Feb 27, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Duquesne Dukes forward Jeremiah Jones (23) brings the ball up court past Saint Louis Billikens guard Mike McCall Jr. (11) during the first half at Chaifetz Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Dukes Rated #81 by Joel Welser

I thought I’d start this piece with a little math equation:

Not writing for a while + rare free time + a controversially optimistic outlook for Duquesne in 2014 = rapid reaction piece from me

Each year, Joel Welser of College Sports Madness previews of his top 144 NCAA hoops teams. Each of the last three years including this one, I haven’t even checked it with the expectation that I’d see Duquesne listed. As it turns out, he ranked the Dukes 81st and 8th in the A-10.

His breakdown of the roster is surprisingly comprehensive and in my opinion accurate. He’s big on Micah Mason as many are and thinks he can become a top scorer in the league if he creates his own shot. No real surprise there.

I’m quite impressed with the homework he did on the incoming bigs.

Jordan Robinson figures to be the most impactful of the four eligible newcomers. The 6-8, 255 pound power forward is a bruiser in the paint and that toughness is going to be a great asset from day one for the Dukes. He can back down most defenders and has some decent post moves. TySean Powell will add depth in the frontcourt. Unlike Robinson and his strength, Powell does his damage with his athleticism. His potential is through the roof, but he will need to develop some consistency during his freshman campaign before making a massive impact.

He nails both players for their strengths and weaknesses. Clearly, he’s either seen both play in person or he reads WWTR .  Wesler also gets bonus points for acknowledging Powell’s ceiling as he’s seeing something a lot of college coaches missed.

I think the key difference between Welser’s bullish projection and the outlooks of Duquesne fans that run the gamut from pragmatic to downright pessimistic falls in with deviating feelings on Derrick Colter and Jeremiah Jones. In the end, Welser might have an argument. Colter stats disappointed as a sophomore compared to his gaudy numbers as a freshman and Jones went into a deep midseason slump that crushed his overall performance. What Welser realizes that most of us Dukes over look is class standing. The two are only now heading into their junior years and I can’t once recall Duquesne fans dismissing an upperclassman who has managed to score more than 600 points his first two seasons. If you double his current scoring totals, Colter will end his career as the Dukes’ 18th highest scorer and 3rd in assists. Jones is not going to be an offensive stalwart, but he can defend the opposition’s best guard while keeping them honest at the other end. Look for him to contribute as a solid ball handler, passer and free throw shooter moving forward. If he can do those things and hit the occasional three, he’ll justify his minutes.

Maybe, Welser’s on to something and maybe he’s not. Personally, I think he’s a season ahead of himself with next year’s team setting up as a solid NIT hopeful. If he proves correct, I think Welser and Duquesne fans can set their sights much higher in 2015-16. I think he puts this team at their absolute ceiling, but kudos to him for making a risky pick that even I’d be too afraid to make right now.

Tags: Derrick Colter Duquesne Dukes Jeremiah Jones Joel Welser

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