With only three games scheduled according to ESPN and the season supposedly set to start this month, there are few certainties for the Boston College Men’s Basketball 2020-21 season. One thing that is certain is that in terms of returning talent no group could impact the team’s fortunes more than these sophomores. Arguably one of the most important returning Eagles is a sophomores.
Let us take a closer look at the Eagles’ sophomore class.
Heath was a major revelation this past season from the very beginning, stepping in to fill the void left by the injured Wynston Tabb. Heath became one of the Eagles’ go-to weapons leading the team in minutes played with 33.3, finishing 2nd on the team in scoring, and setting the freshman record for three-pointers with 65. It was Heath who hit the game winner against Notre Dame, one of the season’s highlights. Heath may be BC’s most important returning player from last season and is definitely the most exciting. His strong perimeter game complimented Derryck Thornton’s as Thornton often looked to drive to the basket and Heath provided a reliable option for Thornton to kick the ball out to.
This year, Heath will have a new partner, most likely Wynston Tabb (unless Makai Ashton-Langford has improved dramatically since his days at Providence College), and with the Covid hampered off-season and Tabb’s injury last year, it is likely that the two will need a few games to become well-acquainted. But the combined talent has a lot of potential. I’d be shocked if Heath was not in the starting lineup for game one and not one of BC’s leading scorers.
Felder is a player who, while not starting out as strong as Heath, improved as the year went on. This is due in part to earning greater minutes with the periodic absences of Jairus and Jared Hamilton (grrr) and Nik Popovic. Felder started 18 of the 31 games he appeared in, but only averaged 5.6 points and 3.9 rebound per game. However, what’s more important is the playing experience he gained. His 20.5 minutes per game were more than he probably would’ve gotten had the Hamiltons and Popovic been healthier.
At times, Felder was exposed and showed his inexperience. Yet, for every mistake Felder made he also displayed how much potential he really has. Felder also has some competition at forward this season with the arrival of grad-transfers Andre Adams and Frederick Scott, who bring size and experience to the Eagles’ front court. The good news is that considering his scoring productivity (especially from beyond the arc) Scott may play a more small forward/wing position and that means Felder will be mainly competing with Adams. Again, Covid could come into play. Felder may have a slight advantage as he doesn’t have to learn any of BC’s plays, but he may also have a disadvantage as Adams doesn’t need to develop as much. Another big question is whether Jim Christian chooses to go small like he did last year or whether he uses either Kraljevic or Karnik as a true center, because that will be two more players to compete with for minutes.
Like C.J. Felder, Kamari Williams saw more of the court than he likely would have had due to teammates’ injuries. Williams started the final three games of the season and played a key role in BC’s second half comeback and overtime win over Virginia Tech. Williams’s role is definitely that of a wing player, a small forward, and with the departure of Jared Hamilton (I’m not still salty about that, you are!), that opens up the chance for Williams to build on last season. However, just like with Felder, the arrival of Adams and Scott means two more people Williams has to compete with for playing time. It is hard to imagine that Williams will beat out Scott in particular for minutes. Scott is 6’8”, 230 lbs and was a 47% shooter from the floor, 40% from three-point land, and averaged 12.6 points per game. Williams at 6’7”, 200 lbs is smaller and while possessing potential, I don’t see this as the year he breaks into the starting role.
Kenny saw time last year but only late in games during garbage time. With the return of Wynston Tabb and with Makai Ashton-Langford coming off a red-shirt season, plus the new freshman guards, and grad transfer Rich Kelly, I don’t see Kenny’s role expanding beyond what it was last year unless injuries or Covid really take their toll on the Eagles.
Noel saw even less playing time than Kenny and as stated above this just isn’t the year for Noel to break into the starting lineup unless something really drastic happens.