Too Early 2018-2019 Preview

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Jared Grubbs, Mar 28, 2018.

By Jared Grubbs on Mar 28, 2018 at 6:51 PM
  1. Jared Grubbs

    Jared Grubbs Administrator Staff Member


    It's way too early to start making predictions for next season, but who wants to wait that long? With Butler's season fresh in the rearview mirror and another weekend of college basketball left to watch it's only natural to look ahead at what comes next for the Butler Bulldogs. So as the season winds down and the recruiting heats up, here's a look at where Butler currently stands heading into a key offseason for LaVall Jordan.

    Key Losses - Kelan Martin, Tyler Wideman
    Butler is losing the leading scorer in the Big East and the most efficient scorer in the Big East. There is no doubt that impact will be felt. Kelan Martin finished his career as Butler's 2nd all-time leading scorer. But it's not just his scoring that Butler will miss. Kelan also had the best defensive rebounding rate on the team to go along with the second best turnover rate and fourth best assist rate. He was the complete package on the basketball court. And the worst news for Butler is there is no proven player currently on the roster set to replace him. The power forward position is without a doubt the biggest question mark for Butler heading into the offseason.

    The loss of Tyler Wideman isn't on the same level as Martin, but it's still a significant one. Big Cat was a physical presence down low for Butler and one of the most efficient players in the country. His 67% shooting paired with his 14% offensive rebounding rate gave him an offensive rating of 126.8, good for 26th best in the nation. He wasn't a high volume scorer but he took advantage of every opportunity he got. The good news for Butler is, unlike with Kelan Martin, there is a proven replacement for him in the starting lineup. Nate Fowler will step in and fill Wideman's spot without missing a beat, and redshirt sophomore and former top 100 recruit Joey Brunk will finally get his chance to prove himself in a reserve role.

    Key Additions - Jordan Tucker (midseason transfer), Markeese Hastings (freshman)
    As of now there is only one roster addition for the Bulldogs who will be available for the opening game. Markeese Hastings, a 6-6 forward from Michigan, is the lone member of the 2018 freshman class. He will likely get overlooked by most since he is only ranked 375th in the country by 247 Sports, but that might be a mistake. Hastings appears to be physically ready for the next level and can contribute in a variety of ways on both ends of the floor. It would be ideal for Butler if players like Christian David and Jerald Gillens-Butler take the next step in their development and block Hastings' path to playing time, but it wouldn't be a complete shock if Markeese pushes his way into playing time sooner rather than later.

    The prize addition for LaVall Jordan is Duke transfer Jordan Tucker. Tucker was rated as the 55th best freshman this season by 247 Sports. He couldn't find any playing time on a loaded Duke team and opted to leave after only half a season. He won't be eligible until the conclusion of the fall semester, but expect him to make a major impact once he finally sees the court. He won't replace Kelan Martin's production, but he will hopefully be capable of picking up a decent chunk of Kelan's 21 points a game. Tucker's best asset is his 3-point shot, and at 6'7" he should be able to fill in the gap at power forward in Butler's lineup. Relying on someone who has only logged 14 minutes of game time at the college level isn't exactly comforting, but Tucker is going to have to be a significant contributor if Butler wants to get back to the dance for a 5th straight season.

    It's a Big Offseason For...
    All of next season's sophomores. Butler needs a big step forward from at least one of them, hopefully two of them. Christian David still possesses an extremely high ceiling and Jerald Gillens-Butler has the potential to be a matchup nightmare, but the two I have my eye on are point guard Aaron Thompson and center Joey Brunk. Thompson has already shown he can be a capable starter in the Big East and has established himself as one of the best on ball defenders in the league. He can be so much more though. It's well documented that Thompson struggles from the 3-point arc, shooting only 2-15 from distance this season. He continues to spend a lot of time developing that shot, and if he can become even an average 3 point shooter it will tremendously bolster the Butler offense.

    There are two other aspects of his offensive game that are even more important though. The first is turnover rate. Thompson's 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio looks promising from a freshman, but it's also a little misleading. His turnover rate was by far the highest on the team. Much of that will get cleaned up as he gains both confidence and experience while learning to make better decisions with the ball. The other part of his game that needs to improve is finishing at the rim. Thompson was extremely impressive converting at the rim early in the season but then fell off a cliff. He converted only 46.3% of his shots at the rim. For comparison, Kamar Baldwin was second worst amongst Butler regulars at 57%. Thompson displayed an excellent knack for getting his body into shot blockers and inhibiting their ability to disrupt his shot, but then he simply wasn't converting the layup. The potential to become an outstanding finisher at the rim is clearly there, and once that improves his offensive game will find a new level. I don't think Thompson is just a defender, I expect him to become one of the all around best players in the Big East before his career is over.

