Johnell Davis, FAU Owls

The FAU Owls make a move after having their first taste of the American Athletic Conference in NCAA Tournament play.

As is tradition, CBB Review again ranks the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. We will reveal the next team each day until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.

A Cinderella-esque run fell just short. The FAU Owls made a run to the 2023 NCAA Tournament Final Four, but after getting the good bounces, they received the bad bounce.

Coach Dusty May brings back every player except Michael Forrest, an excellent sixth man for the Owls. After the run, this team and some familiar teams joined the American Athletic Conference. Charlotte, North Texas, Rice, UAB, and UTSA will all be in the new conference along with FAU.

After the tournament run, this team was ranked in the preseason AP poll as the number 10 ranked team. The pressure will be placed on them, and they will have tests in the non-conference.

Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.

Head coach:  Dusty May (6th season, all at FAU)

2022-23 record: 35-4 (18-2)

2023 postseason finish: Lost to San Diego State, 72-71, in Final Four of NCAA Tournament

Notable departures: Michael Forrest (Graduated)

Notable non-conference games: vs. Loyola Chicago (Nov. 8), vs. Butler (Nov. 23, in Florida), ESPN Events Invitational (Nov. 24 & 26), vs. College of Charleston (Dec. 2), vs. Illinois (Dec. 5, at MSG), vs. St. Bonaventure (Dec. 16, in Springfield, MA), vs. Arizona (Dec. 23, in Las Vegas)

Projected Rotation

PG: Nick Boyd (6-3, 170, Rs.-Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 8.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.4 APG, 40.0 3P% 

SG: Alijah Martin (6-2, 185, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 13.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 37.2 3P% 

SF: Bryan Greenlee (6-0, 190, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 7.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 40.4 3P%  

PF: Johnell Davis (6-4, 185, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 13.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 35.7 3P% 

C: Vladislay Goldin (7-1, 240, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 10.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 0.4 APG, 1.2 BPG, 62.5 FG% 

6: Giancarlo Rosado (6-8, 239, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 5.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 63.5 FG% 

7: Jalen Gaffney (6-3, 185, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 4.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.3 APG

8: Brandon Weatherspoon (6-4, 186, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 5.0 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.8 APG

9: Tre Carroll (6-7, 227, So.)

2022-23 stats: 3.4 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.4 APG, 64.1 FG% 

10: Isaiah Gaines (6-8, 225, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 1.8 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 0.2 APG, 61.5 FG% 

FAU Owls MVP: Johnell Davis

He is the Swiss army knife for this team. Johnell Davis is on a few preseason awards watch lists. He does so much for this FAU Owls offense, from his high basketball IQ to his natural talent and hard work.

Davis does some exceptional things on the court. He is a threat to score from anywhere in different facets, from 3-pointers to sky hooks to finger rolls. Davis has some profound offensive ability. Looking at last year in Conference USA., he was second in free throw percentage (85.5%), seventh in points scored (509), and seventh in points per game (13.8). This can see more technical numbers, including 2-point field goals and field goals where he is also ranked. Davis has a slue of advanced areas near the top of C-USA.

This offseason, he had his opportunity to learn from the NBA draft process before returning to FAU. Davis knows what he has to work on. He is impressive on the defensive end and often comes up or finds the ball. Davis was seventh in steals (56) in C-USA, eighth in defensive rebounds (158), and tenth in steals per game (1.5). Besides being a menace on defense, he also sees the floor. Davis finds his teammates and limits mistakes by getting the easier or higher percentage shots. With the notes from the NBA process, Davis is expected to make a leap this year to try to create a pro career in the NBA.

FAU Owls make-or-break player: Vladislav Goldin

Last year, Vladislav Goldin was a disruptor for the Owls. When going inside, the opponent needed to be ready for a fight. He was massive for this team in C-USA as he was fourth in total rebounds (255), fourth in offensive rebounds (97), fourth in blocks (47), sixth in total rebounds per game (6.5), seventh in blocks per game (1.2), and eighth in defensive rebounds (158). Goldin was vital in second-chance opportunities and shot alteration, and standing 7-foot-1 could be a big part of his success as this team transitions to the AAC. This year, he will have some real competition, with the big men being a little heavier while being more athletic. Goldin may take a step back as the new bigs are also 3-point shooters, and when he tries to defend, he may lose a step. The chance is there, but I am worried to see how he does with the barrage teams will try to throw at him.

While there are worries, Goldin was also effective offensively. This other area could be affected by more challenging competition. He succeeded in the C-USA, ranking in the top ten in various offensive categories. The one that stands out is their 2-point field goal percentage (62.5%), where he was sixth. The advanced metrics like him more with his player efficiency rating, win share, and true shooting percentage. Goldin can score and does so at the right time. He has a good time and can sneak behind defenses on pick-and-rolls or just a slight drift behind his defender. An issue he had last year was his cardio. He ended up playing over 25 minutes only ten times last year.

Key analytic: Effective Field Goal Percentage

Last year, this team was 24th in effective field goal percentage. The Owls will get the best shot from every team it faces this year. This number shouldn’t change much if Coach May can keep this team focused. FAU’s effective field goal percentage was 54.3 last year. The team created good looks and knocked them down. The slight boost in competition could cause this number to drop, but there is something to be said about familiarity in conference play. The change of conference may allow this number to be even better. With no actual losses, this team’s only difference comes in the competition the Owls will face.

FAU Owls 2023-24 projections

Projected conference finish: 1st in the AAC

Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Final Four Exit

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