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2023-24 Atlantic 10 Preview Part Three: The Contenders

The Atlantic 10 Conference experienced a down season in 2022-23 with only one team, the VCU Rams, making it to the NCAA Tournament. Last season saw the emergence of teams like Fordham and Duquesne while perennial top-half finishers Davidson and St. Bonaventure struggled.

The 2023-24 rendition of the A10 will be split into three distinct categories: the contenders, the pretenders and the bottom feeders. The time has finally come to rank the contenders. Three of these six schools are right where you would expect them to be, while a pair of upstart programs and the newest Atlantic 10 program crack the top six.



Projected A10 record: 11-7

VCU enters the season as the reigning Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament champions. The Rams’ 15-3 record was three games better than second place Fordham, Dayton and Saint Louis. However, VCU is in the same situation as George Mason. The Rams lost head coach Mike Rhoades to Penn State along with 2022-23 A10 player of the year Ace Baldwin and role player Nick Kern.

Those were not the only departures for VCU, though. Brandon Johns Jr., Jalen Deloach, Jamir Watkins, Jayden Nunn and David Shriver all moved on to other places. That left the Rams with one player, Zeb Jackson, who played in every game last season while averaged more than 8.5 minutes (17.6 MPG) and five points per game (5.2 PPG).

New head coach Ryan Odom takes over the program after a pair of successful seasons at Utah State. Odom brings in seven transfers, including three from his former employer, and two freshmen to the program. Jason Nelson, Sean Bairstow, Max Shulga and Kuany Kuany should all make immediate impacts to the Ram lineup.

Nelson comes to VCU from cross-city rivals Richmond, where he averaged eight points per game, while Bairstow transfers to VCU with his coach from Utah State. As an Aggie, the 6’8’’ small forward scored 10.3 points per game while grabbing 5.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists last season. Shulga also comes to VCU from Utah State, where the guard averaged 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game in 2022-23. Finally, Kuany stands at 6’9’’ and scored 9.0 points per game last year at Cal. While it will be a new-look VCU squad, the Rams always find a way to put a quality roster together and contend every year.



Projected A10 record: 12-6

Loyola’s inaugural season in the Atlantic 10 did not go as planned, as the

Ramblers finished last in the conference at 4-14. While it looked ugly in 2022-23, struggling the first year after jumping into a better conference is normal. Head coach Drew Valentine did not suffer many losses to his roster following the rough season. Marquise Kennedy and Bryce Golden will be the only losses of substance for the Ramblers. Kennedy averaged 7.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in 2022-23, while Golden averaged 5.7 points and 3.0 boards last year.

Valentine and his staff brough in four transfers and three freshmen to the program over the summer. All four new additions should see significant playing time in a rotation that remained mostly intact from last season. Des Watson comes to Loyola from Davidson, where he averaged 9.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in 2022-23. Patrick Mwamba transfers in from Oral Roberts via way of the Congo. The 6’7’’ forward averaged 7.9 points and 5.4 boards per game last season.

Greg Dolan and Dame Adelekun will be the players Rambler fans should be most excited about. Dolan scored 13.3 points per game last season to go along with 3.6 rebounds at Cornell. Adelekun was statistically the best of the group as he averaged 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He will provide matchup nightmares for most of the conference, as he stands at 6’8’’ and 230 pounds. The influx of transfers mixed with a roster with a year at the next level under its belt will make Loyola Chicago a dangerous team this season.



Projected A10 record: 13-5

The Dukes shocked everyone last season with a 20-win campaign and an 10-8 Atlantic 10 record. While head coach Keith Dambrot lost six impact players, he managed to keep his top two scorers and best players from 2022-23. Some notable departures from the program are Joe Reece, Rodney Gunn Jr. and Tevin Brewer. Reece averaged 9.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game while Gunn Jr. scored 9.1 points and 3.4 boards per game. Brewer was a solid player for the Dukes as well, averaging 7.5 points per game. Role players Kevin Easley, Quincy McGriff and Austin Rotroff also left Duquesne.

Dambrot and his staff will welcome four transfers and six freshmen into the program this season. All four transfers appear poised to see significant playing time at Duquesne this winter. Dusan Mahorcic joins the Dukes as his sixth school in as many years. The Serbian was most recently at North Carolina State where he averaged 8.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game before blowing out his knee only 10 games into the season.

The Drame twins also enter Dambrot’s program after spending the 2022-23 season at La Salle. Hassan averaged 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game with the Explorers last season. Fousseyni had the better statistical season compared to his brother as he scored 8.8 points per game while hauling in 5.3 boards. The final, and likely most impactful, new face at Duquesne is Andrei Savrasov. The Russian native comes from Georgia Southern where his 6’7’’ frame helped him average 14.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season.

