Liberty basketball

Ritchie McKay and Liberty basketball look to continue their streak of winning seasons to six seasons.

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Projected Rotation

PG: Drake Dobbs (6-1, 180, So.)

2021 stats: 3.9 points, 1.3 assists, 1.1 rebounds

Projected stats: 6.5 points, 3.5 assists, 2.0 rebounds

SG: Darius McGhee (5-9, 160, Sr.)

 2021 stats: 15.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 40.8 3P%

Projected stats: 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 38.5 3P%

SF: Keegan McDowell (6-6, 180, Rs.-Sr.)

2021 stats: 6.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 40.0 3P%

Projected stats: 7.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 41.o 3P%

PF: Kyle Rode (6-7, 195, Jr.)

2021 stats: 7.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 37.0 3P%

Projected stats: 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 38.5 3P%

C: Blake Preston (6-9, 220, Jr.)

2021 stats: 9.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists

Projected stats: 12.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists

6: Micaiah Abii (6-7, 185, So.)

2021 stats: 4.3 points, 1.5 rebounds

Projected stats: 6.5 points, 3.0 rebounds

7: Shiloh Robinson (6-7, 195, Jr.)

2021 stats: 4.1 points, 3.6 rebounds

Projected stats: 5.5 points, 4.0 rebounds

8: Joseph Venzant (6-3, 170, Fr.)

247sports 3-star rated recruit

Projected stats: 4.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists

9: Jonathan Jackson (6-4, 170, So.)

2021 stats: 3.1 points, 0.8 rebounds

Projected stats: 3.5 points, 1.0 rebounds

10: Isiah Warfield (6-4, 165, So.)

2021 stats: 1.1 points, 0.6 rebounds, 0.3 assists

Projected stats: 2.5 points, 1.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists

Team MVP: Darius McGhee

McGhee will be the preseason A-Sun Player of the Year whenever it gets released. There’s possibly no other player in the A-Sun who means more to his team than McGhee does to Liberty basketball. He’s a short guard, but height has never affected his scoring.

Part of the reason is McGhee’s ability to hit from anywhere on the court. He drained 40% of his threes last season. The senior should be in for another step up and will have to become more of a passer with Chris Parker not in the starting five anymore.

Make-or-break player: Drake Dobbs

Liberty basketball really doesn’t have a point guard, so if they want McGhee to continue to be the scorer, it might be best to insert Dobbs, a sophomore, into the starting PG role. He showed enough promise last season to be considered. To main factors that could help Dobbs earn the starting role: his few turnovers coughed up and his improved play toward the end of the season. Dobbs started playing more as the season went on and backed it up with more of everything.

Bench Rating: 6/10

Liberty basketball has a lot of versatile options who can play multiple positions. Abii and Robinson will be crucial in carrying the scoring off the bench as well as rebounding. The Flames don’t have a true big man, and even fewer options for one off the bench, so toughness from the threes and the fours will be crucial. Also watch for Venzant, a 3-star rated newcomer to get some valuable minutes early on.

Team Outlook

Liberty basketball has been one of the most consistent mid-major programs of the past half-decade. They’ve done it through the defense and usually, one star player to lead the offense. This Liberty team is no different, and McGhee has enough help to keep the Flames at the top of the Atlantic Sun.

Kyle Rode and Blake Preston also team up for an interesting duo inside the paint. Neither is a true or tried big man, but both have enough experience and numbers to turn that around this season. McGhee can carry Liberty to a winning record, but Rode and Preston could really put them over the top.

Overall, it isn’t Liberty’s best team, but Ritchie McKay continues to cook up solid rosters with serious chances of reaching the postseason. It’s turning into a mid-major powerhouse. Look for at least 20 wins again in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Also, not that the transfer market is a bad way to improve, but I like how it’s a team that kept most of the roster together from last year. Chemistry won’t be an issue.

Projected Finish: 1st in the Atlantic Sun

Projected Postseason Finish: NCAA Tournament automatic bid/Round of 64 exit

Ceiling: Round of 32 exit