A Preview of the 2022 Billikens Season – The University News

After a disappointing A-10 loss in the semifinals and a 12-point loss to the University of Northern Iowa in the first round of the NIT tournament. The Billikens are trying to recover after losing players during the offseason.

Markhai Strickland and Rashad Williams entered the portal and are now playing somewhere else. Martin Linsen, one of Billik’s few centers last season, is now playing pro basketball in Germany, his home country. Jordan Nesbit also left. Nesbit’s involvement with SLU was a homecoming for him after playing his freshman year at Memphis but currently attending HBCU Hampton University. Andre Loretsson is now visiting Toledo while Lassina Thaore has signed for Long Beach. Brandon Courtney has graduated but is now serving as the Billikens’ assistant coach. The team also graduated from Deandre Jones. This list includes 7 of the 14 Billikens on last year’s list.

The Billikens have also welcomed many new players, most of them guards. Coach Ford has a trend of recruiting small guards. Contrary to what some might assume, he also has a lot of success with his little guardians. Yuri Collins is a 6’0 point guard and Coach Ford himself is 5’9. Ford played for Kentucky and he found success as a team, averaging 9.5 points for Kentucky in 100 games.

Ford’s new guards include a 6’0 transfer from the University of South Florida, Lamont Evans, Phill Jones from Chicago, Sincere Parker, a community college transfer, and Nick Kramer, a native from SLU High. Javon Pickett is a 5-year-old senior from Missouri who is 6ft 5, while Larry Hughes Jr. is another local pick who attended the CBC for high school. If the name Hughes sounds familiar, that’s because his father played for SLU and was in the NBA for 14 years.

Ford picked up two non-guards in the offseason – Mouhamadou Cissé is the first. His nickname is “Momo” and he is the tallest player on the team with a whooping 6’10. Although the start center job will likely go to Francis Okoro, who took over the start center midway through last season. Jake Forrester’s size and versatility mean Ford could decide to play him as center this season.

SLU NCAA assist leader Yuri Collins scared Billiken fans last season when he announced he had entered the transfer portal. However, after just a few weeks, he announced that he would be returning to SLU for the remaining two years of his eligibility. Yuri is a playmaker for the Billikens and the team relies on his distribution skills.

Gibson Jimerson is another household name on the Billikens list. He averaged a solid 16.3 points last season but is best known for his three-point shooting ability. While Jimerson has been a hugely successful guard for the Bills, he could have a fight for his position this year. With an extensive and varied list this fall, Ford may turn to Parker, Hughes, or Evans for the job.

Ford fielded 12 of their 16 players last Saturday. If you’re looking for one position that’s going to change the most this season, it’s certainly power forward Terrance Hargrove Jr., “TJ,” who played the most tenure last year. However, Pickett was also solid for the Billikens, picking up 12 points against Evansville. Fans will be eagerly awaiting what he can do in the episode.

Fred Thatch Jr. was a solid player for the Bills and was known for creating big games that quickly gained momentum. The Bills also missed Javonte Perkins last season due to a cruciate ligament rupture. The Collins and Perkins combination could prove deadly once the Billikens enter the A-10 game.

Even though Ford is taking the lead in its seventh year, the question has to arise Is this the last year for Ford? The last time Ford led the Billikens to the big dance was in 2019, although that first-round exit wasn’t the best. If the Bills don’t make it past the semi-finals of the A10 Championship, fans could worry about the manager. Even with a combination like Collins, Pickett, Jimmerson and Okoro, the stakes are high for Ford this season.

The Billikens had a nice 12-point lead over Evansville and almost gave it away by allowing Evansville to take a lead late in the first half. Thankfully, the Billikens retook the lead and extended it to more than 10 points. The Billikens have lost a lead of that size at least four times in the past year — beginning with their game against Auburn a team that would go on to become No. 2 in the NCAA tournament. With 8:37 seconds into the game, the Billikens held a 13-point lead and then gambled it away. They did the same against UAB and UMass.

The Billikens can certainly live up to the hype that surrounded them all preseason. In the interests of Ford’s career, Billikens fans are hoping he can have a successful season with the squad he has recruited. With clear prospects for success for the Billikens last season; Now they must get their team back on the NCAA title contenders map. That starts with the elimination of conference teams combined with a stellar conference season. It will be a remarkable A-10 season before the Billikens fulfill their championship ring dreams.