Drew Pember, UNC Asheville basketball, Mid-Major

CBB Review presents its 2023-24 Preseason Mid-Major All-Americans, featuring some of the best players in the country you’ve never heard of.

With Halloween festivities rounding out, that can only mean one thing: college basketball is almost here. For many fans, their season ended in heartbreak. For fans of UConn, they’ve been letting everyone know about their title for seven months. However, all of that means nothing for 2023-24. And we’re not here to talk about power conference programs. Instead, we’re here to discuss guys who play for teams you probably don’t watch.

With that being said, CBB Review has you covered in presenting the names of guys you may (or may not) have heard of heading into the new season.

First Team

Jr. F DaRon Holmes II, Dayton

2022-23 Statistics: 18.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.9 BPG

Holmes has been a star since stepping foot onto Dayton’s campus. He toyed with the NBA in the off-season but returned to the Flyers, hoping to help them live up to lofty expectations. His trophy case is growing fast, earning Atlantic 10 First Team and Defensive Team honors as well as the A-10 Tournament MVP. Holmes is one of the best bigs in the nation, and one of the most exciting aspects of his game are his thunderous dunks. He will be a big key to Dayton’s success this season.

5th Year F Drew Pember, UNC Asheville

2022-23 Statistics: 21.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, 2.4 BPG

Pember became the first player in Big South history to sweep the awards podium (Preseason MVP, MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Tournament MVP). He had the NCAA’s leading scoring performance, dropping 48 points against Presbyterian during league play. Pember is a deadly shooter from anywhere on the court and has been a revelation to UNCA after coming over from Tennessee. He has a realistic chance to be an All-American if he repeats his stats from last season and is a big reason why the Bulldogs are expected to repeat in the Big South.

Jr. G/F Tucker DeVries, Drake

2022-23 Statistics: 18.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 37.3% 3P

DeVries, similar to DaRon Holmes II, elevated his Missouri Valley Freshman of the Year award to Player of the Year last season. He topped that off with conference tournament MVP honors as well. He’s just the third player in school history to have multiple 500 point seasons and the fourth in school history to score over 600 points in a season. DeVries was one of the most consistent scorers in the nation last season, and is why Drake is considered a dark horse mid-major to do some damage in March.

So. G Aidan Mahaney, Saint Mary’s

2022-23 Statistics: 13.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 40.0% 3P

It’s too bad the WCC doesn’t have a Freshman of the Year award because it would’ve been Mahaney’s. He burst onto the scene for the Gaels immediately and tied Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs for the most Freshman of the Week awards in league history. For all of the excellent players that have come through Saint Mary’s, he became just the second freshman in school history to be named to the WCC First Team. He was also a finalist for the nation’s top freshman award. He will be expected to improve even more and could potentially help the Gaels be the best team in the WCC this season.

Sr. G Jamal Mashburn Jr., New Mexico

2022-23 Statistics: 19.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.1 APG

Mashburn followed coach Richard Pitino from Minnesota to New Mexico and has not disappointed. He led the league in scoring overall and in league play and earned first-team Mountain West honors as a result. Mashburn also scored in double figures in 32 of the Lobos’ 34 games last season. New Mexico had tournament aspirations last season but faltered down the stretch. The Lobos will need a similar campaign from Mashburn to help change their fortunes this season, but the ceiling is high in Albuquerque.

2nd Team

Jr. G Rayshon Harrison, Grand Canyon

2022-23 Statistics: 17.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.6 APG

Harrison brought his playmaking ability from Presbyterian to Grand Canyon immediately. He was a WAC First Team selection and the WAC Tournament MVP, including two 30-point performances during the tournament. He had 12 20-point performances last season and has been a volume scorer ever since touching a collegiate hardcourt. Harrison returned to GCU after toying with the NBA and will be one of the best players on the west coast (and the country). Know the name now before the Lopes bust your bracket in March.

Jr. F Dillon Jones, Weber State

2022-23 Statistics: 16.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.6 SPG

A lot was made about Jones deciding to return to Weber State instead of entering the transfer portal following a flirt with the NBA. That just goes to show how committed Jones is to the program. He is a two-time Big Sky First Team selection, and his 20 double-doubles last season were third in the nation. He’s the only player in school history with at least 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists, and 100 steals. He is poised to potentially break some school records this season (hello Dame Lillard), and will be a big reason why Weber State will return to the top of the Big Sky this season.

