Oakland has nearly all former Big XII starting lineup now.
Remember Oakland’s Kahlil Felder? He left early, but the good news is that there is going to be one nice committee to replace his production on the floor. In fact, it is possible that Oakland may be an even better offensive and defensive team next season.
Scholarship Depth Distribution
Greg Kampe has Oakland back on track and poised for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011, but of course anything can happen in the Horizon League Conference Tournament. Kampe’s fast-paced offense is ready to take on opponents of all kinds and scare the daylights out of their non-conference opposition. Kampe has brought on transfers from major conference programs to help his team attain gaudy numbers and speed up the process of reaching the NCAA Tournament.
Last season was Oakland’s best defensive season since entering the Horizon League. Is it possible that Oakland continues the success on offense and improves on defense? Oakland with an average defense would be scary to envision. Ken Pomeroy’s preseason projection shows a drop-off on offense and an improvement on defense accompanied by a slightly faster pace of play.
Oakland’s Roster, Lost Contributions and Featured Members of the Roster
Kahlil (“Kay”) Felder is now in the NBA with the defending NBA Champion, Cleveland Cavaliers. Felder almost did it all for Oakland, but he actually had quite a bit of help from perimeter threat Max Hooper and interior bruiser Percy Gibson. Jalen Hayes, Sherron Dorsey-Walker and Spring Semester 2016 addition Martez Walker are expected to carry the load for this team.
Kendrick Nunn transferred over from Illinois, but that is actually an inaccurate way of depicting what really happened. Kendrick Nunn was dismissed by Illinois after Nunn was charged with two counts of domestic battery, he would plead guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge. Nunn is getting a second and perhaps last chance by Greg Kampe and Oakland University. Nunn will sit out this season, but will be a part of the Oakland practices.
Stevie Clark will be joining this Oakland team to make up for the loss of Kahlil Felder to the NBA Draft. Clark attended Arkansas Baptist College (a JUCO) and previously attended Oklahoma State. Clark had a bizarre tenure at Oklahoma State and made some interesting waves.
Nick Daniels leads as the returning perimeter shooting threat for Golden Grizzlies, but Dorsey-Walker and Walker should be able to provide plenty of support for the Shooting Guard from Westland, Michigan.
Jalen Hayes is the top returning interior presence and on offense he is dangerous anywhere he touches the ball. He is a potential All-Horizon League Player of the Year candidate.
Oakland will get a lot of work done in the money zones on offense and they like to score in transition, they attempted 25.1% of their shots in transition and had a 60.6% effective Field Goal when doing so. Oakland’s opponents will have opportunities to score in transition as well, 23.1% of shots allowed were transition and opponents shot at nearly a 56% effective Field Goal rate. Oakland was above average in their ability to keep opponents from attempting shots in the restricted arc, but proved to be below average when it came to keeping opponents from scoring there. Oakland was also slightly below average when it came to perimeter defense last season.
Expect more three point shots to come off a rhythm pass than last season as well without Kahlil Felder on the roster.
Featured Members of the Oakland Roster
Stevie Clark is going to be this team’s starting Point Guard and as long as he stays on the straight and narrow, he should be a major asset to this Oakland team. Clark was a highly touted Point Guard who was at one time, ESPN’s #1 recruit from the State of Oklahoma in the Class of 2013. Who was #2? Oklahoma’s Jordan Woodard and ESPN made it quite clear that Clark was light years ahead of Woodard.
How much Clark has changed on the floor after two seasons and off-the-court drama is unknown, but if he can improve upon his performance during a tough time at Oklahoma State, he will make Oakland a difficult team to beat.
Clark is a strong perimeter threat (upgrade over Kahlil Felder) who is a natural distributor with the right guys around him. Oakland has two other student-athletes that played in the Big XII, Clark should have zero problem with making sure that Dorsey-Walker and Martez Walker have scoring opportunities. Clark can stretch the floor and give Jalen Hayes the opportunity to get work done inside the perimeter while forcing opponents to pick their poison defensively.
