Considering the transition amongst the CAA’s membership this offseason it’s a little difficult to pick breakout candidates. While Georgia State and Old Dominion both had some logical choices, the rest of the CAA brings back a ton of talent (see our first and second teams), leaving little opportunity for someone to break through.
Here though are a few players that could make a bigger than expected impact on the CAA race this season, including two newcomers – either thanks to realignment or transfers.
Adjehi Baru (Charleston) – At first this seems like an awfully conservative choice considering Baru averaged 9.7 PPG and 8.3 RPG last season, but he is going to be a dominant force in the CAA this season. The 6’9” junior forward is a former top recruit. His athleticism has been on display since the beginning, but Baru has also worked hard on his game. He should get even more national recognition and averaging a double-double isn’t out of the question. While Baru’s free throw percentage probably won’t jump by almost 15 percentage points this season, if he can make a few more baskets in the paint he’s going to be amongst the national leaders in efficiency.
Dylan Sherwood (UNCW) – Last season Sherwood, a redshirt sophomore, finally got the opportunity to show what he could do, but in very limited minutes (6.4 MPG). He had an offensive rating above 100 and a 16.4% possession percentage. Sherwood is 6’9”, but he’s shown the ability to step out to the three-point line (8-27, 30%) and hit free throws. Now that Keith Rendleman has graduated there should be some more playing time available in the paint and Sherwood might be poised to take a big step forward.
Zach Stahl (Northeastern) – As a freshman Stahl played 16.7 MPG and averaged 5.7 PPG, including scoring in double-figures six times during the season. A 6’5” swingman it looks like he might be ready to take on a bigger load. Last season Stahl had an offensive rating of 101.1 and also used 19.7% of possession while on the court. A few more minutes at a similar workload could see him transform into a double-digit scorer. Since Stahl shot 88% from the free throw line last season the guess here is that his 35% shooting from three (on only 17 attempts) wasn’t a fluke and he’d be able to take advantage of more playing time and help the Huskies space the floor this season.
Four McGlynn (Towson) – This is a little bit of cheating, because McGlynn is a transfer from Vermont who had to sit out last season. This is more to emphasize the point though that the CAA doesn’t have too many young guards with great potential. McGlynn is a sharpshooter. He was the America East Rookie of the Year in 2012-13 and scored 12.0 PPG. McGlynn shot 38% from three during his freshman season at Vermont, so don’t give him an inch of space around the perimeter. Given an opportunity on a loaded Towson team expect McGlynn to pick up right where he left off and be one of the more dynamic scorers in the CAA.
(Another transfer not included on this list but destined to make a big impact is Scott Eatherton at Northeastern. The 6’8” transfer from St. Francis (PA) is an efficient big man who should continue to thrive in the CAA.)
Tavon Allen (Drexel) – A redshirt sophomore, Allen should benefit from the Dragons’ offense opening up a bit more this season. The ambidextrous forward had a 94.8 offensive rating last season on 27.8% usage, due in most part to shooting 38% on two-point attempts. When Allen came to Drexel scouting reports noted his inability to finish near the rim, even at 6’7”. If he can improve a little bit then he can be a major force, especially considering he’s shown the ability to step out and knock down the three (36% in 69 attempts last season). A little more playing time and some better scoring near the rim could make Allen into a consistent double-digit scorer and a dangerous wing complement to Drexel’s guard-based attack.
(Note: Before Andre Nation’s legal trouble he was certainly considered for this list.)
Who did we miss? Is there a player that you think is ready to take over the CAA?