Year in and year out, the Stetson Hatters have struggled to gain any ground in the Atlantic Sun conference on the basketball court. The school is talented on the baseball diamond, which often overshadows any success the school has had on the hardwood.
The word “success” may not be the right word to use for some when talking about the Hatters, as the program has yet to make an NCAA Tournament in their history. However, the program made some positive steps towards a bright future in 2014-15.
The early part of the non-conference slate for the Hatters was nothing to be amazed about, as they didn’t score a win over a Division I team not named Florida A&M until Atlantic Sun play kicked off. They put together a rather impressive three-game winning streak at the end of January, knocking off Northern Kentucky, Lipscomb, and in-state rival Bethune-Cookman.
When all was said and done, Stetson finished the year with a 9 – 22 record overall, and a 3 – 11 record in conference play.
The records don’t shout positivity, but the players who they have on the court do. They had an underrated crop of talented freshmen last season who will only get better with time and more experience, and they will continue to develop in 2015-16.
With some talented pieces in place for the Hatters moving forward, let’s take a look at what their starting five could look like this season.
Guard: Divine Myles (Sophomore)
Before his freshman campaign, we were able to chat with Divine Miracle Myles about his recruiting process and his career in basketball before arriving at Stetson. Myles chose the Hatters over the likes of Auburn, Seton Hall, and other power programs, and he’s on his way to a great career in DeLand, FL. As a freshman, he averaged 11.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. He is a true point guard in the sense that he won’t blow you away with his scoring numbers, but he’s more than capable of running the offense and providing stability on the back end. Add in fellow point guard Angel Rivera, and the Hatters have an underrated rotation of guards at the 1-spot for the next three years, barring any transfers. Myles gets the nod over Rivera due to his better all-round game.
Guard: Cameron Harvey (Junior)
Harvey is one of the more experienced players on the Hatters’ roster for the 2015-16 season, and he will finally get his chance to show what he can do with major minutes on a consistent basis. Harvey appeared in all 31 games last season, and averaged 18.9 minutes per contest. In his limited action, Harvey averaged 5.0 points and 1.2 rebounds on 31.2% shooting and 33.0% shooting from three point range. With an increase in minutes, Harvey should elevate his production and help to move the Hatters out of the cellar in the Atlantic Sun.
Guard: Brian Pegg (Junior)
Standing at 6’7”, and equipped with an effective jumper and a shooting percentage above 50%, Brian Pegg is a matchup problem on a nightly basis for his opponents. While he doesn’t shoot from long distance, he has the ability to drive the lane and hit mid-range jumpers at a good clip. Last season, the Clearwater, FL native averaged just shy of 10 points per contest to go along with 5.4 rebounds per game. As a junior, he will be looked upon to provide the younger players wide guidance and leadership as the season progresses. With an increased leadership role should come a higher level of on-court production for Pegg.
Forward: Derrick Newton (Freshman)
Newton is a 2-star recruit, according to ESPN, but has the opportunity to come in and contribute right from the outset, much like Myles, Rivera and co. did last season. Standing at 6’7” and 210-pounds, he provides the front line with some much needed size. With broad shoulders and long arms, Newton uses his body to his advantage in the paint. He attacks the rim with high intensity, and has a nice shooting tough within 10-feet. He plays the game a little too straight up, so he will need to work on a few things if he wants to be successful at the next level. However, the addition of a player like Newton will go a long way for the Hatters next season, and hopefully beyond.
Forward: Kevin Ndahiro (Freshman)
With talented freshman Wyatt Sikora transferring from Stetson to Georgia Southern for the remainder of his collegiate career, a spot in the starting lineup opened up for the native of Ottawa, Ontario. Ndahiro redshirted for the 2014-15 season, and now has the opportunity to step in and contribute right away. Standing at 6’9”, he is currently the tallest player on Stetson’s roster for the 2015-16 season. He’s a big body who moves well and is an impact player in terms of rebounding.
With Sikora on the move to Georgia Southern, the depth of the Hatters took a big hit. Sikora had the potential to follow in the footsteps of his brother Kyle, and become an impact big man for the Hatters, but it wasn’t the right fit for him personally.
To replace Sikora, the Hatters have freshman Gabe Adesina coming in. While Adesina may not have the talents that Sikora, having another big man on the bench is definitely a positive.
We touched on Angel Rivera being the “back-up” point guard, and it’s tough to call a player of Rivera’s caliber a back-up player. Having two guards who are capable of starting is never a bad situation to find yourself in. Utilizing Myles and Rivera in a rotation may be the best thing for the Hatters. Go with the guy who is playing the best at the time, and things will work themselves out.
We saw that last season with Michigan State, when they started Lourawls Nairn over Travis Trice down the stretch, opting to go with a rotation of guards. Look where that got them. Now, I’m not saying the Hatters will make the Final Four, but going with a rotation does pay off.
The Hatters have another tough road ahead of them for the 2015-16 season. The team won’t turn itself around overnight, but they have a talented core group of players in place who are capable of taking more positive steps forward this season.
While the record may not reflect positive steps, fans have to look past the record and dig a little deeper to see that things may be on their way up for the Stetson Hatters.