"I'm just looking for him to make a big jump so that by the end of the season, Eric Atkins will be referred to as one of the better guards in the Big East," Brey said. "I feel strongly about his career here. It makes me sleep well at night, knowing he's the guy running the team for three more years."
12. Devin Brown, Holy Cross
When Brown wasn't working on his game this summer, the City grad was interning at GE and plotting his post-graduate plans for entering the business world. That summer balancing act of books and basketball was typical for Brown. Over the past three years at Holy Cross, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior has emerged as a seemingly model student-athlete at the academically rigorous institution.
"One of the [business] professors pulled me aside and said, 'He's absolutely going to be a star,'" said Holy Cross coach Milan Brown. "[This is] what kids who go to Holy Cross do. They're going to play and be about academically trying to set themselves up for the future and where they're going to work. He goes just as hard going for 30 points as he does in [in the classroom]. He's done both. He's talked a lot about being good in both avenues."
Devin Brown's academic success mirrors his basketball prowess. As a junior, Brown averaged a team-best 15.6 points, reaching double figures 21 times. Brown converted on 81.1 percent of his free throws and 36.6 percent of his 3-point attempts. The former Knights standout, who was a second-team All-Patriot League player last season, would trade all his individual accolades for a winning senior season with the Crusaders (8-21).
"I wish I would've been able to do more to help the team — taking [better] shots, grabbing more rebounds, finding the open man, getting a few more steals, motivating my teammates better when I'm on the bench, pushing the team more in practice," Brown said. "A lot of things I could have done."
Commemorative basketballs line the walls of Todd Bozeman's office, with each one signifying an important moment in his Morgan State tenure.
There are basketballs to remember MEAC championships, NCAA tournament appearances, wins over high-major opponents like Maryland and Arkansas, and several other notable accomplishments. For each of those highlights, Kevin Thompson was there.
"He's been part of every last one of them," Bozeman said of Thompson, who averaged 13.1 points, 9.1 rebounds for the Bears as a junior.
If Bozeman has his way, Thompson will be part of a few more tribute-worthy moments this season. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound center has played in two NCAA tournaments, but the Bears missed out on the postseason last year. Bozeman hopes Thompson, a Walbrook grad, is saving his best effort with the Bears for last.
"[I want him to] lead, really work and develop a worker's type of attitude," Bozeman said. "If he does that, he really could lead the nation in rebounding. And he could be a force to be reckoned with … and end his career like how he started, which would be in the postseason."
10. Sean Mosley, Maryland
Mosley is the first person to admit that his junior season was a disappointment. The Terps missed the postseason, and the second-leading scorer in Maryland high school history averaged just 8.1 points and shot 26.9 percent from 3-point range. First-year Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, however, is a firm believer in Mosley's ability, and is counting on the former St. Frances star to be a leader and a major producer for the Terps this season.
"He's a much better shooter than I thought looking at his numbers," Turgeon said. "His form is good shooting the ball. Hopefully it'll carry over in games. He's a much better shooter. He's tough kid, a strong kid who guards multiple positions because of his strength. He's just a great leader for us. You can tell he's serious about doing what's best for the team and leaving his mark. He's been great."
Mosley may not have turned into the college player some analysts predicted four years ago. But the 6-foot-4, 210-pound wing has no regrets about his time in College Park, and he's eager to end his career on a high note.
"It's a blessing to be here at the University of Maryland," Mosley said. "I'm playing at the highest Division I level. The three years have been great. We've been to the [NCAA] tournament two out of the three years I've been here, got [an ACC championship] ring when I was here. This is my last year. I just want to go out being remembered and having a great season, making the tournament and playing my best. Last year wasn't the best season for me or the [team]. But I think this [coaching] change is definitely for the better. We're looking forward."
9. Antonio Barton, Memphis
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound point guard read the comments and heard the whispers about him riding older brother Will Barton's coattails to a high-major basketball scholarship.
"It was just like rumors on the internet," Antonio Barton said. "I would read it. [They said] that I would be a good practice player, or I was just a throw-in for my brother. Those type of things."