As the 2015-16 Memphis Tigers men’s basketball season draws closer ahead of Friday’s exhibition against LeMoyne-Owen College, the Tigers will hope to bounce back from a disappointing 2014-15 campaign.
One way to increase the chances of a bounce back season would be to shoot a higher percentage from the three-point line. The Tigers return a squad that finished the season with a 32.8 percent three-point shooting average in 2014-2015, good for 241st in the country and the Tigers tied for fifth in conference play with UCF in three-point shooting.
Tigers’ leading three-point shooter junior Avery Woodson (37.7 percent) will be the team’s go-to long-range shooter this season, especially with senior Kedren Johnson (35.3 percent) battling a right shoulder injury that could require surgery. With Johnson possibly facing season-ending shoulder surgery, the Tigers will miss one of its top two long-range bombers in 2015-2016.
Aside from Woodson and Johnson, Memphis returns four players from last year’s squad who earned playing time, with redshirt-sophomore Markel Crawford the only returnee to average more than 30 percent from downtown (30.1 percent at a minimum of 10 attempts). Seniors Trahson Burrell and Shaq Goodwin, two of Memphis’ other returnees, each averaged under-30 percent from three (Goodwin is utilized in the post rather than the perimeter while Burrell is more of a slasher) while senior Jake McDowell went 1-for-2 from downtown.
To compensate for the Tigers’ depleted men’s basketball roster, coach Josh Pastner and his staff signed 10 newcomers for the upcoming season (eight freshmen and two seniors). Of the eight freshman, two (Dedric Lawson and Randall Broddie) are players from the 2016 recruiting class who reclassified to 2015 and enrolled at the university in the summer of 2015.
Out of the 10 newcomers to the team, there are six perimeter players: freshmen Dante Scott, Jeremiah Martin, Broddie, Craig Randall, Raquan Mitchell and senior Ricky Tarrant. Tarrant, the only graduate transfer of the six guards, could be a major contributor for the Tigers in the upcoming season, including from long-range.
Tarrant, who starred for Alabama before suffering a season-ending foot injury on January 27 against Florida, averaged 13.1 points-per-game and 1.4 steals-per-game. Although the guard averaged 29.9 percent from three for the Crimson Tide, the former C-USA Freshman of the Year award winner from Tulane hit 123 three-pointers during his career at Tulane, good for eighth all-time in school history.
Another newcomer who could be a threat from downtown is freshman Craig Randall. Randall, who transferred to Shadow Mountain High School his senior year and starred under former University of Arizona standout Mike Bibby, shot 35.3 percent from the three-point line. The No. 1 rated high school player in the state of Arizona according to ESPN.com could be an underrated threat from downtown if the freshman could see some playing time.
Two other highly rated and versatile newcomers that could be a surprising threat from deep, if they can get looks from downtown, are freshmen K.J. and Dedric Lawson. The Lawsons, who are both top-50 recruits according to ESPN.com, are both long players with good ball handling. While Dedric played in the post for Hamilton High School, K.J. saw a lot of time on the perimeter where the small forward shot 43 percent from deep.
Memphis and LeMoyne-Owen will play 8 p.m. Friday at FedExForum. The Tigers then open the season against Southern Miss, also at home, Nov. 14.
Tiger guard Avery Woodson led Memphis with 32 three-pointers made and three-point percentage (38 percent) last season.