Saint Louis Basketball - Under The Radar

November 1, 2018 | Liam Blutman

Saint Louis Billikens

I’m anxiously awaiting the start of the college basketball season and I’m very eager to watch the Saint Louis Billikens, who I believe have what it takes to win the A-10 and make the Sweet 16 come NCAA Tournament time.

What does a mid-major have to do in order to qualify for the NCAA Tournament despite not winning their conference tournament? Schedule tough non-conference and win a few of those games, and play very well in conference.

The Billikens have a solid non-conference schedule. Here are some of those games... @ Seton Hall, Pittsburgh (Brooklyn, NY), Butler, Oregon State, @ Houston, and Florida State (Sunshine, FL). Those are six quality games, and Saint Louis would put themselves in an excellent position by winning four of those games. Last season SLU went 17-16 (9-9 in conference) but had a huge win over Virginia Tech at Madison Square Garden. This win showed SLU was headed in the right direction and has a bright future. Butler, Houston, and Oregon State are all common opponents from last season, and the Billikens dropped all three games and look for revenge this season. As for the A-10… we all know it’s a strong mid-major conference and is well respected in college basketball. Competing strongly in this league will bode well for their tournament hopes as well.

Who are some impactful players on Saint Louis? Let’s start off with Jordan Goodwin, a sophomore guard and former top 50 recruit in his class. Jordan showed flashes of brilliance last season as a true freshman – in the regular season finale vs. La Salle, Jordan scored 28 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, and got 2 assists. He shot 13/16 on free throws, which is just incredible, and was 7/14 from the field. When SL took down Virginia Tech, it was Goodwin with a double-double, 19 points/10 rebounds. His best performance came in a win against Duquesne. 13 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists. Triple-double, the kids a stat, sheet, stuffer. As a freshman he averaged 11.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 2.0 SPG in 26 games. I’m most impressed with his rebounding – a 6’3” point guard who is so aggressive at rebounding is so fun to watch. He can definitely take a big step forward this season as his shooting will be a lot more consistent and his PPG should rise to about 14/15.

Next up is incoming freshman, Carte’Are Gordon, another top 50 recruit in his class. Gordon is a 6’9” center who throws down thunderous dunks and will be a huge help down low defensively for the Billikens. In his senior year of high school, Gordon averaged 18.0 PPG and 8.3 RPG, and also totaled for 54 blocks. He’s a guy that will make an impact early and often for SLU, whether he’s scoring down low or swatting shots, on the other end his presence will be felt. This kid will be a huge part of their season. Oh, and did I mention: Gordon broke the backboard in practice the other week – so watch out for this guy… he’s likely a one and done.

Next we have Hasahn French, a 6’7” forward who averaged 9.3 PPG and 7.1 RPG in his freshman season. He had numerous impactful games last year including this one against Detroit where he had 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks. There were nine games last season where French record 3 blocks or more. His scoring will rise to about 12 PPG this upcoming season and his defense paired with Gordon’s should be fantastic. To have two elite shot blockers like these guys will have defenses settling for bad jumpers as they are afraid to attack the paint. French’s 59 blocks were the most by a freshman in school history and his 228 rebounds had him tied for 2nd by a freshman in SLU history. He also shot 53.5% from the field; crazy efficient.

Other players to watch for are Tramaine Isabell Jr. and Javon Bess. Both of these guys transferred to Saint Louis – the new normal in college basketball. Tramaine last played at Drexel where he scored 21.0 PPG. His scoring at guard paired with Goodwin’s unselfishness will make these two a great tandem. Bess came from Michigan State but did play for the Billikens last season. He led the team in scoring with 13.3 PPG. He’s a 6’6” guard that could see looks at the 3 this season when both Isabell Jr. and Goodwin are on the floor together.

I’d be cognizant of this Saint Louis team; they have talented players, a good coach, and a good mix of youth and veteran leadership. They’ll surprise many in non-conference play and keep balling in conference play. I see them going 22-9 on the season and winning the A-10. They should be anywhere from a 8/9/10 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will definitely be a team that 1 and 2 seeds won’t want in their region.

The Billikens will shock college basketball – I warned you all.


Liam Blutman is a first-year student at Santa Monica College bringing a series of articles and editorials about collegiate athletics and young athletes in professional sports. A natural Bruins/Angels fan and solid sports gamer, look for more content coming soon and follow Liam on twitter.

 

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