It’s that time of year again. Hope fills the air for all 352 Division-I teams. For each City 6 team in particular, there is definitely something to bring excitement heading into the year.
Maybe it’s Championship aspirations, exciting players, new faces. We’ll tell you what you need to know and take a look into each City 6 program in this preview.
After going 45-70 in four years at La Salle, the Explorers parted ways with Head Coach Ashley Howard and decided it was time to move on to a new face.
Well, not so new to La Salle or anybody in Philadelphia for that matter.
The Explorers decided on former Penn and Temple Head Coach and La Salle graduate Fran Dunphy to lead the charge.
When Dunphy was hired, it almost felt like the entire team fled to the transfer portal, but Dunphy did a good job of retaining key guys like Jhamir Brickus, Anwar Gill, and Khalil Brantley.
Guard play should be the key for this Explorers team this season. Brickus and Brantley bring a yin and yang effect to La Salle with Brickus being the more pace guy and Brantley being the ball of energy. Both will play next to Josh Nickleberry who Dunphy said will be more of a spot up shooter this season.
The question with this team surrounds the frontcourt. Dunphy was pretty progressive in the transfer portal, landing the Drame twins, Hassan and Fousseyni from the March cinderella St. Peter’s team. Neither however are a traditional center. That spot should be reserved for Mamadou Doucoure.
We’ll see how a rejuvenated Dunphy performs in his first season at the helm for a program that he said was “the only job he would come back to coaching for.”
Taking a look at another Atlantic-10 team here in the Hawks, they should be a lot of fun to watch this season highlighted by incredibly dynamic guards.
Coach Billy Lange has brought on a ton of new faces this year to go with some familiar ones.
Of the new faces, Lynn Greer III brings some excitement to the backcourt to go along with sophomore guard Erik Reynolds. Greer, a former Roman Catholic student, come back home after playing 10 games for inter-conference foe Dayton.
Christian Winborne is a freshman guard who brings a ton of speed and you can expect to see a lineup consisting of those three guards at some points in the game Lange told me.
Cameron Brown is a 6-foot-5 guard who will start at the three to go along with Kacper Klaczek who will likely start at the four.
Ejike Obinna will look to continue his Hawk Hill success this year playing Center and both Greer and Reynolds said he has been in much better shape this year to go along with their high paced tempo. Charles Coleman and Anton Jansson will look to spell Obinna off the bench at the 5.
Two freshmen to look out for will be Rasheer Fleming and Christ Essandoko. Fleming is a lengthy forward who has shown great defense in their two exhibition games and Essandoko is a name that teammates gave me to look out for this year.
No, you won’t see Jay Wright roaming the sidelines anymore this season, but the Wildcats couldn’t have found a better replacement in Kyle Neptune.
We’ll see how much that translates into wins, but Neptune has spent quite a long time on the Main Line as an assistant for the Wildcats under Wright.
Observing practice and talking to players, a lot of the verbiage and the routines are very much the same as they were under Wright, so that will make the transition much easier than it might’ve been.
The Wildcats will start the season a little undermanned with Justin Moore still recovering from his Achilles injury he suffered in the Elite Eight, and star freshman Cam Whittmore will be out due to a thumb injury. The latest update has him day-to-day.
Still, the Wildcats bring back 3/5 starters from their Final Four team with Caleb Daniels, Eric Dixon, and Brandon Slater all returning.
There are a couple of unknowns with this team, however. How will guys such as Mark Armstrong, Brendan Hausen and Angelo Brizzi look? Will Trey Patterson, Jordan Longino, and Nnanna Njoku play a pivotal role this season in their second years? Is Chris Arcidiacono going to be the backup 1? With a lot of questions comes a lot of excitement and this Villanova team will be one of the more fascinating teams to follow in the city.
Just like St. Joe’s, guards, guards, and more guards will be the storyline with this Owls team. Damien Dunn returns for his third season and here’s to hoping he gets a full season playing alongside Khalif Battle. The Butler transfer has only played 18 games with the Owls in two seasons. If healthy, this will be one of the better backcourts in the AAC.
Coming off the bench, Hysier Miller should bring a much-needed spark to the second unit. Owls are a comfortable 3-deep at the guard spot.
The questions come at just about every other position. Will any of Zach Hicks, Jahlil White, or Nick Jordain make a significant jump as a solidified third scorer? The frontcourt will bring a ton of variables and it will be interesting to see how Aaron McKie deploys his weapons.
Jamille Reynolds, Taj Thweatt, Kur Jonkguch, and Emmanuel Okpomo should be competing for the starting center spot.
McKie seems to have things on the right track and hopefully this team stays relatively healthy to give them a fair chance.
Steve Donahue’s Quakers have been picked first in this season’s Ivy League men’s preseason poll and anything lower than Ivy Madness would be a colossal failure.
The Quakers come in ten deep, maybe even more with some new guys this season and bring back a ton of scoring to a team that reached the conference tournament once again last season.
Jordan Dingle comes back after scoring 20.9 ppg last season, and should even improve on that mark. Clark Slajchert and Jonah Charles round out the guard spots. Max Martz has solidified himself as a legit Ivy League wing and Michael Moshkovitz should be seeing significant playtime at the 5 between him and Max Lorca-Loyd.
On the bench, the Quakers have a legit second unit with Lucas Monroe, George Smith, Nick Spinoso, and Andrew Laczkowski.
Cam Thrower is an intriguing freshman along with Chris Ubochi, and Eddie Holland III, Reese McMullen, and Gus Larson might see some significant playing time in their second season.
An experienced group, it would not surprise me if you see Penn challenging Villanova for the Big 5 title.
After winning the CAA Tournament in 2021, the Dragons came up short last season, and there isn’t a ton leftover.
Cam Wynter, Xavier Bell, Melik Martin, and James Butler are all no longer apart of the program due to graduation or transfer.
The Dragons do bring back Amari Williams though, who is one of the best bigs in the CAA and the city.
Coletrane Washington and Lamar Oden Jr. come back as the backcourt. Mate Okros will receive playing time as a forward.
Other than that, there are A TON of questions with unfamiliar players. Zach Spiker’s crew brings in six freshmen and a couple of transfers and lightly used sophomores.
It’ll be interesting to see the minutes allocation that Spiker uses this season.