Myles Powell is back to take care of unfinished business with the Seton Hall Pirates and a deep run into March remains the ultimate goal.
As the great Bill Raftery would say, “He can ring the bell, can’t he?” Myles Powell is everything Seton Hall Pirates fans could want in a player. He’s a walking bucket who can score at all three levels and he’s the reason why the Pirates are coming into the 2019-20 season with the highest of expectations.
Powell was named preseason Big East Player of the Year and an AP Preseason All-American, the first in program history. Additionally, the Pirates are coming into the season ranked 12th in the country
Powell is a college hoops throwback in this era of one-and-dones. The Trenton, NJ native flirted with entering the NBA draft this past summer but ultimately decided to return for his senior season.
Powell puts the “shooting” in shooting guard. As a junior, he averaged 23.1 points per game on impressive shooting splits (44.7/36.4/84.0). Head coach Kevin Willard will have to be prepared for opposing teams to load up against Powell and take Seton Hall’s best offensive weapon away.
This is nothing new for the Pirates. Creative zone concepts, box-and-1s, and no-help defensive schemes against Powell are going to be the norm. Furthermore, Powell’s ability to pass out of the double team needs to be a point of emphasis for the potential Naismith Player of the Year. He finished his junior season with more turnovers than assists. That’s a rough look for any guard who has the ball in his hands so often.
Plenty of Depth
Teams don’t make four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances without depth. Willard’s ability to recruit is paying off and although Powell is the engine of this team, he’ll have plenty of support from his teammates this season.
The only notable player the Pirates are losing is Michael Nzei, a senior who averaged 9.0 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Other than that, all of Powell’s buddies are back in the fold. Rangy wing Myles Cale is returning after averaging 10.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore.
In terms of the frontcourt, the Pirates boast an imposing lineup of bigs. Junior Sandro Mamukelashvili is a 6-foot-10 bruiser who can bang inside and projects as a legitimate double-double threat.
Willard is suspended for the team’s season opener after a university-implemented suspension after the NCAA launched an investigation into transfer tampering with Thompson. That being said, the Pirates should have no problem blowing by Wagner with assistant coach Grant Billmeier at the helm.
When the lights are brightest, expect Powell to be the superstar we all know he is. But that can be tough to sustain for an entire season.
With a non-conference schedule including games against No. 1 ranked Michigan State, No. 15 ranked Oregon, and No. 7 ranked Maryland, the Pirates will have plenty of opportunities to prove their worth early. Not to mention, the Big East will be much improved after a down 2018-19 season for the conference.
However, their difficult schedule will prepare them for what matters most: March. Despite their four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, they only have one win to show for it. While they have a much higher ceiling than a Sweet 16, anything short of that would feel like a major disappointment.
The program’s last Sweet 16 appearance came in 2000. The Pirates might not have another player like Powell for a long time. There should be a sense of urgency in South Orange, NJ like never before.
Powell and the Pirates have unfinished business.