The MAC had a great season last year. Eight teams won over twenty games and two players - Richaun Holmes and Maurice Ndour - are currently on NBA Training Camp rosters. Unfortunately as college basketball goes, those players graduate and new players come into the fold.
The amount of talent that the MAC is losing from last year due to graduation, transfer or dismissal is alarming. Of the top 16 scorers (by points per game) last season, only four return. Gone are guys like Ndour, Holmes, Justin Moss, Julius Brown, Shannon Evans, David Brown, Karrington Ward, Javarez Willis, Devareaux Manley, Justin Drummond and J.D. Weatherspoon. That's quite a lot of really good players that coaches will have to replace this year.
But who will they replace them with? Let's take a look at five key transfers that could have a huge impact on the 2015-2016 MAC basketball season.
Kenny Kaminski - F (Ohio)
Kaminski is definitely the biggest name to enter the conference this season, after spending his redshirt and freshman season at Michigan State. The 6-foot-8, 225 pound forward becomes eligible to play for the Bobcats at just the right time, as he will step into Ndour's starting power forward spot.
While a Spartan, Kaminski averaged just under five points per game while playing twelve minutes per contest. But, to have a role in the rotation under Tom Izzo playing for a team that reached the Elite Eight shows how much of a potential force Kaminski can be in the MAC.
He's best known for his 3-point shooting prowess - he led the Big Ten in 3-point shooting percentage during his only year in East Lansing. Mainly playing at or around the 3-point arc, he's always looking to get open and benefits from being with a point guard who knows how to find open 3-point shooters.
There is a bit of baggage that comes along with Kaminski. He was suspended two times during his freshman season at Michigan State before ultimately being dismissed from the team after the season. The reasoning for the suspension was never disclosed, but hopefully it's something that won't come up again while in Athens.
Jaaron Simmons - G (Ohio)
Simmons will take over Bean Willis' role as starting point guard after arriving in Athens after spending his freshman season at Houston. The 6-foot-1, 185 sophomore from Dayton had an Ohio offer coming out of high school along with other schools like Wichita State, Dayton and St. Bonaventure.
We actually caught up with Simmons in May to discuss his transfer and his goals as a Bobcat. Although he only averaged two points per game while averaging eleven minutes of playing time at Houston, he'll play a huge role in the Ohio offense. His high school numbers show that he can sure put the ball in the basket, and his quickness will be a factor in making Ohio's offense a little more up-tempo.
Although he's just 6-foot-1, he can sure dunk:
Side View pic.twitter.com/Pb3zs17BgB— Jaaron Simmons (@J3_Simmons) October 18, 2015
Ryan Weber - G/F (Ball State)
Weber, who was Youngstown State's second-leading scorer two seasons ago, comes into Muncie looking to improve the Cardinals 65 points per game last season which ranked 224th among Division I teams. The 6-foot-6, 226 pound wing should crack the starting lineup at small forward and could be a part of a three-headed monster between point guard Jeremie Tyler and forward Sean Sellers.
While at Youngstown State, Weber improved his scoring average from two points per game to just over twelve points per game from his freshman to sophomore year. Like Kaminski, he's a deft 3-point shooter, hitting just under 42 percent of his attempts two seasons ago. Weber is also fantastic at the charity stripe, knocking down 86 percent of his free throw attempts.
After yet another dismal season, coach James Whitford will lean on Weber to be a leader in a young locker room and also a leader on the floor. Weber and Sellers can cause a lot of problems stretching defenses, and if they overachieve Ball State could be a surprise team in the MAC this season.
Galal Cancer - G (Kent State)
Cancer graduated from Cornell last season and is joining the Kent State program for his last year of eligibility. The Flashes lost guards Manley, Kris Brewer and Derek Jackson to graduation and Cancer should slide into that starting point guard role.
At Cornell, Cancer averaged over seven points per game during his career which culminated in a very solid senior season. The Albany native scored just a shade under ten points per game while averaging thirty minutes on the floor. He's a decent shooter, hitting around 40 percent of his attempts from the field and behind the arc last year. But, he also rebounds and sees the floor well, grabbing over three rebounds per game last year and dishing out three assists.
With the Flashes losing nearly 60 percent of their scoring output from last year, Cancer will need to step up and solidify a backcourt with a lot of questions. Jimmy Hall will be the featured player this season no doubt, but consistent play from Cancer and the next player on the list will make Kent State a contender for the MAC title.
Xavier Pollard - G (Kent State)
It's been a long time coming for Xavier Pollard, who left Maine after the 2013-2014 season to come to Kent. He was the Black Bears' leading scorer two years ago, averaging just under 15 points per game while playing a team-high 32 minutes per game.
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard will likely be Cancer's partner in the backcourt after sitting out a year. There will be some growing pains, but Pollard has had more than a year to learn the offense and practice with his teammates. Anything is possible with a player like Hall in the post, and if Pollard can replicate what he did at Maine this team can be very good.
One thing that will be something to watch out for is, when at Maine, Pollard was the go-to guy and averaged ten shots per game. Now that he won't be the focal point of the offense, will he still look to get his normal amount of shots per game? Not saying that he is selfish, but transitioning from being the best player on a bad team to being the second or third best player on a really good team can be a tough thing to do.
Although the MAC lost a lot of talent from last year, there are players that will fill in mightily for those who have graduated or moved on and will become the next crop of stars in the conference. Can't the season just start already?