    The one player who absolutely must have a good offseason is Joey Brunk. The fan favorite from Southport is going to see action whether he is ready for it or not. Brunk is one of only two big men on the roster, and LaVall doesn't currently have the flexibility to play small at the center position either. Hinkle begged to see more of Joey last season. It's almost time to see if their faith in the local top 100 recruit has been well placed. Brunk only saw 109 minutes last season, most coming when the game was no longer in question, but the numbers he put up were solid. He shot 52% from the floor and grabbed rebounds at a mind blowing rate that look like they should belong to Angel Delgado of Seton Hall. Brunk doesn't need to produce anywhere near that level next season, but he absolutely must be a respectable backup for the Bulldogs. Hopefully next season will be the beginning of his emergence as the star Butler fans think he can be.

    2018-2019 Trend: Down...for now
    Butler brings back a lot of key pieces next season, and much of the roster is young and will only improve. Kamar Baldwin will be one of the best players in the league, but is that enough? They could really use one more piece to help solidify their roster and provide insurance in case any of those young players fail to develop. The good news is Butler has 2 scholarships to work with and the transfer market is deep. Transfers are often looking for a stable program that can provide lots of playing time and an excellent chance to go to the NCAA tournament. There won't be many programs that fit that description for a graduate forward better than Butler. If LaVall can manage to snag either a top scorer or a starting quality forward it would make all the difference in the world on next season's outlook, and that "trending down" could be quickly reversed into a "trending up" with only a single signing.
    OldSchoolDawg1983 likes this.


Discussion in 'Articles' started by Jared Grubbs, Mar 28, 2018.

    1. Insane Dawg
      Insane Dawg
      Nice analysis. I can't come to grips with why you and others think Hastings is that good. The one I think who will make the biggest leap next year is McD and will potentially be one of the top scorers. Tucker may be the fifth starter but he's not going to be ahead of McD in the depth charts. You are right that the trend down can be reversed. But it will take at least one transfer if not two.
    2. seadawg
      Hastings is the #2 ranked SF (247 sports) in Michigan. Take a look at his workout video to see for your self. How he assimilates to BU's style of play will be the key to playing time.
    3. Insane Dawg
      Insane Dawg
      Gigantic leap from Class B in Michigan to the Big East. If he were that good he would have had a lot of offers. I hope you are right.
    4. Jared Grubbs
      Jared Grubbs
      I’ve never seen Hastings play in person, so I’m not going to get into too much discussion on him. I’m simply not educated enough to take a strong stance. His strength and athleticism will give him an edge in getting on the court earlier in his career because he will be able to impact the game even if he isn’t ready to be a scorer. I have no idea how capable he will be in picking up the Butler system. As a high school player he kind of reminds me of a much more polished version of Henry Baddley. Of course back then we had no idea Baddley could be a 40% 3-point shooter, which has quickly changed his projections.

      Sent from my iPhone using Butler Hoops mobile app
      BHayden and Dawgedd like this.
    5. Insane Dawg
      Insane Dawg
      Hastings is the 11 best player in Michigan and 375 in the nation. The lack of offers and ranking suggest he is a red shirt candidate. However maybe he is better than McD, Tucker, Baddley and CD. Will know later this year.
    6. dawgnation
      SpartanDawgs likes this.
    7. seadawg
      No one is claiming he is better, but I seriously doubt he is red-shirted. We should hoping he is another pleasant surprise. He went head to head against Bingham (#1 ranked player in Michigan) at 6'10" and more than held his own.
      estar20dawg, SpartanDawgs and Dawgedd like this.
    8. Dawgedd
      Exactly. We won’t know for sure but it seems like his athleticism and play style could allow him to play the 4. Yes, he is undersized for that position but his athleticism may allow him to play up a position against most teams. Plus he could put on a little more muscle by that time. Point being—he doesn’t necessarily have to be better than McDermott or Tucker to get as many minutes, but just be a better positional fit.

      Sent from my iPhone using Butler Hoops mobile app
    9. seadawg
      This kid is chiseled now and work out fanatic. Of course he could always get stronger and is now being listed as 6'7" ? As I stated much earlier, Hastings could be one of the most physically ready freshmen ever at BU upon arrival. Hopefully he will come with a chip on his shoulder. Ball handling may be a weakness to improve on.​
      estar20dawg likes this.
    10. dippper61
      If he is half as chiseled and physical as Mike Marshall was and plays with a similar mentality that Mike did he could carve out a small role next year.

