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Team Preview: The Bigs

Dion Wright might hustle his way to another big season for the Bonnies.

On paper, coach Mark Schmidt might have the most front line depth he’s had at St. Bonaventure.

Of the sixth frontcourt players on the roster, three were regular pieces of the Bonnies’ rotation last season and another showed flashes that he can be steady contributor this year. There are few frontcourt duos in the Atlantic 10 better than Youssou Ndoye and Dion Wright.

With the graduation of guards Matthew Wright and Charlon Kloof, much more of the Bonnies’ offense should go through Ndoye. The 7-footer earned preseason third team all-Atlantic 10 thanks to strong finish last season. He must carry that momentum into the new season.

Dion Wright was easily the most improved Bonnie last year. Wright’s numbers jumped from 2.8 to 8.7 points and 1.9 to 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the field.

Last season Wright served as a spark off the bench. This year he is expected to be an integral piece of the Bonnies starting lineup.

Chris Dees and Denzel Gregg, meanwhile, are solid, if not spectacular reserves.

Chris Dees is a capable backup for the Bonnies.

Dees is limited offensively in the post, but he has nice touch from 14-17 feet. He is capable of playing both frontcourt positions and can be relied on for 15-20 minutes a game if needed.

Gregg showed flashes during his rookie season that he can be the Bonnies’ sparkplug sixth man like Dion Wright was last year. Despite appearing in only 26 games, he finished second on the team with 16 blocked shots.

Xavier Smith and newcomer Jordan Tyson are projects and not expected to see much playing time.

Smith came to SBU from Texas recommended by former Bonnie Tyler Relph. He only played in 10 games as a freshman and had little impact.

This will likely be another developmental season for Smith, who possesses the type of ample length and athleticism that may help him break into the Bonnies rotation next year. He has good tutors in Schmidt and assistant coach Dave Moore.

Tyson is also a work in progress, through one with great upside. At 6-10, 225 pounds, the freshman has the body to compete in the Atlantic 10 now. Once Tyson’s basketball skills catch up to his size, the Bonnies should have a solid big man.

Though lacking low post proficiency, Tyson shot 68 percent from the field and 79 percent from the foul line last season at Fishburne Academy (Va.). Those numbers reveal Tyson’s potential.

A player-by-player breakdown of the Bonnies’ frontcourt:

Youssou Ndoye Averages 13 points and 7 rebounds or more per game, validating his preseason A-10 selection and taking pressure off SBU’s newcomers in the backcourt. Continues to be bogged down by inconsistency and foul trouble, like last season when he finished with 7 points or less in 14 games and with 4 rebounds or less in 10 games while fouling out three times and finishing with four personal fouls 10 times.
Dion Wright  Makes similar strides as last season, advancing to among the top forwards in the A-10 and combining with Ndoye to form the conference’s most fearsome frontcourt. Doesn’t adapt well to new role as starter and numbers plateau at around 9 points and 5 rebounds per game.
Chris Dees  Uses his 260-pound frame effectively to defend, rebound and score on put backs and short jumpers when Ndoye encounters foul trouble. Becomes disenchanted with reserve role behind Ndoye and loses motivation to provide competent minutes off the bench.
Denzel Gregg  Shows improvement similar to Wright’s last season and becomes a dependable and versatile defender, as well as a steady option on the offensive end. Struggles with increased role and the challenge of guarding stronger post players in the A-10.
Xavier Smith  Continues to develop and gain strength, allowing him to play in spot duty when team encounters foul trouble and injuries. Loses drive to improve and develop because of limited playing time and gives up on opportunity to grow into team’s rotation as a junior and senior.
Jordan Tyson  Picks up on college game quickly and develops offensive skill set to steal backup position from Dees. Lacks ability and skill to contribute in Year 1.
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