After a heartbreaking end to last season, the Furman Paladins are ready for redemption.
CBB Review is once again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the 2022-23 season. Each day we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Coming in ranked number 62 are the Furman Paladins.
Furman has won at least 20 games in five of the last six seasons, and if not for the nefarious COVID-affected 2020-21 season, would probably have won at least 20 in all six. The Paladins have consistently fought for Southern Conference supremacy during that time, but have never been able to reach the pinnacle. In one of the best conference tournament finals during champ week last season, Furman fell victim to a half-court heave, once again being denied that coveted auto bid to March Madness.
Heading into the 2022-23 season, the Furman Paladins are hungry to finally get theirs. The group that returns is seasoned and knows what it takes to win games in one of the most underrated mid-major leagues in the nation. It won’t be easy (it never is in the SoCon), but Furman is the clear-cut favorite for the upcoming season.
To those who have not, click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2022-23 college basketball season.
Head Coach: Bob Richey (6th season)
2021-22 Record: 22-12 (12-6)
2022 Postseason Finish: No postseason
Notable Departures: Alex Hunter (Graduated), Conley Garrison (Pro)
PG: Mike Bothwell (6-3, 195, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 15.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 steals
SG: Marcus Foster (6-4, 210, Rs.-Jr.)
2021-22 stats: 8.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals
SF: Jalen Slawson (6-7, 218, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 14.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.7 blocks
PF: Tyrese Hughey (6-6, 210, So.)
2021-22 stats: 2.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 11.3 minutes, 22 games
C: Garrett Hien (6-9, 205, Jr.)
2021-22 stats: 5.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 17.9 minutes
6: Joe Anderson (6-0, 170, Jr.)
2021-22 stats: 4.7 points, 1.3 assists, 46.9% 3P%, 14.5 minutes
7: JP Pegues (6-1, 165, So.)
2021-22 stats: 3.3 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 12.6 minutes
8: Alex Williams (6-5, 205, So.)
2021-22 stats: 3.4 points, 14 games played, 8.1 minutes
9: Carter Whitt (6-3, 180, So.)
2021-22 stats: 1.7 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 11.9 minutes (Wake Forest)
Team MVP: Jalen Slawson
The statistics on Jalen Slawson can certainly speak for themselves. The senior did just about everything for the Furman Paladins on both ends of the court last season. When the team needed an energy jolt, he was the guy that always seemed to provide that spark. Slawson did not back down from a challenge on the defensive side of the ball, and he always seemed to be able to hit a key bucket when the Paladins needed it. I’m not overlooking the importance of Mike Bothwell here. He can be just as reliable and will direct all the moving parts, but Jalen Slawson is the heart and soul of this group.
Make-or-Break Player: Garrett Hien
Garrett Hien seemed to really excite Paladin fans when he stepped foot in Greenville. His size alone gives him the ability to be a force in the SoCon. However, Hien has not yet had the opportunity to be a full-time starter. That will more than likely change this season, and if he can continue to develop his game, he can be the inside force that truly balances the Furman attack.
There is no shortage of talent in the guard group for the Paladins. However, aside from Slawson (whose versatility allows him to play just about anywhere), Hien will have to be the guy to step up and provide more production in the paint.
Analytic to Know: 8th in A/FGM in 2021-22
If you watched the Furman Paladins last year, one thing you would have had to notice is how well they shared the ball. Furman’s ball movement is a thing of beauty when done correctly, and their ability to break down defenses with their passing is clinical. With Bothwell, Slawson, and Foster being the three returning starters on this team, don’t expect that to change this season.
If it feels like you’ve heard it before, you probably have. But, in all sincerity, this has to be Furman’s year. There’s no question that the culture in Greenville has changed, and winning is the expectation. That’s great, but eventually, it won’t be enough without finishing the job. The fan base has been waiting for an NCAA Tournament berth since 1980, and there’s no shortage of fans from rival fan bases there to remind them of that with each passing missed opportunity.
Speaking of opportunities, Furman appears to be loading up their non-conference schedule. The Paladins have yet to release their official non-conference schedule, but other releases have shown match-ups with NC State and Penn State (in a loaded MTE). The SoCon continues to live on without ever having sent a team to the NCAA Tournament via an at-large bid on Selection Sunday. If Furman plays their cards right, they could break that trend if they need it come the second Sunday of March 2023.