By Kevin Sweeney
Today concludes the mid-major positional rankings! Thanks so much for reading this week, I’ve set page view records on my website, gained a bunch of Twitter followers, and gotten to interact with tons of cool people.
We finish up the list with the center position. At the mid-major level, there are a lot of true power forwards forced to masquerade as centers given how difficult it is to recruit high-level big men at smaller schools. That said, the group I’ve assembled has a ton of talent, and a lot of guys I went in expecting to make the cut missed out.
The Top Ten:
- Mike Daum (South Dakota State)
- Vitals: 6-9, 235 pounds, Redshirt Senior
- Stats: 23.9 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, .462/.425/.851
The Dauminator enters his final season of college basketball as one of the best players in college basketball. The Nebraska native is the 2-time defending Summit League Player of the Year, and barring injury will make that 3 straight this season. An elite shooter and high-level rebounder, Daum is a near-unstoppable offensive force that makes his teammates better simply by how much attention he draws from opposing defenses. SDSU has pieces around Daum to win an NCAA Tournament game, something they haven’t done despite reaching the Big Dance each of the last 3 seasons.
2. Devontae Cacok (UNC-Wilmington)
- Vitals: 6-7, 240 pounds, Senior
- Stats: 17.7 ppg, 13.5 rpg, 0.9 apg, .585/.000/.612
Cacok’s transition from hyper-efficient 3rd offensive option in Kevin Keatts’ pressing system to offensive focal point went well last season, leading the nation in rebounding and posting almost 18 points per game for the Seahawks. However, that transition didn’t come with wins, as UNCW struggled in year one of the CB McGrath era. Cacok is the constant force for this rebuilding program, and they’ll hope to surround him with enough backcourt talent to get back into CAA contention.
3. Yoeli Childs (BYU)
- Vitals: 6-8, 225 pounds, Junior
- Stats: 17.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.2 apg, .541/.313/.643
I bet big on Childs before last season, and the Utah native made me look good. His 33 points in the WCC Tournament against Saint Mary’s opened a lot of eyes, but Childs put up big numbers all year long. He’s physical in the paint and has developed his face-up game to be able to hit 3’s. For BYU to contend for an NCAA bid, they’ll need Childs to have an even bigger 2018-19 season.
4. Drew McDonald (Northern Kentucky)
- Vitals: 6-7, 250 pounds, Senior
- Stats: 17.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.3 apg, .464/.337/.802
It’s hard to overstate just how important McDonald has been to the Northern Kentucky program. After struggling in their first 4 years as a D1 program, McDonald’s ascension into a star has led NKU to a pair of 20-win seasons and an NCAA Tournament berth. Now, the bruising big man gets one last crack at leading the Norse to a Horizon League title, and in the process could score his 2,000th career point.
5. Cameron Krutwig (Loyola-Chicago)
- Vitals: 6-9, 260 pounds, Sophomore
- Stats: 10.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.7 apg, .598/.000/.735
This is probably an aggressive ranking for the sophomore, but I’m a massive Krutwig fan. The big-bodied in-state product was a key contributor on the Ramblers’ Final Four team, impressing with his high basketball IQ, excellent passing ability, and extremely developed post game. With a summer in a college weight room under his belt, Krutwig should be able to take the next step and dominate in the Missouri Valley.
6. James Thompson IV (Eastern Michigan)
- Vitals: 6-10, 240 pounds, Senior
- Stats: 14.5 ppg, 11.2 rpg, .672/.500/.607
Thompson has averaged a double-double every season of his collegiate career, an absolutely remarkable statistic. And while his offensive game hasn’t taken the next step yet, Thompson has a very real chance to conclude his career a 2,000 point scorer and in the top 10 all-time in total rebounding. While he doesn’t get the recognition as one of college basketball’s elite, the Baton Rouge native has put together an incredible career.
7. Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky)
- Vitals: 6-10, 220 pounds, Freshman
The reclassified 2019 prospect now ranked #6 in the 247Sports composite rankings for 2018 made the decision to commit to Western Kentucky, where his guardian Hennssy Auriantal was named an assistant coach shortly after his commitment. Regardless of one’s feelings Rick Stansbury’s recruiting tactics, it’s impossible not to salivate at Bassey’s potential. A physical specimen with the tools to dominate at any level of basketball (let alone the C-USA), Bassey could average a double-double from day 1. Plus, he’ll benefit from the tutelage of grad transfer DeSean Murray, who joins the program from Auburn this season.
8. Nathan Knight (William & Mary)
- Vitals: 6-10, 235 pounds, Junior
- Stats: 18.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, .575/.306/.769
Knight had a breakout season in 2017-18, posting massive numbers for a William & Mary team that exceeded expectations last season. He has high-level physical tools for this level at 6-10 with a 7-2 wingspan, scores efficiently in the paint, and started to develop his 3-point shot. Plus, he’s a very good passer, a big asset in Tony Shaver’s offensive system. The CAA has a lot of star power, and forgetting about Knight among them would be a big mistake.
9. Grant Golden (Richmond)
- Vitals: 6-9, 240 pounds, Redshirt Sophomore
- Stats: 15.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.2 apg, .498/.275/.625
Chris Mooney’s offensive system plays through versatile bigs with high-level passing ability. Golden may not have the same floor vision that his predecessor TJ Cline, but his offensive talents will have to carry this Richmond team in a critical year for Mooney’s job security. The next step for the Virginia native is developing a consistent 3-point jumper.
10. Phil Fayne (Illinois State)
- Vitals: 6-9, 215 pounds, Senior
- Stats: 15.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.9 rpg, .595/.000/.514
Fayne is the perfect 3rd option next to Milik Yarbrough and Keyshawn Evans, a high-level athlete who finishes well around the rim, put the ball on the deck, and switch defensively. He’s efficient and doesn’t need the ball in his hands to succeed, making him so valuable to a Redbird team that I believe will contend for an at-large bid.
Nico Carvacho (Colorado State), Trayvon Reed (Texas Southern), Pauly Paulicap (Manhattan), Demajeo Wiggins (Bowling Green), Loudon Love (Wright State), Trey Porter (Nevada), Josh Cunningham (Dayton), Rashaan Holloway (UMass), AJ Brodeur (Penn), Chris Lewis (Harvard), Trey Moses (Ball State), Shawntrez Davis (Bethune-Cookman), Matt Rafferty (Furman), Cameron Jackson (Wofford)