The Eastern Michigan men’s basketball 2019-20 season came to a close on Monday, March 9 as the Eagles lost in the first round of the MAC Tournament to Kent State 86-76. Now, with all sports being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s time to look forward to next season and project what the EMU team will look like.
No matter who else ends up on the roster, the Eagles will have plenty of seniors. Thomas Binelli, Ty Groce, Yeikson Montero, Noah Morgan, and Darion Spottsville are all heading into their senior campaigns, and could very well make up the starting lineup. Boubacar Toure is the only starter leaving as the 7’0 center is graduating.
Groce should lead the way as the starting small forward, as he averaged a team-high 11.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last year. He will likely be joined by Binelli in the front court, as the 6’10 senior-to-be put up 8.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game on 31.3% shooting from 3-point range.
Montero and Morgan seem like they will start as well. The former averaged 9.4 points in 23.3 minutes per game, and became one of the go-to scorers late in the year. Morgan averaged 10.0 points and 1.4 assists per game, and looked like he had the potential to be the best player on the team as he scored 30 points in 36 minutes versus Kent State.
The fifth starting spot could go to any number of players as the aforementioned Spottsville looks like the best option right now. But there’s about seven months until the season begins so a lot could change before then.Other options could be Chris Barnes, Shamar Dillard, Chris James, Miles Gibson, Bryce McBride, Luis Pacheco, or an incoming player.
Barnes, Dillard, and James had positive moments last year but their playing time was inconsistent so it’s difficult to predict how it will be next season. James shot 33.3% from three in his freshman campaign. Dillard averaged 3.3 points per game. Gibson (Northwest Kansas Tech) and McBride (Dyersburg State Community College) are junior college transfers.
Gibson averaged 15.6 points per game in 2018 before sitting out last season with Eastern Michigan. McBride is a 6’1 guard from Tennessee that has verbally committed to play for EMU in 2020-21. Other players that are projected to return are Derek Ballard Jr. (junior-to-be), Marcus Gibbs (sophomore-to-be), and Jorden Peterson (junior-to-be).
According to Jeff Goodman’s 2020 transfer list, Jalen King and Damari Parris are expected to transfer from EMU before next season. King averaged 1.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks per game as a junior. Parris originally transferred in from Trinity Valley Community College, and will transfer again as a graduate student with one year of eligibility.
With a few roster spots still open, the Eagles will need to fill it with incoming freshman or transfers. EMU has seven players who have been offered a scholarship and are undecided: Terrell Ard, Javarzia Belton, Mohammed Diarra, Jason Eubank, Otis Frazier III and JaJuan Rodgers. Belton and Diarra are both 6’10 centers.
Eastern Michigan also has interest in three junior college transfers. Jamal Burke is a 6’11 center from Georgia Highlands College. He could help add more depth to the Eagles front court, as could Edward Chang, who is a 6’7 small forward. Demetric Horton is another option, as the 6’5 guard is transferring from Independence Community College.