Creighton Reloads…Business as Usual.
Jays belong in the Preseason Top 25 Polls
WTE Preseason Forecast Creighton Bluejays
Using the CBS 25+1 preseason Poll as a guide, using their format and train of logic, here is my quick take on where the Bluejays fall during the early preseason. This way-too-early forecast should be seen as a guide to the upcoming Jays season, and a reasonably accurate arc of the 2021+22 season for CU. This is an unofficial Bluenotes way too early forecast. Official predictions are annually published every August 15th.
#10 – #15. Creighton
Coach: Greg McDermott | 2020-21 record: 22-9
- Notable players expected to leave: Damien Jefferson, Marcus Zegarowski, Mitch Ballock, Denzel Mahoney, Antwaan Jones, Christian Bishop
- Notable players expected to return: Ryan Kalkbrenner, Shereef Mitchell, Alex O’Connell, Rati Andronikashvili, Modestas Kancleris
- Expected additions: Arthur Kaluma, Mason Miller, Ryan Nembhard, Trey Alexander, John Christofilis, and transfers Ryan Hawkins, KeyShawn Feazell
Creighton is being snubbed by the vast majority of writers/pollsters. The Jays should be ranked in the preseason polls. Many currently ranked schools found themselves in the same boat, with players graduating, transferring, entering the NBA Draft. Many currently ranked teams are in rebuild mode. Yep, the Jays lost 3 players to graduation, 1 early draftee, & 2 transfers. For many teams, such a predicament would be fatal. However, we’re talking about the Creighton Bluejays here, so this transition is manageable. For 2021/22 it’s business as usual on the Hilltop.
So, of course the writers and pundits will use differing criteria when judging “lil Creighton”, in order to continue to belittle and/or outright ignoring the Jays accomplishments. I would merely suggest that the national pundits put away their Big East bias and use the same criteria, the same template, the same standards – used when evaluating rebuilding schools such as Florida State, Texas, Kentucky, Auburn, Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan State, Alabama, or other so-called “name” school – when evaluating Creighton. Leave your biases outside the office. ESPN will be ESPN, but I expect more from NCAA.com, NBC, CBS, SI, The Athletic, Busting Brackets, SportingNews, and the rest of you (Adam Z, Jeff G, Jeff B, Jon R, Matt N, Seth D, Andy K, Gary P, and other writers).
The keys to Creighton’s reload is the returning of pivot Ryan Kalkbrenner, wing OConnell (Sr), and PG Mitchell (Jr), all with a year or more of playing experience under their belts. Fwd Modestas and PG Rati are familiar with the system, though they missed the season with injuries. They all know the system and should show marked improvement this coming season. Add in Senior (transfers) PFs Hawkins (22 ppg/9 rbd) and Feazell (13 ppg/9 rbd), whose experience will bolster what would have been an extremely young frontcourt and the Jays will be steady.
Creighton’s #5 2021 recruiting class 247.com (#6 Rivals, #? ESPN) brings in tons of scoring firepower, rebounding, defense, and energy. Any/all of the incoming recruits are capable of starting. Grading during Summer/Fall workouts and Fall practice sessions will further determine how this all shakes out and who does what. Competition will be keen for PG and SG positions and is a good thing. At PG the 3 candidates (Shereef-Rati-Ryan) will have at it to see who starts, as will AOC-Trey-John at the 2 spot. Modestas Kancleris, Ryan Hawkins, Mason Miller, & Arthur Kaluma will man/rotate the forward spots. The team is deep at most positions, with the exception of the pivot, where KeyShawn Feazell will log time to offset Kalkbrenner.
The Bluejays situation has improved since 26 May. Creighton signed 2 more top recruits (Arthur Kaluma, 45/247, 46/Rivals, 45/ESPN and Trey Alexander 73/247, 81/Rivals, 55/ESPN) and another transfer big in PF KeyShawn Feazell (Miss St/McNeese St – 13 ppg/9 rbg). PFs Feazell, and Hawkins, provide depth and experience upfront to help Kalkbrenner. Alexander, Christofilis, Miller, and Kaluma bring additional scoring and rebounding, while Nembhard gets the keys. The Bluejays’ bus is filling up, fellas.
The Jays 2021 Class is 5th on 247 and 6th on Rivals. Creighton is the only Top 10 class (247) not ranked by the pundits. Tenn, Duke, UK, Fl. St., Bama, Mich St. KU – are all rebuilding via transfers and recruiting. What’s up with that? Creighton deserves a Top 10-15 ranking, especially if fellow rebuilders such as Duke, UK, Fl St, Mich St, Bama, and Tennessee are ranked. Fair is fair and Top 10 is Top 10. The Jays are worthy of Top 10-15 rankings.
Exciting times ahead and I look forward to another great season for Creighton. 3 seniors, 1 junior, and a ton of youth. Sure, there will be a rough patch or two. Sure, the learning curve may be steep for some of the frosh. But overall, with many of the newbies having had experience playing at pace in high-level programs, the overall smarts & high IQ’s, and the overall talent at hand, I expect the Jays to excel and execute another sterling campaign. I expect this group to surprise most and win the 2021-22 Big East season and make another great NCAA run this coming Spring 2022.