americans Paul Marandet (16.4ppg/6.9apg), and Brandon Durnell (16.5ppg/6.5rpg). Being #1 goes beyond just those two though, as they only lose two players from last season and return 4 of their top 5 scorers including Jeff Beckman who led the team in rebounds and blocked shots.
  2. Oregon Tech – You can’t talk about best players in the Country without mentioning Oregon Tech’s 6’1 Guard, Mitchell Fink. The 2x All-American and 2x-Cascade Collegiate Conference Player of the Year, joins fellow All-American Seth Erickson (13.9ppg) in hoping to finish their Senior seasons as National Championships.
  3. College of Idaho – A Fab Four team last season, the Coyotes will return three starters in 2019-2020. They are All-American Guard Talon Pinckney (12.0ppg/4.9apg/2.6spg), last years leading scorer Nate Bruneel (12.8ppg), and Jake Bruner (4.3ppg/5.4rpg). They signed 2 JUCO guards, Otto Taylor (14ppg) and Ricardo Time (9.5ppg) to help bring them depth and scoring as well.
  4. Indiana Wesleyan – The team lost a lot, but All-American Kyle Mangas (23.6ppg/5.0rpg) is as good as any player in the country. Canaan Coffey (9.0ppg/4.4rpg) started every game as a Junior, and they add a really nice NCAA D1 transfer from Jacksonville University in Tanner Rubio. Head Coach Greg Tonagel is also still at the helm, so I believe that Indiana Wesleyan is still one of the top contenders this season.
  5. Morningside (IA) – A 2018-2019 NAIA DII Quarterfinal squad who returns four starters including All-Americans Tyler Borchers (16.3ppg/7.0rpg), and Zach Imig (11.9ppg/3.1apg). Coach Jim Sykes is one of the best coaches out there, and has a team that could battle for a National Title.
  6. Olivet Nazarene (IL) – I know they didn’t make a run in the NAIA tournament last season, but they return their entire roster, including 1st Team All-American Nic Reed. They are deep enough, and talented enough to make a serious run this year, and for that they start the season this high in our rankings.
  7. Dakota Wesleyan (SD) – They return All-Americans Ty Hoglund (26.3ppg/4.2rpg), and Nick Harden (17.5ppg/2.5spg), and seven of their top 10 scorers. The GPAC is loaded, and Dakota Wesleyan will be a force in Sioux Falls come March.
  8. IU East (IN) – Another NAIA Quarterfinal team from last season. They return their top two scorers, and four starters from that team including All-American Bishop Smith (18.1ppg).
  9. Mount Vernon Nazarene (OH) – 2nd Team All-American Jevon Knox (18.9ppg/5.9rpg) returns along side of fellow starters Austin Jones (13.0ppg/5.1rpg) and Jacob Paul (9.7ppg). With six other returners back in the mix for this season, this veteran group should have a good chance to improve on their NAIA DII Sweet 16 appearance from last season.
  10. Madonna (MI) – They return two All-Americans in Dwight Burton (22.2ppg/4.1rpg) and Josh Reynolds (16.0ppg/5.5rpg). They also return 6’10 big man Mark Mettie (9.5ppg/5.8rpg). They signed Henry Speight, who is an intriguing forward out of Mott Community College.
  11. Briar Cliff (IA) – Returning starters Ethan Freidel (16.2ppg), and All-American Jackson Lamb (15.6ppg/6.3rpg) will look to take over the leadership reigns from a team that lost in the NAIA Quarterfinals last year. Head Coach Mark Svagera will also be leaning on returners Jaden Kleinhesselink (7.2ppg) and Austin Roetman (5.9ppg), to play bigger roles this season as well.
  12. IU Kokomo (IN) – An NAIA DII Sweet 16 participant last season. The Cougars return almost their entire roster from last season including the dynamic scoring duo of All-American Trequan Spivey (18.6ppg/4.0rpg), and Antoin Clifton (18.4ppg/6.8rpg). JUCO transfer Allante Harper will help add some scoring, and NAIA Transfer Jesus Martinez will add some size and depth to the roster.
  13. Marian (IN) – Fresh off of a NAIA DII Fab Four appearance, the Knights return two starters in Cameron Wolter (11.2ppg/5.6rpg), and Sterling Brown (9.8ppg). They add JUCO Transfer Tyrie Johnson who averaged 22.7ppg last season at Dakota College, and Nick Rogers who played at NCAA D1 IUPUI.
