SARNIA, Ont. — The Big Sky Conference has undergone some big changes this off-season.
For starters, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks are now officially members of the Summit League, leaving the Big Sky Conference after the 2017-18 season. North Dakota’s departure now puts the Big Sky at 11 teams for the upcoming season.
Many of the remaining teams will also look considerably different, as star players from across the league have moved on in their careers. Whether it was due to graduation or transfer, some familiar names have left the Big Sky Conference. With that said, there are now plenty of opportunities for new players to become the faces of the conference, and there are plenty of candidates around the league.
There are still star players in the league, but the Big Sky is home to some talented players who have flown under the radar so far in their respective careers. One in particular put up massive numbers a season ago, but barely grabbed attention from the national media.
Here are 10 returning players who will be names to know this season in the Big Sky Conference.
Flagstaff, AZ — Losing your top four scorers from a season before is a tough obstacle to overcome, no matter who you are.
When it’s a smaller program from a smaller conference, it becomes more of a notable issue moving towards the following season.
That’s the position that the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks find themselves in heading into the 2017-18 season. The Lumberjacks are coming off a season in which they finished the season with a record of 9-23 overall, and were eight games off of the lead in the Big Sky Conference, finishing in 10th with a 6 – 12 record.
With their losses, there isn’t much of a buzz around the Lumberjacks program on a national level this season. However, that shouldn’t be the case. While the team may be young, the foundation has been set for the program to take another step forwards in 2017-18.
With the exhibition season in full swing, and coming to a close early this week, that can mean only one thing.
The 2016-17 college basketball regular season is just around the corner!
Things get underway Friday, November 11th at Noon EST with the first regular season game of the season, and there will be a plethora of talent on display across all 32 conferences all season long.
Before the season gets started, we decided to hand out some preseason hardware, in the form of our Conference Player of the Year award and All-Conference Teams.
Along with that, we have the College Court Report All-Americans, and the Mid-Major Player of the Year Preseason Watch List. Links to all of the conference awards and the Watch List can be found at the bottom of each article.
Division I men’s basketball is composed of 351 teams, meaning that there are more than 4,000 players in the country (based on an approximation of 12 players per roster x 351 teams = 4,212). With this, many of the standout talents excel on the courts and can remain relatively anonymous.
For players at smaller schools, it usually takes a Herculean performance in the regular season, or a splash in the NCAA Tournament, to garner any sort of regular attention on the national stage.
They put up better stat lines than many players who play at some of the power conferences, albeit against weaker competition, but it’s as though these players don’t exist until they do something “big”.
One would call these so-called underrated players stars of the mid-major conferences. Just because they play in smaller conferences doesn’t mean they don’t have the talents to succeed and play at a high level.