Around the MVC

MVC men’s basketball coaches provided start-of-summer updates on Monday. Some highlights:

  • Missouri State coach Paul Lusk said the Bears will be bigger and stronger than last season, when 6-foot-7 sophomore Christian Kirk provided most of the minutes in the lane. Kirk and sophomore Bruce Marshall (6-10, 230 pounds) are older and bigger. Freshman Tyler McCullough is 6-10, 230 pounds. Senior transfer Emmanuel Addo (6-7, 220) played three seasons at Northern Colorado, averaging 9.6 points and 4.1 rebounds as a sophomore.
  • Indiana State coach Greg Lansing expects forward Manny Arop to make the Canadian team and play in the World University Games in July in Russia.
  • Illinois State guard Bryant Allen, one of three returners who played significant minutes, is off the team after violating team rules on Sunday. Allen was ISU’s lone returning starter. In the conference call, coach Dan Muller said Allen would be ready to go by mid-July after recovering from ankle surgery. By Monday afternoon, Allen no longer was a member of the team.
  • Bradley coach Geno Ford added two transfers to his backcourt, both of whom practiced with the Braves last season. Anthony Fields, a transfer from Wake Forest, is a point guard with good speed. Omari Grier, a transfer from Florida Atlantic, is a 6-4 shooting guard who made 40.8 percent of his threes as a freshman. Both are sophomores.
  • Loyola forward Christian Thomas, a junior, averaged 12.1 points and 6.5 rebounds. “He’s as high-character kid as you can have,” Ramblers coach Porter Moser said. “I’d like him to bring some other guys along and be more of a leader. We have no seniors and we have two juniors. He’s the only post player that is an upperclassmen. He’s got to bring some of them along.”
  • Evansville’s backcourt is in a major rebuild after losing Colt Ryan, , Ned Cox and Troy Taylor. Coach Marty Simmons expects sophomore D.J. Balentine to make up some of the scoring lost. He averaged 8.1 points last season. Freshman point guard Jaylon Brown is as athletic as any player Simmons has had, he said. Freshman point Duane Gibson, Cleveland Plain-Dealer Player of the Year, averaged 11.9 points and 8.9 assists.
  • Drake is raising money for a practice gym connected to the Knapp Center. Coach Ray Giacoletti said the school has about $4.2 million raised for the $7-million building. It will feature two gyms with locker rooms. “It’s really something that will help us drastically,” he said.
  • Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson called guard Wes Washpun, a sophomore transfer, a key player. Washpun, a 6-1 guard, transferred from Tennessee and sat out last season. “He’s a guy that is the most athletic guy, the fastest guy with the basketball we’ve had,” Jacobson said. “He’s a highly competitive guy. It’s been very good for our group. Guys have mentioned that our pickup games have been highly competitive and I think Wes has a lot to do with that.”
  • Wichita State’s Darius Carter, a junior transfer from Vincennes (Ind.), can play the post and power forward. Coach Gregg Marshall said Carter, 6-7, is more skilled than former Shocker Carl Hall, although not as strong. “Maybe more athletic,” Marshall said. “He’s fit in well. He looks to be a pretty talented player.”
  • Southern Illinois guard Desmar Jackson continues to frustrate coach Barry Hinson with his off-court habits. Jackson averaged 15.1 points last season, while living under regular threats of dismissal. He is back for a senior season and Hinson wants his responsibility to meet his talents. “He’s had a good summer so far, but he could go off-road on us in a heartbeat,” Hinson said. “He’s certainly our best talent.”