      Sent from my iPhone using Butler Hoops mobile app
    11. Dawgedd
      Before I talk about dream scenarios, let me stipulate: yes, Hastings is a 2 star recruit, 6'7" 195lbs, and a freshman. But this is a message board, so let a kid dream:

      I wonder what the coaching staff sees Hastings as (a wing player, a small ball big, or both)? Doesn't he play a small ball big type role in high school? In looking at Villanova and their use of small ball, they have no-one on their roster taller than 6'9". Granted both Spellman and Paschall are both 240-250ish, so they can bang other post players if necessary. But what if the staff sees Hastings as a future small ball 5? Say he is 6'7 or grows to 6'8"/6'9", fills out at 220-230 (yes, he is already chiseled but still could add additional muscle for a specific role). With his excellent athleticism, that would be fun to watch.

      My belief that we need an athletic 4 rests on pigeon holing Hastings as a wing. But what if he is that athletic 4/small ball 5? I hope the coaches see him that way because I think the athleticism of those lineups and the matchup problems they create would be fun basketball to watch.
    12. seadawg
      It would difficult for me to imagine any kid in this day and age coming in with the mentality of Marshall. He was epitome of toughness. I also don't see MH defending 5s but capable with 2s, 3s, and 4s. I don't by the 2 star rating though. Every other SF or PF rated above him in Michigan are headed to B10 schools. As Jared stated he is similar to a bigger version of HB and there could be much potential for good things in the future.
      SpartanDawgs likes this.
    13. Dawgedd
      I agree, Marshall had beast mode mentality--it's difficult to imagine another frosh like that. Hastings has been cited for his toughness though so there is always hope. One downside of Marshall was his inability to shoot (even his free throws were ~50%) so he had to play more on the interior on offense. I believe I have heard that Hastings is a capable if not great shooter (anyone have his high school stats?) so he could provide good spacing on offense. I agree about not seeing him defending 5s well but I would also argue that traditional 5s may struggle to defend him. Also, perhaps his quickness/athleticism could bother some traditional 5s that aren't at the elite level.When playing a small ball lineup it is always a question of whether your matchup advantage outweighs their matchup advantage.

      I do hope the staff experiments with him in a 4/small ball 5 role early in the year---it might be the way to get him some minutes since he probably will be behind HB, SM, CD at the wing position (and probably also JT once he comes at the semester). Whereas if he is playing a 4/small ball role, he might have a unique niche to find playing time.

      I think the important (and currently unknown) point is how the staff views him.
      seadawg likes this.
    14. Irishdawg
      I don't buy the 2 star rating either, but where guys ranked ahead of him are heading have no bearing on his value as a player, same with Norman. We'll see how he adjusts to the college game soon enough, though my guess is if he does see the floor next year it's because he's picked up the defensive scheme.
      seadawg likes this.
    15. seadawg
      I often become disillusioned when folks degrade players that have signed on with BU and further criticize those on the team. I fully realize some of it is warranted and but these kids chose BU. I am no different but I would much rather support these players than find faults. This is the age of "the next big thing" and instant gratification both of which tends to lead to disappointment. There are recruits and transfers who have no connection to BU, yet many are spoken about as saviors and in much better terms than the kids who actually represent BU. I don't want to be a candy ass about this but some the negativity gets a little stale.
    16. Dawgedd

      Jimmy Lafakis has some pictures up from what seems to be an open gym in Hinkle. CD dunkin, JT ballin and other great ones. Awesome to see a lot of Dawgs getting after it already.
    17. Insane Dawg
      Insane Dawg
      I'm not faulting Hastings. Glad we have him. But to put too high expectations on a kid who has never played at the level Butler is expected to play at in the BE is just as unfair as finding faults. I remember half the board wanting McD's scholarship to be pulled and Cooper Neese was the second coming. Hell there are posters that still don't care much for McD and PJ. I have been critical of Fowler, not because he isn't a good person and an asset, more because he can and could be far more than he has been. Is that his fault ? Maybe. It also maybe on the coaching staff. Maybe it's my xpectations are unreasonable. There are those who try to denegrate AT as a freshman playing in the BE to Nored as a freshman playing in the Horizon League. Hell there are guys posting above who have been incredibly critical of a 17 year old kid with another year to play in high school who loves Butler. It's nuts.

      On the other hand this would be a very boring site if we were all in agreement. Maybe we should shut it down along with each of us getting off Twitter.

      That's America- finding faults.
    18. seadawg
      Insane, I was not referring to you specifically but just some posters in general. I don't believe in personal attacks especially those hiding behind a PC or phone. I am certainly not opposed to varying opinions or spirited debate either. My only expectation for MH is that barring injury he will not be red-shirted. In fact we tend to agree on most topics but that doesn't make either of us right. I don't put a lot of faith in the rating system and while it's all speculation, kids are players or else they are not when they get to next level from HS and others need to be developed and take a little more time. It seems nearly every year BU has a player that emerges from nowhere or with little fanfare.
    19. Dawgedd
      Hinkle likes this.

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