CAA Preview: James Madison University Dukes

Last season: 14–19 (6–12, eighth place), lost in CAA quarterfinal

Head coach: Louis Rowe (third season)

CAA Preseason Poll Finish: Fourth

Losses

  • G Stuckey Mosley
  • G Matthew Urbach
  • F Greg Jones
  • F Develle Phillips
  • F Cameron Smith

Additions

  • G Zyon Dobbs
  • G Quinn Richey
  • G Jayvis Harvey
  • F Dalton Jefferson
  • F Julien Wooden
  • F Michael Christmas

By Adam Doucette

The JMU Dukes will look to rebound from their lackluster, eighth-place 2018–19. It won’t be easy after graduating second-leading scorer Stuckey Mosley, but JMU returns the other four starters and has added some depth with new recruits.

One of those recruits is Michael Christmas, a three-star prospect according to 247sports. He is ranked as the 14th best prospect from the state of Virginia for 2019.

Junior guards Matt Lewis and Darius Banks look to build on fantastic sophomore seasons. Lewis averaged 16 points, four rebounds, and three assists per game, making the All-CAA third team in the process. He will likely become the offensive centerpiece. Banks averaged 12 points and five assists per game, and his 56 steals were second only to Defensive Player of the Year Desure Buie. Banks also made a mind-boggling 49 percent of his threes last year.

Sophomore point guard Deshon Parker will look to become a leader after earning a starting spot last season and averaging six points, two rebounds, and three assists per game. JMU also returns 6’8” junior forward Zach Jacobs, who paced the team defensively with 26 blocks.

JMU will face one of the nation’s toughest teams early on. In just their second regular season game, the Dukes will travel to Charlottesville to play the reigning national champion Virginia Cavaliers. JMU has faced Virginia ten times in the past; they’ve lost all ten.

The Dukes head into the season under the direction of head coach Louis Rowe. Rowe played two years at JMU, was an assistant coach for five, and has been head coach for the last two. In his first season at the helm, the team finished last in the CAA; last year they finished eighth. The Dukes have not earned a top five seed in the CAA tournament since they were third in 2015–16.

Bottom line: JMU has hung out at the bottom of the CAA standings for the better part of the last three seasons. Digging themselves out won’t be easy, especially with the loss of leading scorer Mosley. But with an added year of experience for coach Louis Rowe, the maturing of Lewis, Banks, and Parker, and the addition of some talented recruits, the Dukes should jump in the standings.

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