Home US SportsNCAAB Who will start for Bradley basketball? The Braves and the new-look Missouri Valley

Who will start for Bradley basketball? The Braves and the new-look Missouri Valley

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PEORIA — Bradley basketball heads into May with a wealth of lineup options after a strong five-man class of newcomers filled their roster for the 2024-25 season.

May is for camps, the beginning of the scheduling process, and figuring out who is going to fill those starting lineups. So, let’s take an early speculative look at Bradley’s possible lineups ahead of a new-look 2024-25 season in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Bradley basketball roster 2024-25: Who has eligibility remaining?

Scouting Bradley’s starters for 2024-25

The Braves have had center Darius Hannah working on his 3-point shooting this offseason. It’s possible he’ll get a test at the 4 spot. That will likely depend somewhat on the development of 6-foot-10 newcomer Corey Thomas, second-year big Almar Atlason and 7-foot-1 Ahmet Jonovic as potential solutions at the 5 spot.

There would appear to be three starters etched in place: Duke Deen at point guard, Zek Montgomery at the 2-guard or wing, and Hannah at the 4 or 5 spot.

The Braves are deep and versatile. They could play with Deen and Montgomery at guards, Christian Davis at wing, Hannah at the 4 and Thomas at 5 and bring Atlason off the bench.

Or they could go with Deen at point guard, former Notre Dame star and fifth-year guard Connor Dillon or Demarion Burch at 2-guard, Montgomery at wing, Davis at the 4 and Hannah at 5 and have Atlason and Thomas off the bench.

Davis could come off the bench, too, while Atlason, Thomas and Jonovic all battle for two forward slots. There are multiple combinations that could work, and head coach Brian Wardle will find them once camp begins.

Who is on Bradley’s schedule for 2024-25?

Bradley head coach Brian Wardle talks with his players as they try to rally against Cleveland State in the final minutes of their nonconference basketball game Friday, Dec. 15, 2023 at Carver Arena. The Braves fell to the Vikings 76-69.

Bradley head coach Brian Wardle talks with his players as they try to rally against Cleveland State in the final minutes of their nonconference basketball game Friday, Dec. 15, 2023 at Carver Arena. The Braves fell to the Vikings 76-69.

Later this spring, the task of building Bradley’s schedule will begin. Wardle says that process will start sometime in May, after teams finish their rosters and assess what kind of team they have.

He says the process heats up in July. Bradley has no return games from past contracts, all its game agreements are fulfilled. So the Braves schedule is wide open for 2024-25.

New Missouri Valley coaches for 2024-25

Cuonzo Martin embraces former Missouri State Athletic Director Bill Rowe after Martin was introduced as the head coach of the Missouri State mens Basketball team during a press conference on Monday, April 1, 2024.Cuonzo Martin embraces former Missouri State Athletic Director Bill Rowe after Martin was introduced as the head coach of the Missouri State mens Basketball team during a press conference on Monday, April 1, 2024.

Cuonzo Martin embraces former Missouri State Athletic Director Bill Rowe after Martin was introduced as the head coach of the Missouri State mens Basketball team during a press conference on Monday, April 1, 2024.

The 2024-25 campaign could be known as the season of change in the Missouri Valley Conference.At least at the helm for nearly half the league’s team. Missouri State, UIC, Southern Illinois, Drake and Indiana State all have new head coaches. Here is a look:

Transfer portal: The Missouri Valley basketball players in the NCAA transfer portal

  • Indiana State: Matthew Graves takes over for Josh Schertz after a landmark season. Schertz moved on to SLU. Graves, who was associate head coach since 2021 at Indiana State, takes over a program hit by 10 players departing for the NCAA transfer portal. Among those who exited were star center Robbie Avila and guards Isaiah Swope, Jayson Kent, Julian Larry and Ryan Conwell, all of them all-MVC players.

  • Drake: The departure of Darian DeVries to West Virginia opened the door for Ben McCollum. He is the architect of an NCAA Div.-II dynasty program at Northwest Missouri State University. He capped his 15 seasons there with national championships in 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2022. He went 394-91 and won five NABC Div.-II national coach of the year awards.

  • Illinois-Chicago: The Flames fired coach Luke Yaklich after four seasons and have brought in Rob Ehsan. The former head coach at UAB spent the last three seasons as associate head coach and offense coordinator for Pac-12 Conference team Stanford. He was lead recruiter for the Cardinal, and his offense ranked among the top 35 in the nation.

  • Southern Illinois: The Salukis dispatched Bryan Mullins on Arch Madness tournament weekend. In his place comes Scott Nagy, the former Wright State and South Dakota State coach whose 577 career wins ranks 18th among active NCAA Div.-I coaches. He was a three-time Horizon League coach of the year with Wright State and took the team to the NCAA and NIT tournaments. Nagy was on the coaching staff at the University of Illinois, under Lou Henson, with the Illini team that reached the Final Four in 1989.

  • Missouri State: The Bears fired Dana Ford at the end of the Arch Madness tournament and made their old coach the new coach. They brought back Cuonzo Martin, who led the Bears to their only Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship in 2011. He has a 264-198 career record in 14 NCAA Division-I seasons at the helm in Missouri State (2008-11), Tennessee, California and Missouri. His teams have made nine postseason appearances in that span, including four each in the NCAA and NIT.

Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men’s basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. He can be reached at 686-3206 or deminian@pjstar.com. Follow him on X.com @icetimecleve.

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Bradley basketball roster 2024-25: Starters, schedule and new-look Missouri Valley

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