Yesterday I took a one-by-one look at the LIU Brooklyn front court players, so naturally today it is time to focus on this season’s Blackbirds guards.
LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri returns back just three scholarship guards from last season and just one starter in Joel Hernandez. This is the part of the LIU roster in which many feel will either make or brake their 2016-17 season.
The biggest question will be at the point guard position in which it will be likely that Perri will go with one of his two incoming freshman, Julian Batts or Jashaun Agosto, as his starting point guard. That competition for that spot in currently underway and it will be a dynamic to pay attention to all season long as the position could a fluid one as the season goes along.
Time to meet the 2016-17 LIU back court players:
Starters* (*These are the three guards I think will be starting when the season tips off on November 11th)
Joel Hernandez – Senior
2015-16 stats: 12.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 30 starts
If there is a player who will be certainly in the starting lineup this season, it is Joel Hernandez. Hernandez started in 30 of the 31 games played last season and finished fourth in the team in scoring and second in rebounding. He has consistently improved his game every season and has done anything and everything that the coaching staff has asked him to do in his first three seasons at LIU. He recorded a career-high three double-doubles last season and also shot a career-high 45 percent from the field.
This season, Hernandez hopes to raise his game even more in hopes of landing on an All-NEC team at season’s end. Hernandez has been compared to one of the last season’s NCAA Tournament starts, Thomas Walkup of Stephen F. Austin by his head coach Jack Perri. Perri plans on using him in a similar capacity as Walkup was used last season, as a player that can play any spot on the floor and that will include the point guard position. Perri has confidence he will be able to excel in this kind of role and Hernandez feels he is more than capable to taking on this challenge. This is certainly taking his game to a whole new level this season if Hernandez can play whatever Perri asks. Hernandez might be one of the most underrated player in the NEC and I have a feeling he is going to have a tremendous season for LIU.
Iverson Fleming – Senior
2015-16 stats: 4.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.2 apg
There is one word that comes to mind when thinking about Iverson Fleming 2015-16 season and that is inconsistent. Fleming started the season as LIU’s starting point guard but that lasted just eight games when he lost his starting position to now-Iona guard Aakim Saintil. Fleming then started seeing his minutes decrease and eventually rode the pine for four straight conference games. Upon his return to the rotation, Fleming still couldn’t break out until a 12-point performance in a loss to Robert Morris in mid-February. In the NEC quarterfinals, Fleming had his best game of the season, scoring 18 points in a win over Sacred Heart.
Although, Fleming for his career is a near 36 percent shooter and shoots 30 percent from three, he is going to be ask to play more shooting guard this season and Perri hopes he can excel at being more of a scorer and a shooter than having to worry about being a playmaker. You’ll probably see him occasionally play the point but his primary role will be to score. Fleming has put up big points in games in the past so if not like he isn’t capable of doing a solid job as a scorer. Whether he can be consistent enough to be a game-in/game-out scorer is what will remain to be seen.
Julian Batts – Freshman
Based on my observations from LIU practice last week, I feel Batts has the early lead on the starting point guard position over fellow freshman Jashaun Agosto. The Pittsburgh native last season was named WPIAL Class A Player of the Year. He averaged over 22.4 ppg and nearly 10 rpg as well as 8.4 apg.
Based on his high school numbers, Batts can obviously fill up a stat sheet. If anything, he looked quite mature and poised for a kid yet to play in his first college game but time will tell if he gets the starting nod or if he gets beat out for the spot. Batts can shoot the ball and has very good range on his shot but Perri likely isn’t going to ask either Batts or Agosto to do too much at least initially but just manage the floor and try to keep the turnovers down and lean on the senior leadership of the starting unit.
Jashaun Agosto – Freshman
Agosto is the other point guard in competition currently for the starting point guard spot. Last season, he averaged 10.5 points, 6.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 steals per game Garfield High School in Washington state.
One advantage Agosto has is that he has great quickness and can get up and down the floor in a hurry. He also has range on his jumper and can penetrate to the rim and draw fouls on his defenders. He could be a good change of pace point guard off the bench. Like Batts, he is going to be asked to keep mistakes at a minimum.
Raul Frias – Sophomore
2015-16 stats: 18 games played, 3/18 FGs, 2/10 3FGs, 8 points
Frias played a limited role off of the bench as a freshman last season. He appeared in 18 games and played in just 86 minutes, making three field goals in 16 shot attempts. This season, with the departure of Martin Hermannsson, he will likely move up on the shooting guard depth chart just behind Iverson Fleming.
Frias definitely looks like a player who went to work over the summer, working on his game, his shot and his body in preparation for the chance of more playing time in sophomore year. Frias should also be pushed by the addition of freshman shooting guard Ashtyn Bradley to the roster which should help motivate Frias to have a better season shooting the ball.
Ashtyn Bradley – Freshman
Bradley is the latest addition from the state of Texas as the Houston-area native arrives in Brooklyn. He averaged 25.4 points per game his senior year last season and his strength is shooting the ball from deep. Bradley has tremendous range on his shot and could see a amount of playing time at either the 2 or the 3 position for Jack Perri’s team off the bench and could see his playing time gradually increase as the season goes along if he proves to can consistently hit his shots.
Mitchell McMullen – Redshirt-Freshman
McMullen is a walk-on point guard who is in his second year with LIU and received a redshirt-year for 2015-16 since he didn’t appear in a single game. Good three-point shooter from what I’ve seen of him in practice.