Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Houston, Memphis tabbed to win the American; Cumberland, Wiseman honored
and Memphis have been selected as the preseason favorites to win the
2019-20 American Athletic Conference men’s basketball title in voting by
the league’s head coaches, the conference announced
a first for The American, two teams tied with the most points in the
preseason poll, as both the Cougars and Tigers finished with 113 points.
seven first-place votes, while Memphis garnered four first-place votes.
2019 American tournament champion Cincinnati Bearcats were selected
third with 94 points and the remaining first-place vote, while Wichita
State was fourth with
88 points. USF was picked fifth with 79 points, followed by UConn (75
points), Temple (72), SMU (47), UCF (40), Tulsa (36), ECU (20) and
senior Jarron Cumberland was named the league’s Preseason Player of the
Year and Memphis freshman James Wiseman was unanimously picked as The
Preseason Rookie of the Year. Cumberland was named the 2018-19 American
Athletic Conference Player of the Year and The American’s Championship
Most Outstanding Player.
won the 2018-19 American regular-season championship, reached the NCAA
Sweet Sixteen, won a program-record
33 games and returns preseason first-team member and 2018-19 Sixth Man
of the Year DeJon Jarreau. The Cougars also welcome five newcomers for
2018-19 American Coach of the Year Kelvin Sampson’s sixth season and
will be looking to make the NCAA Championship
for a third consecutive year.
not return any starters from the 2018-19 squad that reached the NIT and
won 22 games, but the Tigers welcome the No. 1 recruiting class in the
country according to the long-running Recruiting Services
Combined index. Second-year head coach Penny Hardaway’s recruiting
class features five top-100 prospects including Wiseman, who was rated
a new head coach in John Brannen and will look to advance to the NCAA
Championship for the 10th straight season. The Bearcats return three
starters from 2018-19’s tournament championship team,
including Cumberland, who averaged 18.8 points per game last year.
returns three starters and nine letterwinners from a 2018-19 squad that
advanced to the
NIT semifinals. The Shockers will look to advance to the NCAA
tournament for the eighth time in nine seasons under head coach Gregg
Marshall, who enters his 13th season. Amongst the returners is 2018-19
American All-Freshman Team member Dexter Dennis, who
averaged 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last year.
returns all five starters from the team that captured the 2019 CBI
Championship and will look to
return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012 under
third-year head coach Brian Gregory. Laquincy Rideau was named the
league’s Defensive Player of the Year and Alexis Yetna was The
American’s 2018-19 Rookie of the Year. Those players join guard
David Collins to give the Bulls a league-leading three preseason
returns four starters for head coach Dan Hurley’s second season.
Forward Josh Carlton returns after
sharing the league’s Most Improved Player award, while guards Christian
Vital and Alterique Gilbert both earned preseason all-conference nods.
Five newcomers look to push the Huskies back into the NCAA tournament
for the first time since 2016.
advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time in three seasons and
returns 10 letterwinners
for new head coach and Owl legend Aaron McKie. Three starters are back,
including guard Nate Pierre-Louis, who shared Most Improved Player
honors, and second-team guard Quinton Rose.
SMU is ranked eighth in the poll and welcomes eight newcomers for head coach Tim Jankovich’s fourth season.
Forwards Ethan Chargois (12.4 ppg) and Isiaha Mike (11.7 ppg) are the leading returners for the Mustangs.
reached the NCAA tournament second round for the first time in program
history in 2019 and welcomes
10 newcomers in head coach Johnny Dawkins’ fourth season. Forward
Collin Smith is the Knights’ leading returner in scoring at 8.0 ppg.
Tulsa is picked 10th, but welcomes seven newcomers for head coach Frank Haith’s sixth season. The Golden
Hurricane returns two of its top three scorers from 2018-19 in forwards Martins Igbanu (12.5 ppg) and Jeriah Horne (10.1 ppg).
returns only one starter from last season, but it is American
All-Freshman forward and the Pirates’
leading scorer, Jayden Gardner (16.3 ppg). Head coach Joe Dooley is in
the second season of his second stint at ECU and welcomes 13 newcomers.
hired veteran Ron Hunter as its head coach in the offseason. Hunter
brings 445 victories and four
NCAA tournament appearances in 25 seasons as a head coach. The Green
Wave welcomes 11 newcomers into the fold for 2019-20, including
guard/forward K.J. Lawson, who was the 2017 American Rookie of the Year
at Memphis before transferring to Kansas.
2019-20 season begins Nov. 5, while conference play begins with two
league games on New Year’s Eve. Seven of the 11 teams in The American
this year played in
the 2014 postseason, while the 2014-15 season will be the second
straight year in which the conference has the previous season’s NCAA
champion in its ranks.
2020 American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship will
take place March 12-15 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
2019-20 American Athletic Conference Preseason Poll and Honors
Preseason Player of the Year
Jarron Cumberland, Sr., G, Cincinnati
Preseason Rookie of the Year
James Wiseman, Fr., C, Memphis *
Preseason First Team
Jarron Cumberland, Sr., G, Cincinnati *
Quinton Rose, Sr., G, Temple
DeJon Jarreau, R-Jr., G, Houston
James Wiseman, Fr., C, Memphis
Laquincy Rideau, R-Sr., G, USF
Preseason Second Team
Alexis Yetna, R-So., F, USF
Jayden Gardner, So., F, ECU
Nate Pierre-Louis, Jr, G, Temple
Alterique Gilbert, R-Jr., G, UConn
David Collins, Jr., G, USF
Christian Vital, Jr., G, UConn
* unanimous selection
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.