MAC Basketball Top 25 - #17 Chris Bond, Ball State Forward

USA TODAY Sports

We continue our look at the top 25 basketball players in the conference this season with #17 Ball State forward Chris Bond.

2013 starts a new era in Ball State basketball.

At the helm this season is head coach James Whitford.  Whitford takes over for Billy Taylor, who finished last season 15-15 for the second consecutive season.  The former Miami (Ohio), Xavier, and Arizona assistant inherits a talented senior class in Muncie.  If the Cardinals are to have any measure of improvement in Whitford's first season, significant contributions will need to come from the No. 17 player on our list, Chris Bond.

Bond, a 6'4" 195 pound Gary, Indiana product, enters the 2013 season having established himself as a defensive spark plug and team leader for the Cardinals.  Last season Bond tied Ohio guard D.J. Cooper for the conference lead in steals per game at 2.0.  Eight times last season Bond logged more than 4 steals a game.  Bond will be relied on heavily if Ball State is going to improve upon a defense that gave up 68 points a game last year, ninth in the conference.

All facets of Bond's game were improved a season ago.  With the departure of Jauwan Scaife, Bond returns as the team's third leading scorer, averaging 8.9 points per game.  The senior proved explosive in spots last year.  Bond hit eight buckets without a miss en route to scoring 18 points at Eastern Michigan last season.  Scoring numbers are sure to increase for Bond this year.

Along with Majok Majok, Bond will help form one of the more impressive rebounding duos in all of the MAC.  Last year Bond ripped down an average of 6.1 boards a game, good for 10th in the conference.  On five occasions Bond led the team in rebounding, impressive numbers for a team with the conference's leading rebounder in Majok.  Ball State's frontcourt should shape up to be one of the more formidable in the MAC West.

A season ago the Cardinals were 8-13 on February 6th before winning 7 of 8 to salvage what would have otherwise been a forgettable season.  In four wins between February 23rd and March 5th, Bond averaged 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds.  The impressive way Bond finished the season, as well as other returning talent, and a new head coaching regime,  has Cardinals fans optimistic about the upcoming season.

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