Mid-Major Top Returning Guards: #1 – Terry Taylor, Austin Peay

If you were to gaze at the Austin Peay men’s basketball statistical leaders in major categories, you may think you were simply looking at the statistics for Terry Taylor. The rising senior led his squad in points, rebounds, steals, and blocks as well as field goal percentage among regulars. Taylor has dominated the Ohio Valley Conference for two years now, and when he announced his decision to return to Austin Peay for his senior season, the Governors must have breathed a sigh of relief. With the announcement of his return, Taylor became our #1 returning mid-major guard in the country, finishing off our countdown. Although Taylor played minutes at forward, he is listed by ESPN as a guard, and he’s one of the most versatile players in the country. 

Taylor has been a difference-maker since his debut collegiate campaign, and his production has only increased in the subsequent seasons, improving from 15.6 points and 8.6 rebounds as a freshman to 21.8 points and 11 rebounds last year, fuelling the Governors as they battled in a heated three-team race of the Ohio Valley Conference. And it wasn’t just the OVC falling victim to Taylor’s talent, as the mid-major star proved himself against a bevy of Power-5 squads. He dropped 18 points and 9 rebounds on Georgia and combined for 39 points and 12 boards against West Virginia and Arkansas before entering conference play. Once there, Taylor was nearly automatic, as he racked up double-doubles, earning 18 on the year, a mark which ranked 7th in the nation.

 Against conference-leading Belmont, Taylor posted an absurd 26-point, 23-rebound effort in a tough road loss, and when it came time for the postseason, Taylor didn’t slow down; in two conference tournament games, the Bowling Green, Kentucky product poured in 27 points in both contests, to go with a combined 22 rebounds. A 55% shooter, Taylor did a lot of his damage inside the arc, but if he unlocks his shot from beyond the arc, he boasts All-American talent and versatility. On the defensive side of things, Taylor led the Governors in both steals and blocks per game, making him an impact player on both ends of the court. 

Taylor’s tremendous versatility and production on both offense and defense for one of the best teams in the Ohio Valley Conference earned him the #1 ranking in our top returning mid-major guard countdown.

Mid-Major Top Returning Guards: #3 – De’Torrion Ware

We’re heading into the weekend, and with that, we’re getting into the final stages of our top returning mid-major guards heading into the 2020-21 season, as today we feature our #3 guard in De’Torrion Ware of Jacksonville State. Ware largely functioned as the sixth man for the Gamecocks last season, averaging 20.8 minutes per game; however, despite the limited minutes, Ware was second on the team in both scoring (11.9 points per game) and rebounds (5.3). With leading scorer Jacara Cross graduated, Ware looks likely to see a significant uptick in his minutes and scoring opportunities, making him a dangerous player to watch, both in the Ohio Valley Conference, and in the nation as a whole. 

As mentioned before, Ware had limited opportunities to shine in his sophomore season, but when the Kentucky product had his chance, he thrived. In his lone game that he played over 30 minutes, Ware tortured conference-leading Belmont for 25 points and 14 rebounds, punctuating a three-game stretch in which Ware scored 73 points on 63% shooting. It was his best stretch of the season, but Ware proved to be a force when offered extended time on the court – he averaged 16 points per contest in which he played 25+ minutes. 

Ware has also proven to be more than competent against tougher competition outside the A-10 – in the early-season Emerald Coast Classic, Ware dropped 43 points and 23 rebounds against the tradition-laden VCU program, Purdue, and Chicago. His efficient performances came despite just 35% shooting from three on the season, but Ware flashed a much more potent deep shot throughout the year, delivering performances of 7-11, 5-8, and 5-9 during the year. As Ware evolves into a more consistent threat from beyond the arc and continues to crash the boards and get to the basket effectively, he will continue to grow into a truly dynamic threat for Jacksonville State, as the Gamecocks look to improve on their 7th-place finish in the OVC this past season.

Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Picks

Before there is March Madness, there…is…Arch Madness. The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament simulates the do-or-die nature of the NCAA tournament, as they never produce multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament, so when the tournament kicks off today, it will be for all the marbles. Here is a breakdown of our bracket predictions, along with our full picks.
Breakdown
Champion Picks: Murray State (2), Belmont (1)
Runners Up Picks: Belmont (2), Murray State (1
Most Common Upset: No upset picked more than once

Nathaniel’s Bracket
First Round
8. Morehead State def. 5. Tennessee State
6. Eastern Illinois def. 7. Jacksonville State
Quarterfinals
3. Austin Peay def. 6. Eastern Illinois
4. Eastern Kentucky def. 8. Morehead State
Semifinals
1. Belmont def. 4. Eastern Kentucky
2. Murray State def. 3. Austin Peay
Championship
2. Murray State def. 1. Belmont

Andrew’s Bracket
First Round
5. Tennessee State def. 8. Morehead State
7. Jacksonville State def. 6. Eastern Illinois
Quarterfinals
3. Austin Peay def. 7. Jacksonville State
4. Eastern Kentucky def. 5. Tennessee State
Semifinals
1. Belmont def. 4. Eastern Kentucky
2. Murray State def. 3. Austin Peay
Championship
2. Murray State def. 1. Belmont

Aidan’s Bracket
First Round
5. Tennessee State def. 8. Morehead State
6. Eastern Illinois def. 7. Jacksonville State
Quarterfinals
3. Austin Peay def. 6. Eastern Illinois
4. Eastern Kentucky def. 5. Tennessee State
Semifinals
1. Belmont def. 4. Eastern Kentucky
2. Murray State def. 3. Austin Peay
Championship
1. Belmont def. 2. Murray State