As the start of the basketball season draws closer, expectations are high for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Whether they are fresh faces from the transfer portal or standouts from last year’s squad, most of the starters here have been celebrated and hyped all offseason, and need no introduction. Here are a few snippets of what three of these players are capable of, and what we can expect from them going forward this season.
Through thick and thin last year, Theo Akwuba managed to consistently impress everyone on both sides of the ball. On offense, he put up 98 total offensive rebounds, good for eighth in the country, and 22.5 points per 100 possessions. In eight games, he recorded a field goal percentage of 75 or more. Defensively, he recorded 68 blocks, good for eighth in the nation. Keep in mind, these numbers were tallied across 26 regular-season games, when some teams played as many as 33.
A junior this year, with a chance at more games and even more minutes to play, don’t be surprised if he brings home a handful of awards. A Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year and an All-Louisiana Team are definitely in play for this star.
Against a very strong schedule at St. John’s University last year, Greg Williams Jr. averaged 15.4 points per 40 minutes and shot 44.8% from three-point land, which ranks fourth nationally; however, his volume was low at just 3.9 attempts per 40 minutes. He is also an underrated defender, averaging 2.1 steals per 40 minutes and posting an above-average defensive rating a season ago. Despite this success, there is still room to improve as his defending was a bit inconsistent last season.
Expect Williams to take and make more open shots this year as the defensive attention will likely lighten up in response to the talent around him. The team’s overall playmaking will inevitably give him the chance to spread the floor and get more open looks. His fast-break opportunities are bound to increase as well, with the amount of forced turnovers the team generates.
The lone senior on this team, Dou Gueye, has been a solid two-way forward for his entire tenure at UL-Lafayette, averaging almost 20 points and 14.9 total rebounds per 100 possessions across both playing seasons. He’s a very efficient, unselfish player, rarely needing double-digit shot attempts to get his scoring in.
The main area to watch for Gueye should be his free throws. Out of teammates who attempted 10 or more free throws last season, Gueye had the lowest make percentage at just 57%. He’s capable of much better. In the 2019-20 season, he averaged almost 75% with a significantly greater volume. If his form in this area improves, his scoring totals may stand out significantly, even from the other bigs on this team.
(*All stats compiled from Sports Reference CBB unless otherwise stated.)