Busting Brackets

Atlantic 10 Basketball: 2024 Offseason Pressure Index for each team

Saint Joseph's v Seton Hall
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Returning: F Reed Bailey, F Bobby Durkin, G Hunter Adam, C Sean Logan
Pressure Index: 4/10

It's been rough sledding so far for Davidson in the second era of the McKillop Dynasty. The Wildcats still retain the excellent core principles of years past, but a pair of unfortunate injuries (Foster Loyer in 2023/David Skogman in 2024) and an overall lack of quality shooters led to program's worst two year stretch since joining the A-10. Now, some major graduations and the exit of last year's biggest pickup point to a reset around the rapidly improving Reed Bailey. It's an interesting offseason in terms of what Davidson's strategy will be, as a tough admissions department hangs over their head in the transfer market, and the international recruiting trail that was always so kind is now overcrowded by other teams looking to save some NIL dollars.

Ideal Target: Conor Enright (Drake, 2). Enright's stat line screams Davidson player. Playing both on and off the ball next to Drake's superstar Tucker DeVries, he racked up 3.2 assists per game last year to pair with a dynamite 44% from deep. He would provide an immediate playmaking replacement for Grant Huffman and give the Wildcats a knock down shooter. And they better find at least three of those this spring.

George Washington
Returning: F Darren Buchanan Jr, F Garrett Johnson, G Jacoi Hutchinson, G Trey Autry
Pressure Index: 4/10

George Washington is coming off a last-place season and has officially moved on from the full starting five of their surprising 2023 season. Yet, the returning group of to-be sophomores has a core three worth building around. And while Darren Buchanan Jr and Garrett Johnson both still have three years remaining, that duo is special enough together to drive the desire to try and build a contender around them immediately. Ideally, the Revolutionaries will find a few other young players to grow alongside those two and Jacoi Hutchinson, but last season they would have benefitted from a few older role players, especially a defender or two and maybe a backup point guard.

Ideal Target: Aubin Grateretse (Stetson, 1). One can dream about the absolute perfect center to pair with Johnson and Buchanan, a floor spacer to let Buchanan play the 5 offensively, while protecting the rim on the other side, a Brook Lopez archetype if you will. Unfortunately, what few of those players exist are at the top of everyone's recruiting board. To find the last time one of those guys was in the A-10, you probably have to go all the way back to Peyton Aldridge at Davidson. So you look for a guy who's elite at one end, as Grateretse is protecting the rim. Certainly doesn't hurt that he also led the nation in effective field goal percentage and would wreak absolute havoc in the paint like Buchanan.

Returning: G Rashool Diggins, G Jaylen Curry, G Jayden Ndjigue, F Daniel Hankins-Sanford, G Marqui Worthy
***F Matt Cross has an available Covid year
Pressure Index: 8/10

Why is the pressure so high for a team with a very young core and a coach with contract security, coming off a top four finish? Because this is the final time that Frank Martin has the recruiting weapon of playing in a multi-bid league. Thanks to a decade of struggles and an arena that looks real bad on tv, that's his best weapon besides selling himself (and possibly decent NIL). The backcourt is just about set and if UMass can land a few quality forwards and the low post threat that Martin wants to play through, then the Minutemen could be a serious threat in the A-10 (especially if Matt Cross returns) and have some serious momentum heading into the MAC. If the year sputters out, it may lead to mass exodus of talent who don't want to play for a team that isn't bringing a core that could potentially dominate in their new league.

Ideal Target: AJ Braun (Wright St, 1). Josh Cohen reminded us what Martin's offense looks like with a stud back to the basket scorer, and while Daniel Hankins-Sanford is A-10 starter quality, that's not his skillset. Enter the nation's field goal percentage leader in the 6'9" Braun, who also carries an excellent 37.2% free throw rate. And just like Cohen, he struggles once he gets to the line.

Rhode Island
Returning: F David Fuchs, G Cam Estevez, G Always Wright
***G Jaden House, G Luis Kortright, F David Green, F Josaphat Bilau have an available Covid year
Pressure Index: 7/10

It looked like Rhode Island might have been starting over for a third straight year when half the roster immediately sprinted to the transfer portal. But with Fuchs and Estevez returning for their second season and the current murmur being that House, Kortright and Green all intend to use their extra year, the Rams have kept all of the quality building blocks they had. However, the roster remains devoid of a go-to guy on either end of the court and still doesn't have a clear identity. So the heat is on for Archie Miller (who still hasn't made an NCAA Tournament since leaving Dayton in 2017) to raise the ceiling of next year's team and return to the top half of the A-10.

Ideal Target: DJ Burns (Youngstown St, 1). Rhode Island has not been connected to Burns (no relation to the NC St center bearing the same name) and most of their list is scoring guards, as they clearly want to replace the offensive bursts from Zek Montgomery. But what the Rams need more than anything is a versatile forward who can lead their defense. Burns was an All-Defense Team honoree and the key to the Penguins' Horizon League-best interior defense.