The 2019-20 AAC talent pool is loaded. Andy Katz pinpoints the conference’s five most important players for the upcoming college basketball season below.
1.) James Wiseman, 7-1, Fr., Memphis: The No. 1 player in the class of 2019 has a chance to be a national player of the year candidate. The expectations are extremely high in Memphis. If Penny Hardaway is going to have a magical season then he will need Wiseman to live up to his hype. He could produce an Anthony Davis-like season when Davis led Kentucky to a title in 2012. That’s asking a lot for a young team. The Tigers still need to get through a rugged schedule and ascend to the top of the AAC and hold off Houston, Cincinnati, South Florida and UConn.
2.) Jarron Cumberland, 6-5, Sr., Cincinnati: Cumberland decided to come back to the Bearcats, which gives new coach John Brennan a chance to chase an AAC title in his first season replacing Mick Cronin. Cumberland will likely be ‘Mr. Everything’ for the Bearcats. His playmaking, scoring, shooting and passing will be on display throughout the season. He’s a legit near 20-point scorer, who could lead the Bearcats in every major statistical category.
3.) Alexis Yetna, 6-8, So., South Florida: Yetna was just shy of being a double-double producer this past season for the Bulls. USF, which won the CBI, has a real shot to be this season’s UCF — a rising story out of the AAC and into the NCAA tournament. The return of Yetna with experienced guards David Collins and LaQuincy Rideau gives the Bulls a shot to be in the top four and ultimately earn a bid. But Yetna must be the anchor inside for this to occur.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL RANKINGS: Andy Katz gives his preseason Power 36 rankings, as of late May
4.) Dexter Dennis, 6-5, So., Wichita State: Dennis has the potential to be the next NBA player out of this program in due time. But before he gets to that point, he needs to be the go-to guard for the Shockers. Wichita State should rebound after a brief one-season hiatus and be back in the NCAA tournament. Dennis ended the season on a high note with 17 points against Indiana in the NIT and 13 in a loss to Lipscomb in New York. He averaged nearly six boards a game and his scoring should top double figures on a regular basis.
5.) Alterique Gilbert, 6-0, Jr., UConn: Gilbert has had an injury-riddled career with the Huskies. But he had some moments last season where it was clear that, if he stays healthy, he can be an impact player. He averaged a dozen points for the Huskies in 25 games. But it was games like scoring 16, dishing out eight assists and committing just three turnovers in a win against Syracuse that show his true potential. The Huskies have a shot to be an NCAA tournament team under Dan Hurley. But for that to happen, Gilbert must be a major factor.