Monmouth had a historic season in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, as the Hawks were the first-ever team to win 18 games in the conference. But they were sent to the NIT for a second straight year after coming up short in the league tournament.
The upset cleared the way for Iona to make it to its second straight NCAA Tournament. The Gaels have relied on relentless guards and transfers the past two years to go dancing and will need to do so again in 2017-18 to make it back into the field of 68.
The team's top three scorers from last year are gone, with forward Jordan Washington being the biggest departure. The 6-foot-8 forward led the team with 18 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Guards Jon Severe and Sam Cassell Jr. we're both one-year rental players as graduate transfers and averaged a combined 23.2 points, 5.2 assists and 6.8 rebounds. While all three will be sorely missed, the team has some solid returning players and a pair of impact graduate transfers.
Former Tulsa forward TK Edogi enters the program after having 4.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game last season. With sparingly-used 6-foot-9 junior Tyrell Williams being the only other traditional big on the roster, Edogi will be playing lots of minutes and will be expected to make huge contributions.
The team should be a bit more set at the guard spots with the return of Rickey McGill, who had 10.5 points and 5.1 assists per game as a sophomore. He will be joined by Deyshonee Much, who made 38.5 percent of his 3s to go with his 9.5 points and 3.6 rebounds. The Gaels adds another runner to the stable with 6-foot-3 Massachusetts transfer Zach Lewis, who had been a pretty big contributor previously at another MAAC school, Canisius.
Iona should be back in the upper portion of the conference but will likely fall just short of taking the regular-season conference crown.
While it was Iona going dancing each of the past two years, Monmouth has been the conference's top dog, though it has to replace quite a few critical pieces from those units. Two-time MAAC Player of the Year Justin Robinson is out of eligibility after going off for 19.7 points, 4.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game as a senior.
The keys to the car belong to junior Micah Seaborn, who had 13.2 points as one of the conference's highest-volume shooters. He converted over 37 percent of his field-goals last season and saw his 3-point percentage go from 38.6 to 33 from his freshman and sophomore seasons.
The team also has questions at the center spot, but the answer is currently on the Hawks’ roster in the form of 6-foot-10 senior Zac Tillman.
Monmouth should be the favorite in the conference once again this season as a result with Iona possibly falling down the conference standings. The conference as a whole appears to be better than it was last year, but there is no dominant team.
Greg Peterson’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference forecast:
9. St. Peter's