Want a sneak peek at college basketball’s Player of the Year for 2019-20? Tune into FloHoops for Seton Hall’s tour of Italy, and you just might get your wish.
Guard Myles Powell opting to return to college after testing the NBA draft waters positions the Pirates as leading contenders for the Big East Conference crown.
His last time out came in the first round of last season’s NCAA Tournament, and his shootout with Wofford’s Fletcher Magee delivered one of the highlights of March. Powell dropped 27 points and knocked down four 3-pointers in that one. What he has in store for his return to the hardwood should be just as exciting.
Or, at least, his return in a Seton Hall uniform: Powell is in action in the days prior to the Italian tour in another hemisphere, leading Team USA in the Pan American Games. He’s playing for an all-Big East team in Peru, which includes teammate Myles Cale and Pirates coach Kevin Willard.
The trio then globetrot to Europe, an initial step on a promising year.
Seton Hall’s Aug. 7-16 tour with games in Vincenza, Pisa and Frascati sets the tone for what could be a special year—not the least of which is Powell’s individual campaign. He averaged 23.1 points per game in 2018-19, a jump of almost eight per from his 2017-18 average, and 12th overall in the nation.
Continuing on his year-to-year growth in each of the previous three seasons with the Pirates, Powell is a prime candidate to lead the nation in scoring next season.
Not that reaching such an individual milestone will be Powell’s focus. A dynamic playmaker at the point, the Pirates offense will flow through him to any number of talented returners who make up the roster.
While exhibition tours for some programs offer opportunity for rebuilding squads to jell, Seton Hall takes to Italy with a solid corps of veterans.
“This is a great group,” Powell told NCAA.com’s Andy Katz in June. “I wasn’t ready to leave yet.”
Back in the fold are guards Myles Cale (10.2 points, 4.1 rebounds per game in 2018-19) and Quincy McKnight (9.4 points, 3.9 assists per game). Big man Sandro Mamukelashvili made significant strides a season ago with averages in the neighborhood of a double-double (8.9 points, 7.8 rebounds).
Florida State transfer and promising center Ike Obiagu also gains eligibility. The Italian tour is the public’s first look at Obiagu in blue-and-white.
The addition of Obiagu to a frontcourt with Mamukelashvili and Taurean Thompson builds an interior that complements the Powell-led backcourt. Obiagu had a staggering 20.9 block percentage in his freshman season at Florida State, which—if it translates over—should help improve a Seton Hall defense that ranked 110th nationally in opponent field-goal percentage.