2020-21 AAC basketball preview

AAC basketball will be a multi-bid league again this year. There was so much excitement for Memphis last season. It had the No. 1 recruit and the best recruiting class in the county. Then James Wiseman was suspended. Then he wasn’t. Finally he was for a month or so. But he decided it wasn’t worth coming back. Memphis was hanging on by a thread for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. In the end, it didn’t matter. What does matter is the Tigers are returning three of their top recruits, including a big-time transfer who will be eligible this season, Landers Nolley II along with a former top-100 recruit, transfer from Florida Isaiah Stokes. Memphis also has two of the best bench players, Alex Lomax and Lance Thomas.

Houston will be a top-25 team again. The Cougars have three starters returning along with great bench players from last season in Caleb Mills and DeJon Jarreau. One minute Cincinnati looks good. The next minute it doesn’t. it will be in contention for the NCAA Tournament again with Keith Williams and Chris Vogt, but its depth will be an issue. SMU is certainly a favorite among a lot of people. It returns four starters. Tyson Jolley, Kendrick Davis and Feron Hunt are some of the best in the conference. South Florida looks good every preseason, but we’ll see if guys can actually stay on the court.

Despite all the departures, I was beginning to like Wichita State. UConn transfer Alterique Gilbert is going to fit in nice with its three-point shooters in Tyson Etienne and Dexter Dennis. But then Gregg Marshall was canned, and the Shockers could be in for a dark season. Who knows if they’ll even be eligible for the NCAA Tournament. A sneaky good team that isn’t a household name in the AAC is East Carolina. Jayden Gardner could lead the conference in scoring. The Pirates have two great point guards and return all five starters. If you want a dark horse that could be another Tulsa, East Carolina is your team.

I couldn’t quite fit SMU in my preseason bracketology, but I truly feel the Mustangs will be in the field in March. The minimum should be three for the conference with the max being six.

Preseason predictions

1 Memphis
2 Houston
4 Cincinnati
5 South Florida
6 East Carolina
8 Tulsa
9 Wichita State
10 Tulane
11 Temple

First team

G Quentin Grimes, Houston
G Kendrick Davis, SMU
F Landers Nolley II, Memphis
F Jayden Gardner, East Carolina
C Chris Vogt, Cincinnati

Second team

G Tyson Jolley, SMU
G Lester Quinones, Memphis
F Collin Smith, UCF
F Alexis Yetna, USF
F Keith Williams, Cincinnati

Usually I like doing three teams and you’ll see three teams for most of the conferences, but I couldn’t do three teams for the AAC. After these 10 guys, it’s so water downed. There were more than five guys that all looked the same, so I kept it to two teams. These are the 10 best players in the AAC and that’s all you need to know.

Player of the Year

Landers Nolley II,F, Memphis

Photo courtesy of SMU Athletics

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