MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - With each new season, a distinctive identity or fitting watchword used to describe a team naturally emerges. As practice is officially underway for the 2017-18 season for the Central Michigan men’s basketball team, depth appears to be the hallmark of this squad. Perhaps the most ever featured by a Keno Davis-led team since he took the helm of the program in 2012.
Gone to the professional ranks are the ultra-productive Marcus Keene and Braylon Rayson, who combined to score 51.2 points per game, the most by a backcourt tandem in the NCAA in 2016-17. Replacing those numbers will fall to not just one or two players but the bulk of the Chippewa roster.
One aspect of the team that will remain steadily the same is the up-tempo, high-scoring, entertaining offensive style that has become the trademark of the Chippewas under Davis. That scheme has produced a scoring average that ranks in or near the top 10 in the NCAA and helped to rack up 56 wins over the past three seasons, the most by a CMU team since 1966-68. Also, in each of the last two seasons, CMU has broken the program record for 3-pointers. Expect that mark to be challenged again in 2017-18.
Leading that long-range charge will be guard Josh Kozinski. The senior is line to break the program record for career 3-pointers, following in the footsteps of former teammates John Simons and Rayson, who set the standard in each of the past two seasons. Kozinski needs just 36 triples to move into the top spot. He has averaged just over 75 the past three seasons. Senior forward Luke Meyer has seen it all from his frontcourt spot during his time in the maroon and gold. Literally. He holds the rare distinction of starting every game of his career, a streak that currently stands at 97 consecutive. The 6-10½ Meyer is a dual threat, capable of scoring both in the paint and beyond the arc.
Cecil Williams made his presence felt in his first season as a Chippewa. He, too, is an inside-outside player. The senior forward shot .478 from the field, .438 from 3-point range and .791 from the free throw line a year ago. Williams displayed a knack for getting to the free throw line, scoring 35 percent of his points from the charity stripe. He also topped CMU in rebounding (6.0 rpg).
Sophomore forward David DiLeo is the team’s leading returning scorer after averaging 8.5 points per game as a freshman. DiLeo made 64 3-pointers and tied for the team lead with an .848 free throw percentage. He flashed his dynamic ability when he scored a season-high 22 points on the road at Northern Illinois and notched double-doubles versus Tennessee Tech and Chicago State.
Corey Redman returns to action after redshirting last season. In 2016-17, he shot .556 from the 3-point line, appearing in 26 games. Sophomore Kevin McKay focused on improving his outside shot in the offseason and will be a factor on both ends of the court in 2017-18. Guard Matty Smith played in all 32 games in his freshman campaign and is currently working his way back into form after offseason surgery. Redshirt freshman center Innocent Nwoko will see his first collegiate action. His strengths will be shot-blocking and rebounding.
Newcomers will also play a pivotal role.
Shawn Roundtree, a junior college transfer guard, has been likened by Davis to Chippewa legend Chris Fowler in terms of his ability to both score and distribute. At Mineral Area College last season, Roundtree shot 50 percent from the field and averaged 10.9 points per game in leading the Cardinals to a 28-3 record and a No. 9 national ranking.
Guard Gavin Peppers, a transfer from Cleveland State, will also make an immediate impact. At his two previous stops, he displayed the ability to be a playmaker. At Laramie County CC, Peppers averaged 18.7 points and 3.8 assists per game, making 37 percent of hit 3-point attempts and 83 percent of his three throw tries. At Olympic College, he averaged 15.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
Freshman guard Matt Beachler, a three-time all-state honoree, graduated from Lowell as the holder of a variety of offensive records including career points (1,572), points in a game (44), 3-pointers in a game (9) and career 3-pointers (195).
Freshman forward A.J. Bullard’s 3-point shooting ability and his size (6-9) helps make him an ideal fit for Davis’ pro-style offense. As a senior at The Woodlands High School in his native Texas, Bullard averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game.
Purchase your season or single-game tickets today for the 2017-18 men’s basketball season by calling 1-888-FIRE-UP2 or click on the BUY TICKETS button above. The schedule features 16 regular season home games, including 10 Friday and Saturday dates.