Tulsa basketball

Tulsa basketball looks to bounce back after a rough season in 2020.

After finishing the previous season tied for first, Tulsa basketball struggled to win in 2020. The Golden Hurricane hope to bounce back after finishing 11-12 on the season and 7-9 in the American Athletic Conference.

They’ll have a lot to overcome, with the losses of Brandon Rachal to graduation and Elijah Joiner to the transfer portal. Those two were the leading scorers for Tulsa basketball last season. Rachal was also the leading rebounder, thief, and shot blocker on the team and played Summer League with the Brooklyn Nets. Joiner, who is taking his talents to Iona, led the team in assists.

Tulsa also lost numerous players to the portal and graduation, but head coach Frank Haith did a great job recruiting and brought in a lot of talent to replace these pieces.

Projected Rotation

PG: Darien Jackson (6-3, 189, Sr.)

2021 stats: 7.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals

Projected stats: 9.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals

SG: Sam Griffin (6-3, 180, So.)

2021 stats: 13.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists (UT-Arlington)

Projected stats: 9.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists

SF: Jeriah Horne (6-7, 220, Gr.-Sr.)

2021 stats: 10.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists (Colorado)

Projected stats: 12.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists

PF: Tim Dalger (6-7, 218, So.)

2021 stats: 14.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals (Independence Community College)

Projected stats: 11.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals

C: Rey Idowu (6-9, 240, So.)

2021 stats: 7.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists

Projected stats: 8.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists

6: Keyshawn Embery-Simpson (6-3, 200, Jr.)

2021 stats: 7.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists

Projected stats: 7.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists

7: Curtis Haywood II (6-5, 200, Sr.)

2021 stats: 5.3 points, 3.6 rebounds. 1.9 assists

Projected stats: 5.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists

8: Nikita Konstantynovskyi (7-0, 205, So.)

2021 stats: 8.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 blocks (northeastern Oklahoma A&M)

Projected stats: 6.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.0 blocks

9:  Peyton Urbancic (6-6, 185, So.)

2021 stats: 2.2 points, 0.7 rebounds, 0.3 assists

Projected stats: 4.1 points, 1.7 rebounds. 1.1 assists

10: Sterling Gaston-Chapman (6-4, 210, Fr.)

Rivals 3-star recruit

Projected stats: 4.4 points, 3.1 rebounds. 1.8 assists

Team MVP: Jeriah Horne

After leaving Tulsa in 2019, Jeriah Horne went to the Pac-12 and succeeded with Colorado. This expanded his game which will be a huge asset for Tulsa basketball this year. Already knowing the Tulsa way amidst the loss of Brandon Rachal, Horne will look to be a star.

Horne hopes to beat his top-10 finish in the Pac-12 in rebounds, true shooting percentage, three-point field goals, win shares, box plus/minus, and turnover percentage last year. Horne can be the spark that the Golden Hurricane is looking for and could need. His ability to be active on defense will be a crucial part of Tulsa basketball, as he will have some tough matchups in the AAC.  He hopes to add to his stat line and have a real shot at being an NBA prospect next year.

Make-or-Break Player: Darien Jackson

Darien Jackson is coming along right on time for coach Haith and Tulsa basketball. He is aggressive, ball hungry, and wants to win. Last year, he was a huge spark to the Golden Hurricanes, always lighting a fire and fighting for wins. He is the most experienced player in Haith’s system and will lead his team in every game. Jackson will need to create shots, force ball movement, and occasionally make things happen. Tulsa will lean hard on Jackson, and while he won’t explode on any pages, he likely is the best facilitator.

Bench Rating: 6/10

While a few players are coming back from last year’s Tulsa basketball team, there are many new faces, and having them develop will be a huge part. Coach Haith produces great players in his recruiting and puts pressure on coal pieces to find diamonds.

This team focused on guards but will be a little short in the forward/wing position. The guys coming off the bench will need to find ways to score with their size.

Tulsa is guard-centric, with nine total, including Ladavius Draine, Curtis Haywood, Sam Griffin, Keyshawn Embery-Simpson, Sterling Gaston-Chapman, Gavyn Elkamil, Petyon Urbancic (more of a forward/wing), Darien Jackson, Anthony Prichard, and Ari Seals. The wing/forward players are Tim Dalger, Josh Earley, Jeriah Horne, and Rey Idowu, who will essentially be the big man alongside Nikita Konstantynovskyi.

The pace of play will be similar to that of SMU, relying heavily on guard play and hoping the wings will win their matchups and shoot the deep ball.

Analytic to Know: Second-chance Conversion Percentage

This analytic is pretty impressive for Tulsa as it is in the top 50 teams in second-chance conversion percentage. This percentage is the total number of missed field goals divided by the field goal conversions that occur five seconds or less after an offensive rebound. They have a 6.42 percent, which is behind only two other AAC teams in Memphis’s 7.16 and UCF’s 7.07 last year. This is a big stat for the AAC, meaning that when facing Tulsa basketball, the opponent needs to hustle back into position or very quickly get in the way of players on breakaways.

Team Outlook

Tulsa basketball appears to be reloading, with many guys needing to learn the system and find their roles. The Golden Hurricanes are likely starting like a tropical storm and have a chance to put together a strong resume to make a run for the NCAA tournament.

Coach Haith and the Golden Hurricanes have found and scheduled five teams that advanced into the NIT and NCAA tournament last year. These teams will offer some tough competition and help Tulsa basketball grow. The Golden hurricanes will play good competition including Oregon State, Rhode Island, Boston College/Utah (Sunshine Slam), Oral Roberts, Boise State, Loyola Marymount, and Colorado State in the non-conference.

Projected Finish: 4th in the American Athletic Conference

Projected Postseason Finish: NIT Semifinals

Postseason Ceiling: NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Exit

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