Many of the OVC’s top teams from 2012-13 experienced lots of turnover on their rosters this offseason. League Champion Belmont lost the best backcourt in mid-major basketball in Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson. Murray State lost four starters, including league Co-MVP Isaiah Canaan. Tennessee State lost Robert Covington and Kellon Thornton, both All-OVC performers. Eastern Kentucky and Southeast Missouri each return four starters, and are thus picked to win their divisions by league coaches.
The departure of so many key players leaves plenty of opportunities for new stars to shine. Here are some players who will step up this season and give their teams a chance to earn an NCAA bid.
Five Players to Watch This Season
Patrick Miller, Tennessee State 6’1” G - Miller was the glue for the Tigers last season and with Robert Covington and Kellon Thornton gone, he will have to be even more than that. Miller led the league in assists last season and earned All-OVC honors. The best guard in the league, he is this writer’s favorite to be Most Outstanding Player this season.
Drew Windler, Belmont 6’9” C - The Samford transfer is a highly skilled big that has all the tools to make him the centerpiece of Rick Byrd’s offense. Windler stuffed the stat sheet at Samford as a junior in 2011-12, averaging 14 ppg and shooting 43% from 3-point range. He gives the Bruins a legit low-post threat, which will somewhat ease the pain of losing Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson to graduation.
Tyler Stone, Southeast Missouri State 6’8” F - The Redhawks have four starters returning and add Auburn transfer Josh Langford. Stone has the highest ceiling of that group, and was tabbed Preseason Player of the Year by the league’s coaches. If he brings it every night, SEMO has a chance to be a contender. He hasn’t always done that the past couple seasons, and the Redhawks haven’t lived up to the hype.
Glenn Cosey, Eastern Kentucky 6’0” G - The Colonels should be considered the favorite to win the OVC this season and Cosey is a major reason why. He does it all for EKU and ranked near the top of the league in several statistical categories last season. He made 2.8 threes per game last year, but his long range shooting is hardly the only reason he will be the go-to guy for Coach Jeff Neubauer.
Cameron Payne, Murray State 6’2” G - Losing Zay Jackson really hurts the Racers. He would have been their most experienced guard and an All-OVC caliber player. His absence thrusts Payne into the spotlight, fair or not. The freshman from Memphis is silky smooth and can play both backcourt positions. How he adjusts to the physicality of the college game will determine his success, and the Racers’ too.
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