Top Five Players in the Horizon League
Alex Brown decided to return to Wisconsin-Green Bay for his senior season. (Yahoo.com)
By Pat Folkerts
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
The Horizon League will be without arguably its two best players from 2012-13: Detroit’s Ray McCallum Jr. (NBA) and Valparaiso’s Ryan Broekhoff (graduation). Nevertheless, do not expect there to be much of a talent drop off in the conference. Here is an early look at the top 5 players for 2013-14:
5. Kelsey Barlow, SR. G, Illinois-Chicago. The Purdue transfer will suit up for the Flames this season after sitting out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules. In 2011-12, as a junior at Purdue, Barlow played in 26 games, making 22 starts. For the season he averaged 8.3 points on 42% shooting to go along with 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Barlow will be expected to shoulder the scoring load in the backcourt for the Flames who lose seniors Gary Talton (12.3 ppg) and Daniel Barnes (12.1ppg). However, look for Barlow’s greatest contribution to be on the defensive end. At 6’5, Barlow is a long, rangy defender capable of guarding positions 1-3. He should be one of the Horizon League’s top perimeter defenders for the 2013-14 season. Don’t forget, he is also capable of pulling off a highlight-reel play or two. In case you missed it check out his poster on Jared Sullinger: Video
4. Keifer Sykes, JR. G, Wisconsin-Green Bay. The 5’11 guard from Chicago, IL is capable of doing it all on the court. Sykes led the Phoenix in scoring and assists last season with 15.9 PPG and 4.3 APG. His explosive leaping ability also makes him a solid contributor on the glass from the point guard position, averaging 3.3 rebounds per game. Sykes uses his elite quickness to get in the paint with ease. What makes Sykes an elite talent is his ability to finish in traffic as well as use his court vision to find his open teammates. An All-Horizon League First Team performer last season, Sykes figures to be in the mix for the Horizon League Player of the Year award in 2013-14.
3. Alec Brown, SR. C, Wisconsin-Green Bay. The 7’1 center flirted with entering the 2013 NBA draft before ultimately deciding to return to UW-Green Bay for his senior season. As a Second Team All Horizon League performer last year, Brown averaged 14.1 PPG and 6 RPG. Brown shoots the ball extremely well for a player his size. In 2012-13, Brown shot an impressive 74.7% from the free-throw line and 43% from beyond the arc. With a 7’1 frame and legit 3-point shooting range, Brown certainly has the tools to compete at the next level, however, there are some aspects of his game that he will need to improve upon if he wants to hear his name called on NBA draft night. First of all, Brown needs to add muscle to his slender 235 pound build in order to hold his own as a center at the next level. Also, look for Brown to improve upon his less than impressive rebounding rate of 6 per game. Regardless, Brown and Sykes should be one of the best 1-2 punches in the Horizon League this upcoming season.
2. Travis Bader, SR. G, Oakland. Oakland enters its first year in the Horizon League with perhaps the conference’s most lethal scorer. Bader is a 6’5 two guard that can absolutely get buckets. In 2012-13 Bader averaged 22.1 PPG. Bader is a volume scorer that will put up a shot from just about anywhere within half court; last season he attempted an astonishing 11 3-pointers per game. Bader possesses a silky smooth shooting stroke and a quick release, placing him in the upper echelon of shooters in all of college basketball. Bader was also the national player of the week last season following his 47 point effort against IUPUI (1/24/13) in which he made 11 3-pointers. It is safe to expect Bader to be among the nation’s top scorers in 2013-14.
1. Kendrick Perry, SR. G, Youngstown State. The preseason top player in the Horizon League is yet another high-flying guard, Kendrick Perry. The Youngstown State senior has one of the most complete games in the country. In 2012-13 Perry posted impressive numbers of 17.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 4.1 APG. Perry can impact the game in many different ways; he is a willing and able passer, has a respectable outside shot, and can finish above the rim. Perry also is one of the top perimeter defenders in the Horizon League. He averaged just under 2 steals per game and was named a Horizon League First Team All Defense performer. Perry will be one of the most exciting players in the conference to watch in 2013-14 and is the top candidate to become the Horizon League Player of the Year.
Other to watch: Aaron Jordan, Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Corey Petros, Oakland; Charlie Lee, Cleveland St; Cole Darling, Wright St.