In 2015-16, the Little Rock Trojans underwent a rebrand in terms of their image and name off the court. On the court, they quickly emerged as one of the top mid-major teams in the country, and became one of America’s favourites in the process.
Their five losses were tied for the fewest in the entire NCAA last year. They won both the regular season and tournament Sun Belt titles, and advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament after a double-overtime win over the Purdue Boilermakers in Denver, CO.
Looking ahead to next season, the roster will be vastly different. Leading scorer Josh Hagins has graduated, along with Roger Woods, Daniel Green, and Jermaine Ruttley.
Now, you can add Mareik Isom to the list of players who won’t be back for the Trojans, as he has found his new home for the 2016-17 campaign.
Slowly but surely, the pieces have been falling into place for the recruiting class of 2016.
One by one, the top recruits in the country have made their final decision on where they will play their collegiate basketball next season. Some schools, like the Kentucky Wildcats or the Duke Blue Devils, have their fair share of top-tier recruits. Others, however, were hoping to land that one impact recruit that could change their season for the better.
On Friday, the Texas Longhorns landed their impact recruit.
Center Jarrett Allen was the last five-star prospect on the board who hadn’t chose his collegiate home. He is ranked as the top center in the Class of 2016 by ESPN.
He was relatively quiet during his recruiting process, although it was a well-known fact that there was an instate battle for the Austin, TX native between the Longhorns and the Houston Cougars.
After two seasons with the high-powered Michigan State Spartans, forward Javon Bess found himself somewhat lost in the rotation of forwards. Despite showing flashes of high-major abilities over his two years, he came off the bench more often than not.
So, Bess decided to transfer elsewhere.
Following the 2015-16 season, where the Spartans were upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, Bess announced his intentions to transfer.
In mid-May, it appeared that he had found his new home, as he committed to the Akron Zips. But, less than a month later, he has seemingly had a change of heart.
With the new NBA Draft rules, there were a number of underclassmen who declared early for the draft without signing with an agent. Players were able to go through the pre-draft process, and 70 players were invited to the NBA Draft Combine.
Depending on the feedback players heard, projections, and how the players felt in general, they were able to return to school if they so chose. The deadline to either sign with an agent or return to school was May 25th.
As the deadline came and went, several key players opted to return to school for another kick at the can in the NCAA. Some are back to improve their game with the hopes of becoming a lock for a first-round selection in future years, while others simply went through the process to get noticed and the experience.
The success for the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks during the 2014-15 season was well-documented. Their 18-wins were more than they had in the previous three years combined, and they were invited to the 2015 CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Their success led to an increase in optimism heading into the 2015-16 campaign, which was Bobby Collins‘ second as the head coach of the team. Forward Michael Myers, a CCR Mid-Major All-American following the 2014-15 season, was the only notable player to be gone from the roster. So, the Hawks were flying high in advance of the 2015-16 season.
What goes up, must come down.
Instead of building off of their success, the Hawks fell flat in 2015-16, struggling out of the gate and never being able to recreate the magic from the previous year. The Hawks won just once in their first 11 games, and were never able to dig themselves out of the hole they dug for themselves.