The Temple Owls are coming off the worst basketball season in the history of their program. Never before has the team had 22 losses in a single season.
Now they look to next season, the second season of the American Athletic Conference. Luckily for the Owls, Louisville will not be returning to the conference next year. As fun as it is to play a national powerhouse like Louisville, it’s nice to not have to play them twice a year.
The Owls will look a bit different next season, especially in the paint. That is due to athletes leaving, athletes coming in, and athletes staying.
The big story around Temple sports this week was Anthony Lee’s decision to transfer out of Temple and play elsewhere. Lee is graduating from Temple in May and is a fifth-year transfer going into next season. A fifth-year big man transfer is always the hottest acquisition in college basketball. It does not take up a scholarship spot on the roster and the player is only there for one year, so it requires very little commitment.
Plus it helps that Lee was a fairly effective big man for the Owls this season. He led the entire American Athletic Conference with 8.6 rebounds per game. In a conference with big men like Montrzel Harrell, that is a pretty impressive feat. Lee also averaged 13.6 points per game and shot over 65% from the field.
It is no surprise that strong teams across the nation are interested in Lee. The power forward has dwindled his list down to five teams: Norte Dame, Indiana, Louisville, Ohio State, and Indiana. He is visiting Ohio State, a team who was ranked all season, this weekend.
Dalton Pepper is not going elsewhere, but he has graduated.
Pepper is a shooting guard who was known by Temple fans for his ability to shoot the three ball. He was sixth in the conference in scoring with 17 points per game. He shot 37% from behind the arc. The Owls will surely miss his ability to shoot the three.
Athletes Coming In
There are really three key players coming to play for the Owls next year. That will be really helpful considering they had a short bench all season once Daniel Dingle when down and with Nick Pendergast still taking up a roster spot.
Jaylen Bond is the biggest name for the Owls this year. He is a transfer from Texas who went to Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, just minutes from Philadelphia. Bond’s numbers in Texas were small due to lack of minutes, but he is more of a defensive player.
Bond brings a big presence down low for the Owls. He is 6’7 224 pounds and could be the big body Temple needs under the basket. He is a great replacement for Lee, who seemed to get pushed around down low at times.
Devin Coleman is another transfer name for Temple that is getting attention. He is another Philly native that transferred from Clemson to play with the Owls. He’s a redshirt sophomore so he will still have another year of eligibility after next season.
Coleman was another player that did not play much at his former school. He tore his Achilles in 2012 and missed the entire 2012-13 season. He played only 10 minutes in 2013-14 because he transferred to Temple mid-season. He’s a shooting guard who can replace Dalton Pepper and potentially help on the outside defensively.
The third big name coming to North Broad Street is Obi Enechionyia. He’s a power forward coming in a freshman from Saint James High School in Virginia. ESPN ranks him as a four star recruit.
Enechionyia is another presence down low that can help the Owls out without Lee. Defensively, the Owls were arguably the worst team in the conference. Lee was not a great defensive threat to opposing big men, and with a healthy mix of Bond and Enechionyia, the Owls defensive presence down low will grow.
A reason many Temple fans were optimistic about the 2014-15 season is because the Owls only lost one senior. Losing Lee was obviously a big hit, but a young team that played a lot of close games against good teams shows a lot of promise.
Will Cummings stepped into form late in the season, becoming a strong threat offensively and defensively. He was Temple’s leading scorer with 16.8 points per game. He opened up a lot of good looks for Dalton Pepper behind the arc as well. Cummings is a leader on the court and was a big reason for some of Temple’s wins this past season.
Quenton Decosey is a player that many look to become the star of the team. His talent leads fans and experts to believe that he could become a great player if he shared the ball and found the open look a little bit more.
Decosey shot just over 41% from the field this season and only 2.4 assists per game. He is an all-around player offensively and defensively, and could become a conference leader if he fixes up his game a bit.
Josh Brown and Mark Williams will both be sophomores next season. Brown has the potential to be a top defensive player in the conference if he gets the minutes. Williams is a versatile player who can throw his weight around down low as well as shoot the ball from deep. More experience for these two young hopefuls will only benefit the Owls next season.
The biggest question on the team going forward is Devontae Watson. Watson got noticeably better throughout the season as he began playing more, plus he is the only true center on the team. Many feel that if Watson can become a big rebounder and scorer down low, he will help the Owls succeed greatly.
Losing Lee was a big loss for the Owls going into next season, but Bond and Enechionyia will both create a stronger defensive presence down low. Temple was a good scoring team in 2013-14, and they could become a conference contender with better play defensively next season.