Sr. F Enrique Freeman, Akron

2022-23 Statistics: 16.8 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 1.2 BPG

Freeman is one of the best defenders in the nation, having a MAC Defensive Player of the Year award under his belt and now a league first-teamer as well. His 19 double-doubles were fifth in the country, and he also led the MAC in rebounding and blocks. Freeman improved his scoring last season, boosting him to be a more well-rounded player. His efficiency on both ends of the court will be key to an Akron team chasing a league title in an always-competitive conference title race.

Jr. F Tyson Degenhart, Boise State

2022-23 Statistics: 14.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.8 APG

Degenhart’s trophy case is growing fast, going from the Mountain West’s Freshman of the Year two seasons ago to a first-team honoree last season. He led the Broncos in scoring last season and was a big reason why BSU made their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Degenhart should push for Mountain West MVP honors while trying to help Boise State make three straight March Madness appearances.

Jr. G Erik Reynolds II, Saint Joseph’s

2022-23 Statistics: 19.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG

Reynolds was second in the Atlantic 10 in scoring last season, netting him 2nd Team A-10 honors for his efforts. He also earned a spot on the A-10 All-Tournament team and was a Big 5 First-Team selection. Reynolds held to single digits just once during St. Joe’s 33-game campaign last season, including 13 20-point games and five 30-point games. One of the best aspects of Reynolds’ game is his three-point shooting ability. He’s a guy you need to know despite St. Joseph’s being under the national radar coming into the 2023-24 season.

3rd Team

Jr. G Ajay Mitchell, UC Santa Barbara

2022-23 Statistics: 16.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.3 SPG

Mitchell is another player from our selections that went from being a league Rookie of the Year to Player of the Year, this time in the Big West. He capped off last season as the Big West Tournament MVP and as a First-Team selection. He was a double-digit scorer in 30 of the Gauchos’ 35 games last season. It’s scary to think that the native Belgian can only get better as he looks to help UCSB defend its league title.

Sr. G Austin Crowley, Southern Mississippi

2022-23 Statistics: 16.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.9 SPG

After trying to find his footing for three seasons at Ole Miss, Crowley had his breakout season in his first season at Southern Miss in 2022-23. Crowley was voted as the Sun Belt’s Newcomer of the Year and was a first-team selection as well. Like many others on this list, he scored in double-figures most of the season (26 of 33 games). He is a huge reason why Southern Miss had one of the biggest turnarounds last season and is a favorite in the Sun Belt this season.

Sr. G Marques Warrick, Northern Kentucky

2022-23 Statistics: 18.8 PPG, 2.6 APG, 1.3 SPG

Warrick has quietly been one of the most consistent players in the Horizon League over the past three seasons. He was the Horizon League Freshman of the Year two seasons ago and has earned Second Team honors each of the past two seasons. Warrick has improved his scoring and assists in each of his first three seasons, but with so much talent in the league during his time with the Norse, he’s been a bit overshadowed. However, this feels like the season where Warrick could be the league’s player of the year while helping push NKU towards a Horizon League title.

RS Jr. Terrence Edwards, James Madison

2022-23 Statistics: 13.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.2 SPG

Edwards was a breakout star for James Madison last season. He led the Dukes in scoring, and that’s even more impressive when you consider that he did most of his damage coming off the bench. Edwards earned Sun Belt 6th Man of the Year honors for his efforts. He accepted his bench role for most of league play, showing how he is willing to do what it takes to help JMU win. Edwards should slide back into a starting role this season, and his performances will be key in helping the Dukes try to win their first Sun Belt title.

Jr. G Wesley Cardet, Chicago State

2022-23 Statistics: 16.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.0 SPG

Due to Chicago State being a Division I independent, Cardet has no league accolades to show off here. However, watching his highlights speak for themselves, and he would easily have garnered those accolades in almost any mid-major league in the nation. The transfer from Samford helped the Cougars reach double-digit wins for the first time in nine seasons and could help Chicago State reach .500 for the first time since 2009. Don’t neglect the Cougars due to their independent status, and definitely don’t dismiss Cardet as one of the best mid-major players in the country.

Honorable Mention

Kyle Rode, Liberty

Trey Calvin, Wright State

Zeke Mayo. South Dakota State

Keegan Records, Colgate

Kenny Dye, Queens

James Bishop, George Washington

Clarence Daniels, New Hampshire

Jaelen House, New Mexico

Elijah Pepper, UC Davis

Terrell Burden, Kennesaw State

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.