The 2019-2020 Florida Atlantic University men's basketball team opened up pre-season play this past Friday, in a home exhibition against next door neighbor Lynn University. The Owls defeated Lynn 92-75. Five Owls scored in double figures, leading the way was PG Richardson Maitre with 15 points and C Karlis Silins with 14 points.
The Owls will tip-off the regular season this Tuesday against Flagler College, a member of the NCAA Division II Peach Belt Conference. The entire 2019-20 schedule can be found at the link below:
2019-20 FAU Men's Basketball Schedule - FAU Owl's Nest
In their first season under head coach Dusty May (photo right), the Owls finished 17-16, and earned their first postseason tournament berth since 2011. The Owls lost to Charleston Southern in the opening round of the CIT Tournament.
Last season, the team began 8-3 and then had some stumbles in Conference USA play. FAU made the CUSA Conference tournament as a 9 seed, before losing to Louisiana Tech as an 8 seed.
This years team features six new players who are expected to be part of the rotation. In the back court, freshmen guards DJ Robertson, and Kenan Blackshear. Transfers who recently debuted as Owls are G Everett Winchester (Wright State) and G Cornelius Taylor (Lincoln Memorial). New faces in the front court are freshmen F Dardan Kapiti and F Carrington McCaskill.
Undergraduates departing from last years team are G KeVaughn Ellis, G Cedric Jackson (transfer to Montevallo University), G/F Gabe Merete (still a student at FAU) and G/F Will Rutherford.
The only changes to the coaching staff are the addition of assistant Todd Abernathy, who spent last season as the head coach at Trintity University in Illinois. Prior to his stop at Trinity International, Abernathy was an assistant at Ole Miss for four seasons. Also joining the staff is graduate assistant Lexx Edwards. Before joining the staff, Edwards played guard at the University of Florida while Dusty May was on staff in Gainesville.
Letís take a look at the key players, matchups and newcomers for the upcoming season.
- Key Newcomers There will be many new faces for FAU fans to get to know on the hardwood. on the wing, the Owls added Carrington McCaskill, Everett Winchester and Kenan Blackshear. McCaskill, a three star recruit from Detroit, Michigan is expected to be in rotation as a true freshmen. Coach Dusty May is looking forward to see what McCaskill can do as an Owl. "Carrington is a long, athletic, versitile forward who can play multiple positions, and really fits our style of play". Another headliner from the incoming recruiting class is G Kenan Blackshear. The former Jones High School standout, is the brother of Florida Gators F Kerry Blackshear Jr. After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, F Everett Winchester will be right in the mix for big minutes this season. Winchester spent his freshmen year at Wright State before transferring to FAU.
- Front Court Key returners on the front court include fellow bigs: sophomore Karlis Sillins (7 PPG, 5 REB), senior Aleksandar Zecevic and Madiaw Niang (photo left). When Dusty May joined the program in March of 2018, one of his first changes was adding size. He did just that in signing transfers Karlis Sillins (Ole Miss) and Alekandar Zecevic (San Jacinto JC). Silins is in the conversation for the best big in the conference along with WKU`s Charles Bassey. Zecevic excelled as a rotational big last season (55% FGM). Sophomore Madiaw Niang had some bright moments in his freshmen year, including a 12 point, 14 rebound performance in FAU`s upset win at Illinois. A candidate to fill the role of graduated Simeon Lepichev, is F Dardan Kapiti. "He has the unique ability to be a shot blocker and a capable perimeter shooter" said Coach Dusty May. The true freshmen from The Rock High School in Gainesville, FL has the skill set to produce in a stretch four role.
- Jaylin and Jaylen Two key factors in FAU`s 8-3 start to the 2018 season were forwards Jaylin Ingram and Jaylen Sebree. Ingram, who is listed as a junior, was named preseason first team All-Conference USA. Ingram is expected to be ready to go as FAU opens the season, after suffering a torn ACL last year. Before his injury, Ingram was averaging 19 PPG through the first 10 games last season. Sophomore F Jaylen Sebree impressed many early in the 2018-2019 campaign including an 18 point peformance at the Univeristy of Miami in late December, before suffering a season ending injury. Sebree will be in rotation at wing.
- Point Guard In the mix as this yearís primary point guards are sophomore Mike Forrest and junior Richardson Maitre. Forrest was the primary ball handler last season. The Blanche Ely HS product scored 32 against Marshall last season. Two newcomers who are expected to challenge for minutes and to fill the Anthony Adger role left vacant after his graduation are true freshmen DJ Robertson and JuCo grad transfer Cornelius Taylor. Prior to arriving at FAU, Taylor had a very successful career at Lincoln Memorial College. "He is a versatile guard who has won 82 games over the past three seasons at one of the premier Division II programs in the country", said Coach Dusty May after signing the talented guard in May. Robertson is an aggressive scoring guard from Raleigh, North Carolina. Originally a Northern Kentucky commit, Robertson flipped to FAU as then- Northern Kentucky Head Coach John Brannen was hired by Cincinnati.
- Key Games The 2019-2020 schedule features several high profile non-conference match ups. The Owls will take a trip to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama on November 11th. Key games that will be played in the sunshine state include: Friday November 8th, the Owls will travel to Coral Gables to play the Miami Hurricanes. FAU will also play FGCU on November 20th and at USF on December 29th. The inagural Boca Raton Beach Classic will be played on campus at The Burrow from November 29th to December 4th. The team will play 4 games in this tournament. Other teams participating are Holy Cross, UIC, San Diego State, St. Bonaventure and Canisius. CUSA play is scheduled to begin on January 2nd against UTSA.
FAU was picked to finish 9th amongst Conference USA team members by the league's coaches in the 2019-20 preseason poll. Ingram was tabbed to the Preseason Team.