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August 25, 2008


Head coach: Geno Ford
Last season: 28-7 overall, 13-3 in MAC.
Postseason: Won automatic bid to NCAA Tournament; lost to UNLV in first round 71-58.
Breakdown: Probable starters | Backcourt | Frontcourt | Offense | Defense | Outlook

BACKCOURT

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.

PROBABLE STARTING FIVE
G Jordan Mincy, 5-10/Sr.
2.2 ppg, 2.5 apg
G Al Fisher, 6-1/Sr.
13.9 ppg, 4.0 apg
G Chris Singletary, 6-4/Jr.
13.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 60 steals
F Julian Sullinger, 6-5/Jr
3.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg
F Anthony Simpson
Junior college transfer
TOP RESERVES
G Mike McKee, 6-5/Jr.
5.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg
F Rashad Woods, 6-5/Sr.
5.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 47.8 3-point FG pct
G Tyree Evans, 6-3/Jr.
Junior college transfer
Fisher, though, may not be the most talented player on the team if junior college transfer Tyree Evans earns a roster spot. Evans committed to Cincinnati in 2004, but trouble has followed him since. He was charged with felonies for statutory rape and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute that he pleaded down to misdemeanors, attended two junior colleges and a prep school, signed with Maryland last year, then subsequently released from his scholarship. He enrolled at Kent State and will attempt to walk-on. If he can put his troubled history behind him, he should be an impact player. The backcourt has plenty of experience with two other returning starters. Chris Singletary is the second-leading returning scorer. Point guard Jordan Mincy will never fill up the stat sheet, but he is a glue guy and the team's best perimeter defender. The bench is loaded with experience. Mike McKee, who started 20 games last season and made 43 3-pointers, returns. Rodriquez Sherman, who started 13 games, is coming off knee surgery but should be ready for the season.

FRONTCOURT

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.

OFFENSE

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.

DEFENSE

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.

Ford replaced Jim Christian, who was hired at TCU, but the expectations are the same another 20-win season and contention for an NCAA Tournament bid. The Flashes are one of eight Division I programs to win 20 games in each of the past 10 seasons. Among the others to accomplish the feat are Duke, Florida, Gonzaga and Kansas. Ford is a MAC veteran who played at Ohio and served as an assistant with the Bobcats (1999-2001) and Kent State (2002-05, 2007-08).

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.

IMPACT NEWCOMER

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 dfox@rivals.com.



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