Year after year, teams enter the Sun Belt Conference as the pre-season favourite, and year after year the race for the conference title turns into a crap shoot.
Two seasons ago, the Georgia State Panthers entered the year as clear-cut favourites to win the Sun Belt title. As we all know, the title wasn’t in the cards. The Panthers lost to the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette in the Sun Belt tournament finals.
Georgia State made it back to the NCAA Tournament in 2014-15, avoiding any further upsets for the pre-season favourite.
On Saturday afternoon, the aforementioned Ragin’ Cajuns find themselves in a position that Georgia State knows all too well: pre-season Sun Belt favourite. The school was awaiting the decision of junior forward Shawn Long, who was predicted by many to be an NBA Draft pick in the upcoming draft. While Long was aware of the possibilities, he opted to return to school for his senior season, making the Ragin’ Cajuns a legitimate mid-major threat in the process.Long, a 6’9”, 245-pound forward out of Morgan City, LA, opted to return to school because he felt that it gave him the best chance for a lengthy and successful NBA career.
Last season, Long averaged 16.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, while shooting a career-best 54.2% from the field. He earned All-Sun Belt team honours after his stellar season.
In each of his three seasons with UL-Lafayette, Shawn Long has averaged at least 15.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest, which is part of what has NBA scouts and executives excited about his NBA potential.
Long has shown brief flashes of being able to step out and shoot the long ball, as he shot 36.4% from deep in 2014-15. His ability to stretch the defense will help him as he progresses in his career.
With his return, the Ragin’ Cajuns look to be the team to beat in the Sun Belt Conference for the 2015-16 season. Look for Long to have another big season as he looks to solidify his draft stock ahead of the 2016 NBA Draft.