CAA Preview: Drexel Dragons

drexelBy: Jeremy Leopold (@Jeremyleopold)

Head Coach: Zach Spiker (1st season)

Last Season: 6-25  (3-15 CAA, 9th place)

Departures:  

  • G Tavon Allen (13.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg) 
  • G Terrell Allen (9.8 ppg, 3.5 apg, CAA All-Rookie Team)
  • F Kazembe Abif (9.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
  • G Ahmad Fields
  • G Chandler Fraser- Pauls
  • G Rashann London (7.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg)

Newcomers:

  • G Kirk Lee (St. Frances Academy/Baltimore, MD)
  • F Sam Green (Bishop McNamara/Bowie, MD)
  • F Jeremy Peck (St. Thomas/Houston, TX)
  • G Kari Jonsson (Flensborg/Iceland)
  • G Troy Harper (Neumann Goretti, Philadelphia, PA)
  • G Tramaine Isabell (Garfield/Seattle, WA)

For the first time in 15 seasons the Dragons will be without Head Coach James “Bruiser” Flint roaming the sidelines. After Drexel’s star Damion Lee transferred to Louisville for the 2015-2016 season, Flint had an inexperienced team without any star power. His squad finished second to last in the CAA and Flint, who went 245-217 at Drexel with no NCAA tournament appearances, was fired.

New head coach Zach Spiker will inherit a team that got killed on the glass last season, finishing dead last in team rebounding and rebounding margin in the CAA. The Dragons also couldn’t score, finishing only ahead of defensive minded College of Charleston in points per game. It won’t help that Drexel is losing over 63% of their scoring contribution from last year: a combination of graduation and a number players transferring after Flint’s departure. Leading scorer Tavon Allen (13.1 ppg) and leading rebounder Kazembe Abif (7.0 rpg) both graduated, and breakout freshman Terrell Allen (9.8 ppg), who looked poised to become an upper echelon player in the CAA, transferred to the University of Central Florida.

Spiker comes in after seven seasons at Army where he compiled a 102-112 record, never finishing higher than 4th in the Patriot League. His final season at West Point was his best. Army went 19-14 (9-9 in the Patriot League) and finished 4th, making an appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) where they were bounced in the first round. Spiker’s Black Knights excelled last season in the areas where Drexel struggled, ranking in the top 30 in the nation in rebounding and three-pointers made per game. He also ran an up-tempo offense with 75.4 possessions per game, making the Black Knights one of the faster teams in the nation.

After four seasons at Army, Zach Spiker will take the reigns with his up-tempo approach. (Image Credit: Philly.com)
After seven seasons at Army, Zach Spiker will take the reigns with his up-tempo approach. (Image Credit: Philly.com)

While the Dragons likely won’t be good next year, there is some hope. After a solid freshman campaign in 2013-2014, junior G Major Canady has the makings of a really good player in the CAA. He was bit by the injury bug the past two seasons with an ankle injury keeping him out of the entire 2014-2015 campaign and a knee injury sidelining him last year. According to the team’s website, the redshirt junior should be healthy and ready to contribute this year.

While Canady holds down the backcourt, he will get frontcourt help from Rodney Williams. The 6’7” senior was second on the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 10.5 points per game and 5.6 boards per game.  

Kurk Lee is likely the only freshman to make an impact this season. He is a smaller guard at just 5’10, but had all-around success in high schoo,l averaging 16.4 points, 5.8 assists, and 6.6 rebounds as a senior at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. Lee also has family ties to the CAA and NBA. His father, Kurk Sr., played at Towson and is sixth on the Tigers career-scoring list. After his Career at Towson, Lee went to on to play one season for the New Jersey Nets.

Missouri transfer Tramaine Isabell will have to sit out this season, but look for him to make a major impact in the 2017-2018 season after averaging 6.2 points per game and 1.7 rebounds in the SEC a season ago.

Bottom Line: There isn’t much talent on this Dragon roster. Spiker will need to work miracles with Canady, Williams, and 6’9” forward Mohamed Bah to even have a chance at cracking the top-five in the CAA. Best-case scenario is Canady turns into a superstar while Williams and Bah clean up the glass and Drexel sneaks into the top-5 in a down year for the CAA. Realistically, neither of the bigs did much last year to help Drexel’s rebounding woes and Canady hasn’t played college basketball in two years. More likely than not, Spiker’s fast paced style will be fun to watch, but expect Drexel to fight with Delaware to stay out of the CAA cellar.  

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