  14. Lincoln (Ill) – Only their 2nd year as an NAIA program, but I am rolling the dice with the talent they have brought in. They return top scorers in Trayvon Tyler (19ppg) and Darnell Latham Jr. (14.8ppg). They also add NCAA D1 Transfers 6’9 Christian Romaine (Illinois State), and 5’10 Laytwan Porter (Northern Illinois), both who have sat out a couple years. High scoring JUCO wing Winslow Martin II will also be a factor. They will need to prove it yet, but on paper, they have a ton of talent.
  15. Cornerstone (MI) – A Sweet 16 team from last season who has eight returners, including four starters. The group will be led by All-American guard Christian Rodriguez (13.5ppg/5.0apg). They are a team that could move up the list quick, but want to see how they play without Stud All-American big man Sam Vander Sluis who averaged 20.7ppg and 15.8rpg.
  16. Warner (FL) – Darryl Mercer (12.4ppg/3.7apg), and Bart Shild (7.2ppg/3.1rpg) are the starters who return for the Royals. They will be looking for JUCO Transfers Darrius Hyppolite (21ppg) and Joshua Rathell (11.3ppg) to fill the shoes of some of the key players they lost.
  17. Bethel (IN) I battled with this one, as I had them here before the Crossroads League coaches poll had them ranked 6th in the league. However, even though they lost a ton, 2nd Team All-American Trevion Crews leads the way for the Pilots. Plus, I like the additions of former Indiana player Grant Gelon, JUCO transfer Nicoloy Bailey, and VCU transfer Dylan Sheehy-Guiseppi. New coach Steve Drabyn comes over from NCAA D1 Lipscomb, and I believe that his personnel fits to what made the Lipscomb offense successful.
  18. Oklahoma Wesleyan – Brooks Haddock (11.1ppg), and Lance Timpton (10.9ppg/5.7rpg) will look to take over the leadership roles from the back to back KCAC champions.
  19. Jamestown (ND) – Three starters back, Brock Schrom (10ppg/4.8rpg), Jack Talley (9.2ppg/6.1rpg), Isiah Dobson (8.5ppg), plus Terrell Alfred (11.9ppg) off the bench on a squad that made the Sweet 16 and almost knocked off Spring Arbor who went on to win the National Title. Head Coach Danny Neville will have his team in the hunt.
  20. Montreat (NC) – The Appalachian Athletic Conference could be wide open this year. Montreat brings back eight guys from last season including two starters. Nicodemus Payne (12.1ppg) leads the returners in scoring. Juco transfers JaJa Davis, Ezekiel Ingram will help to bring size and depth to the roster.
  21. Bellevue (NE) – A weird year for Bellevue last season saw Lucas Gabriel be hired on as the Head Coach after serving as the associate head coach. They have an entire new roster, most of which are California JUCO transfers. Lewis Hayes from Community College of San Francisco will have a shot at being an NAIA DII All-American this season. Isaiah Bates will also add some size and scoring ability. While Guards, Jemeil King and Jaron Dickson will be a good threat on the perimeter.
  22. Antelope Valley (CA) – Associate Head Coach Jordan Mast was just promoted to Head Coach in early October. They return two starters, with a handful of others who saw some time as starters last year. They will also look to NCAA D1 transfer Ronnie Rousseau to help lighten the scoring load lost from last season.
  23. Southeastern (FL) – New Head Coach Kevin Lubbers takes over a Fire squad that returns three starters. Jeremy Oppenheimer (12.5ppg), Isaiah Moody (11.6ppg), and Michael Hill (5.1ppg) will help to bring experience as transfers Blake Morrow (Queens), Karl Jeantry (Daytona St), D-Juan Taylor-Hodge (Limestone) will all help contribute this season.
  24. Southern Oregon – Head Coach Brian McDermott has 22 years of experience at Southern Oregon, and has a good group of returners back. Jordan Hunt, Terron Bradford, and Tate Hoffman all averaged double figures for the Raiders. The Cascade Collegiate Conference is the real deal, but Coach McDermott has navigated the league successfully before, and I like his squad this year.
  25. Union (KY) – Only five returners back from last season, but hard to leave out a program that has won six straight Appalachian Athletic Conference Championships. Coach Kevin Burton will have his squad ready to compete. Jakobe Wharton (8.7ppg), and Derek Morgan (11.3ppg) will help to lead the charge this year for the Bulldogs.

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