AAC Men’s Basketball Season Preview (2020-21)
The American Athletic Conference is down to 11 universities due to UConn accepting an invitation to join the Big East. The move makes sense for the Huskies geographically and gives teams in the AAC one less contender to worry about.
To get a peek at the top players and teams, as well as the tournament odds, check out this AAC basketball season preview for 2020-21.
AAC Basketball Tournament Odds
Houston begins the year as the favorite to win the AAC basketball tournament. The Cougars ended last season ranked 22nd in the country after tying for the best record in the conference. Cincy and Tulsa also registered 13-5 marks in conference play.
With that being said, the Bearcats and Golden Hurricane will not present the biggest challenge for Kelvin Sampson and his crew in Houston this time around. At least that’s what’s being portrayed in these AAC basketball odds referenced from XBet.
Top Three Contenders in the AAC
The program in Space City leads off the list of the prime American Athletic Conference contenders.
Frontcourt play is the only question mark for Coach Sampson. The makeup of the Cougars roster lends itself to playing a guard-orientated lineup, so perhaps the lack of size in the post won’t be so much of a deterrence.
Rising sophomore Caleb Mills (more on him later) is set for an increased role, while another sophomore, transfer Cameron Tyson, is a deadly three-point shooter. Former Kansas guard Quentin Grimes will look to improve his 12.1 ppg average from 2019-20.
Like the situation in Houston, SMU’s basketball team will go as far as their lead guards take them. Tyson Jolly is a 6’4” shooting guard who can score from all over the court. He’s also a big-time rebounder (6.2 rpg) for his size.
His backcourt mate, Kendric Davis, is simply a “stat-sheet stuffer.”
|Kendric Davis – By the Numbers in 2019-20|
The key for the Mustangs could be Yor Anei – a 6’10” rim protector who’s waiting for NCAA clearance as he nurses a wrist infection.
After all of the headaches Penny Hardaway endured surrounding the availability of James Wiseman, the Memphis coach can breathe a huge sigh of relief.
BREAKING: Moussa Cisse has been cleared for immediate eligibility by the NCAA per a Memphis spokesperson.— Evan Barnes〽️ (@evan_b) November 21, 2020
Cisse is a budding NBA prospect who fills a major void left by the departure of Precious Achiuwa. Another newcomer, Virginia Tech transfer Landers Nolley, figures to be one of the best players in the AAC.
A Sleeper in the American Athletic Conference
Lurking at +1500 to cut the nets down at the American Athletic Conference Tournament, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane seems to be worth a look. You may not find another AAC basketball preview that agrees with that sentiment, and that’s ok.
Sure, Tulsa waved goodbye to a host of talent via graduation and the transfer protocol, but that opens the door for new faces to step through. Brandon Rachal receives support in the backcourt in the form of Darien Jackson and Elijah Joiner, and Frank Haith scooped up a valuable transfer of his own.
Austin Richie arrives in Tulsa after scoring 16.4 points per game last season at Triton College.
The Best Players in the AAC
Let’s zero in on the top basketball players in the AAC.
Caleb Mills – Houston
Caleb Mills was terrific as a freshman. The 6’3” attacking guard poured in 13.2 ppg and was named to the All-Conference Second Team. What’s most impressive is he did so in a reserve role, playing just 22.5 minutes per game.
Set for an uptick in minutes, expect Mills’ production to also be on the rise. The way Caleb extends his hands high above his head at his release point makes his shot almost impossible to block.
Jayden Gardner – East Carolina
This man won’t receive as much hype due to playing on a hardly-competitive East Carolina squad. Nevertheless, you’d have a hard time finding another player in this conference who does more for his team.
After drooping 16.3ppg and 8.5 rpg as a freshman, the 6’7” 235-pound forward upped the ante as a sophomore.
Coming off 19.7ppg and 9.2 rpg, it’s more than feasible that Gardner averages 20/10 as a junior.
Kendric Davis – SMU
Among the best passers in the nation, I introduced how well-rounded a player the SMU point guard is in a previous segment. Now you can hear what his coach has to say regarding the perspective Kendric Davis gained from his experiences over the offseason.
Previewing Other Conferences in College Basketball
I’m leaning toward backing Houston to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament – for now. More college basketball conference tournament predictions can be obtained here.
For more guides to individual NCAAB conferences, check out the links below.