Davidson has a formula that works, and it isn’t likely to deviate from it this year. The Wildcats handle the basics — passing, shooting, taking care of the ball, limiting opponents to one shot — as well as anyone. According to KenPom.com, Davidson ranked in the top 20 nationally last year in turnover percentage, effective field goal percentage, free throw percentage, offensive efficiency and opponents’ offensive rebounding percentage.
Little wonder they were in nearly every game in conference play before making a run to the Atlantic 10 Tournament title. And even with the graduation of Peyton Aldridge, the league’s co-Player of the Year, Davidson could be every bit as good this year. “We have a chance to be a deep team and a chance to be a versatile team,” coach Bob McKillop says.
At a Glance
HEAD COACH: Bob McKillop
2017-18 RECORD (A-10): 21-12 (13-5)
2017-18 POSTSEASON: NCAA: Lost to Kentucky 78-73 in the first round
F Peyton Aldridge (21.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg)
F Will Magarity (5.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
F Oskar Michelsen (5.5 ppg)
G Rusty Reigel (3.8 ppg)
There is uncertainty at forward, where the Wildcats lose not only Aldridge but also veterans Will Magarity and Oskar Michelsen. One potential solution is a lot of four-guard sets.
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But Davidson still needs production up front, and the options are either untested or coming off injuries. Fifth-year senior Nathan Ekwu missed all of last season recovering from a knee injury, but he was a part-time starter in his first two years with the Wildcats. He is a hard worker and knows Davidson’s system.
Junior Dusan Kovacevic has dealt with two ACL tears and a foot injury while playing in only 24 games over the last three years. When healthy, he’s a skilled back-to-the-basket player who can pass and hit a spot-up 3-pointer, but it’s a fair question how long it will take him to shake off his rustiness.
McKillop believes Luka Brajkovic will earn quality minutes as a freshman, while Nelson Boachie-Yiadom’s ball-handling ability is an asset as he begins his college career.
Kellan Grady opened his freshman year with back-to-back 20-point outings and went on to average 18.0 points en route to A-10 Rookie of the Year honors. “The sky’s the limit for him,” McKillop says. “He has an insatiable work ethic. He can play the 1, 2 and 3 for us. … He doesn’t get distracted by a missed shot or two. That’s a special ingredient to have.”
Grady is joined by two other returning backcourt starters. Junior Jon Axel Gudmundsson is an aggressive and fearless player who capped last season by making six 3-pointers in the second half of an NCAA Tournament loss to Kentucky. KiShawn Pritchett spent part of the offseason recovering from nagging injuries, and McKillop is optimistic it will improve the athleticism of a junior who could play at four different spots.
Joining that group is redshirt freshman Luke Frampton, who was poised to have a strong debut last year before suffering a preseason knee injury. “He’s got a chance to be very special,” McKillop says. “His shot is as picture-perfect as when we first recruited him, and we’re expecting him to make an immediate impact on our program.”
Sophomore Carter Collins will have a chance to expand his role. David Czerapowicz and Mike Jones could provide potent outside shooting as freshmen.
The Wildcats’ ability to win the Atlantic 10 and perhaps win a game or two in the NCAA Tournament will hinge on what they can get out of their frontcourt. “We’re certainly not going to change our style too much,” McKillop says. “So much will be dictated by how the young kids develop and how soon they get a clear understanding of our system, as well as the recovery of some of our guys who have been out with injuries.”
Postseason Prediction: One & Done
A-10 Prediction: 1st