Our first player from defending tournament champions Western Michigan is six-foot-six, 220 pound sophomore, and Seattle product Tucker Haymond. Haymond returns this year as one of four other returning starters for the MAC NCAA Tourney representatives, taking the court alongside senior point guard Austin Richie, senior shooting guard David Brown, and junior power forward Connar Tava.
While Haymond is officially listed as a guard/forward on the roster, Richie and Brown are clear guards and Haymond will remain where he was most productive last year - at the small forward spot. But with Haymond's versatility, he can drop back to that 2 spot if need be or play as an additional guard when the Broncos play small-ball without a true center (which the Broncos often did last year).
Last year Haymond averaged seven points, four rebounds and twenty-four minutes per game. He shot 44% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc. While these numbers aren't exactly mind-blowing, Haymond provided consistency on the court that was pivotal to the Broncos success, particularly during the second half of the season.
In the Broncos final 14 games of the year, including the MAC and NCAA tournaments, the team went 12-2 (with one loss coming in overtime) and over that span, Haymond played an average of nearly 27 minutes per game. In four of the last six games of the year, Haymond scored double digits. As the season got more intense, so did Haymond.
Haymond's two greatest games were against Akron and Toledo in the semi-final and final of the MAC tournament, respectively. In the Akron game, Haymond logged 39 minutes in a game that saw the Broncos come back from eighteen down and beat the Zips in overtime. He also hit the three that put the Broncos ahead after making up that eighteen point deficit.
Against Toledo, Haymond scored 21 points and tallied nine rebounds - both career highs - in the game that sent the Broncos to the big dance.
With big-scorer Shayne Whittington graduated, it will fall on the rest of the starters to aid guard David Brown in getting points on the board. But if Tucker Haymond keeps up the pace from last year, this shouldn't be a problem at all.