If Clark can draw fouls, he will be able to knock down the Free Throws. It remains to be seen how he adjusts defensively, but he could be an upgrade over Felder when it comes to defensive efficiency.
He transferred out of Iowa State and is going to have a bigger role on this Oakland team with the departures from the programs due to graduation and the NBA Draft. Dorsey-Walker is strong off the dribble and he is an average three point shooter. If he can improve from the perimeter, it makes him a serious threat off the shot-fake. He needs to find more ways to get himself to the Free Throw Line, but he is an average Free Throw shooter.
He is dreadful inside the perimeter as a shooter, especially between the money zones. He needs to improve as a finisher at the basket.
His ability to rebound is very good for a guard and he will be an asset once again on the defensive glass. He may have more rebounds this season than last because Stevie Clark is not the rebounder that Kahlil Felder was and Oakland did not replace Percy Gibson’s presence.
Walker transferred out of Texas to attend Oakland, which would also be considered inaccurate considering that Walker actually left Texas in the wake of misdemeanor domestic battery charges and a trespassing arrest.
Walker is going to be an even bigger part of the Oakland offense this season as he will be able to play all season long and the scoring distribution is going to be more even.
He’s a strong Free Throw shooter who should draw more fouls (81.7% last season) and take more threes as he was 41.3% long range. On offense, Walker was Mr. Money Zones – 9% of his shots were taken between 4 and 20 feet from the basket.
It is no surprise that his offensive efficiency was through the roof. Defenses have to force him to shoot from mid-range in order to make him less effective. He’s not exactly a strong defender, but this is not a team known for playing defense.
Jalen Hayes is built like the recently graduated Jalen Jones of Texas A&M and Clemson Power Forward Jaron Blossomgame. Hayes does not frequent the perimeter to shoot, but he is dominant inside the perimeter. His ability to rebound and quickness at both posts confounds the opposition.
Hayes should be able to become a double-double per game sort of a post this season. No reason for him not to put up 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. He is going to make a case for himself as the Horizon League Player of the Year.
He had several breakout performances last season, including one in a resounding win at Washington.
UVA shut Hayes down on offense and it may be wise for opposing coaches to examine what UVA’s Pack Line Defense did to deny Hayes a single point.
Expected Starting Lineup for the Oakland Golden Grizzlies
PG: Stevie Clark
SG: Nick Daniels
3G: Sherron Dorsey-Walker
4G: Martez Walker
PF: Jalen Hayes
What to Expect from Oakland this Season
Oakland will participate in the Great Alaska Shootout. The Great Alaska Shootout details are in the graphic after the non-conference schedule.
Oakland is dangerous anywhere they play. They draw in the First Round of the Great Alaska Shootout, Nevada, the CBI Tournament Champions. This is a tournament that includes a Division II school – Alaska – Anchorage and seven mid-major programs. For Oakland, it is an opportunity to stand out above the rest. Talent-wise, this is a team that can win the tournament.
Oakland starts with a pair of MAC programs coming to Rochester, Michigan to face the Golden Grizzlies on their “blacktop” court. The non-conference slate ends in the State of Michigan with a game at the Breslin Center and a home game against UGA. Oakland played Michigan State and UGA very hard last season in a pair of very tightly contested games. It may end up the same way this season. Outside of the conference tournament, these two games against Michigan State and Georgia are their Super Bowl. It is possible that Oakland splits these two games.
The media, coaches and sports information directors picked Valparaiso to repeat as Horizon League Champions in 2016-17. Of course, Valparaiso did not win the Conference Tournament last season. Despite the support for Valparaiso, Oakland (picked second) actually should be the top program in the conference and is the most prepared program to represent the Horizon League with a starting lineup that is straight out of the Big XII. Greater balance and the prospect of better defense should push Oakland into a #13 or #14 seed come March.