CAA Preview: College of Charleston Cougars

charlestonBy: Justin Littman (@JLitt_Man)

Head Coach: Earl Grant (3rd Season)

Last season: 17-14 (CAA: 8-10), 7th Place

Losses: 

  • G Canyon Barry (19.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg in 13 games)
  • F Donovan Gilmore
  • F Harrison Bowne 
  • F James Bourne (3.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
  • G Tim Branin 

Newcomers: 

  • F Chevez Goodwin (Hammond School/Columbia, SC)
  • G Brevin Galloway (Seneca/Anderson, SC)
  • F Jaylen McManus (North Mecklenberg/Charlotte, SC)
  • F/C Osinachi Smart (New Garden Friends School/Nigeria)

Last season was quite the roller coaster for the College of Charleston in Earl Grant’s second season at the helm. The Cougars, led by star guard Canyon Barry, started the season 9-3. They entered conference play with plenty of momentum, but it all came to a screeching halt when Barry suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during a game at William & Mary.

The Cougars took a step back, but continued to battle with a very young roster. They locked in defensively, and at one point played 14 consecutive conference games without allowing 70 points in a contest. They lost only one conference game by double digits, and Coach Grant established the foundation for one of the best scoring defenses in the entire nation.

Though Barry chose to leave Charleston as a graduate transfer, the Cougars will return this year with much of the same young roster and an established identity. Coming off a campaign where he was named CAA Freshman of the Year, forward Jarell Brantley will provide the Cougars with some size on the interior. He averaged over 11 points and 7 rebounds per game as a freshman, and he should take another step forward during his sophomore season. He will likely play big minutes in the frontcourt with 6’10”, 255-pound sophomore forward Nick Harris. Harris only played 19 minutes per game as a freshman, but shot over 50% from the field. If he can stay out of foul trouble, he will be another big contributor.

In the backcourt, look for guards Cameron Johnson (All-CAA Third Team) and Marquise Pointer (All-CAA Rookie Team) to continue to provide energy for the College of Charleston on both ends of the floor. They are pure athletes who have the ability to stay with anyone on the defensive end.

If the Cougars want to take another step forward this season, they will have to improve their production on the offensive end. For as good as they were defensively, they really struggled to score once Barry was out for the season. As a team, they shot only 42% from the field last season, and they were second-worst in the CAA in turnovers per game. Much of these struggles could be attributed to youth, but the Cougars will need to improve offensively if they hope to find better success this season.

Bottom Line: College of Charleston will once again have one of the most stifling defenses in mid-major basketball. The Cougars are young, and have the potential to make a big leap forward in the CAA if some of their players develop offensively. They have shown flashes, but even at worst, this is a team with a defense that will enable them to stay competitive in the CAA. This is the first year the CAA tournament will be hosted in Charleston, and the Cougars have a good chance to make a run come March.

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