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August 25, 2008
The backcourt is led by reigning MAC Player of the Year Al Fisher. He started at Siena before going to junior college, but he didn't find his scoring touch until he arrived at Kent State. He averaged 13.9 points per game to lead the Golden Flashes. He's a clutch player who hit the game-winning shot in the final six seconds three times last season.
Al Fisher is a big part of a loaded Kent State backcourt.
The frontcourt has some question marks following the departure of second-team All-MAC selections Mike Scott and Haminn Quaintance. The Flashes need Julian Sullinger to return to his sophomore form and four newcomers to emerge. Junior college transfer Anthony Simpson is the most athletic of the new faces up front. Fellow JC transfer Frank Henry-Ala is a good shooter who can play power forward in the MAC. Justin Greene and Alex Grimsley are true freshmen who could see playing time.
Kent State has changed coaches but likely not the offense. Geno Ford, an assistant on the Flashes' staff last year, will focus on the team strength and run a guard-oriented offense that pushes the ball in transition as much as possible.
Kent State runs a man-to-man, halfcourt defense.
SHOES TO FILL
Quaintance and Scott. Their departures leave a huge void defensively. Quaintance won the league's defensive player of the year award, but it could have gone to Scott. They blocked a combined 96 shots last season. Quaintance was an efficient player on offense, too, leading the MAC in shooting percentage.
MUST STEP UP
Sullinger. In one of the vacant frontcourt spots will be Sullinger, whose brothers are 2010 five-star prospect Jared Sullinger and former Ohio State guard J.J. Sullinger. Kent State's Sullinger will be under pressure to play as well as he did as a sophomore. He averaged 8.1 points and 3.6 rebounds that year before dipping to 3.6 points and 1.8 rebounds last season.
Evans and Simpson. These two could start immediately. Simpson is a forward/center combo who averaged nine points and nine rebounds at Highland Community College in Freeport, Ill. Evans averaged 21.1 points per game at Motlow State CC in Lynchburg, Tenn., last season. He would be provide an upgrade in an already-impressive backcourt.
David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.