The Dukes have built a solid squad with a ton of depth entering the season and will continue its 2022-23 success. The Dukes secure the first of four coveted double-bye spots in the A10 Tournament.



Projected A10 record: 13-5

Fordham surprised the conference last season with a 12-6 conference record and a second-place finish in the Atlantic 10 standings. Darius Quisenberry and Khalid Moore led the way with 16.9 and 15.7 points per game, respectively. Moore also averaged a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game. Major role player and part-time starter Rostyslav Novitskyi also departed, which leaves a 6.9 point and 4.5 rebound per game hole to fill. Fortunately for the Rams, those are the only three regulars the team lost this summer.

Head coach Keith Urgo brought three transfers and three freshmen into the program to help support the four rotation pieces that remained from last season. Returning to the Rams this season are key pieces Kyle Rose (7.3 PPG), Antrell Charlton (7.3 PPG), Will Richardson (6.6 PPG) and Abdou Tsimbila (5.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG). Of the three transfers, two appear poised to enter Urgo’s regular rotation. Japhet Medor averaged 13.7 points and 3.8 assists per game at UTSA last season while Joshua Rivera scored 10.6 points and brought down 5.3 boards per game at Lafayette in 2022-23. The Rams are going to once again be deep with scoring coming from all over the floor. The only thing Urgo will need to find is someone to step up and take the on-court lead in scoring.



Projected A10 record: 14-4

The St. Bonaventure program has done a complete 180 from where it stood before last season. The Bonnies entered 2022-23 having lost 99.9% of its scoring from the previous season. Having a new team last season showed, as the Bonnies did not live up to some in-house expectations by going 8-10 in the conference and bowing out in their first A10 Tournament game. 2023-24 is a new season, where St. Bonaventure’s top six players will return with a year of experience together.

Mark Schmidt and his staff went out and got three transfers and three freshmen to completely remake the support staff for his remaining players. Noel Brown comes from George Washington, where he played in a backup center role that is much needed for this Bonnies team. Mika Adams-Woods comes to Bona's from Cincinnati, where he was a four-year starter and averaged 9.1 points and 3.2 assists per game last season. He should provide a much-needed rotation piece for Schmidt and his staff.

The final and most impactful transfer for the Bonnies is Charles Pride. The graduate student averaged 14.6 points per game last season while starting 97 of 112 games in his four years at Bryant. Pride also brings NCAA Tournament experience to a team looking to make a splash this season. These additions will help the remaining 2022-23 players, Daryl Banks III, Chad Venning, Kyrell Luc, Moses Flowers, Yann Farell and Barry Evans, reach the expectations they had a year ago.



Projected A10 record: 15-3

The Flyers went all the way to the Atlantic 10 Championship game last season but fell short against VCU. Fortunately for the Flyers, star forward DaRon Holmes II returned to the program. Holmes is primed to be this season’s A10 Player of the Year, as many experts project him to be a first-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. Head coach Anthony Grant will also have starters Kobe Elvis, Malachi Smith and Koby Brea returning to the roster to help support his superstar.

While Dayton kept a handful of quality talent, the Flyers also lost some of their regulars from last season. The biggest losses were Toumani Camara and Mustapha Amzil. Camara averaged 13.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, while Amzil scored 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season. The Flyers also lost R.J. Blakney and Mike Sharavjamts, who each played in at least 30 games in 2022-23.

Anthony Grant and staff went out and grabbed five transfers to go along with six new freshmen, completely remaking the bottom half of the program. Of the five transfers, Javon Bennett, Enoch Cheeks and CJ Napier appear primed to make the largest impacts. Bennett comes to Dayton from Merrimack, where he averaged 9.6 points and 3.4 assists per game in 2022-23. His 99 steals were also the most in Divison 1. Cheeks played at Robert Morris, where he averaged 15.4 points per game last season and should help replace the production that departed the program over the summer. Napier averaged 17.1 points per game over his 75 career games at Ohio Northern University, making him an intriguing piece for Grant’s staff.

Other names to keep an eye on are 6-foot-6, 220-pound freshman Jaiun Simon along with 6’11’’ transfer Isaac Jack, who played last season at the University of Buffalo. With Holmes averaging more than 18 points last season and Malachi Smith primed to take another step forward, the Flyers are going to be one of the best teams in the A10 this season. Anything short of an Atlantic 10 Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance should be a failed season for the Flyers.

Read Part Two of our Atlantic 10 preview here.

Read Part One of our Atlantic 10 preview here.

Follow Michael Seitz on Twitter here.



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