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Newcomers Making An Impact In The CAA

Dec 10, 2012, 10:21 PM EST

JMU freshman guard Andre Nation

Newcomers are making a big impact around the CAA this season with every team in the league getting contributions from a player who wasn’t on their roster a year ago. There are 10 new players among the CAA’s top 30 in scoring, and that number goes up if you include JMU’s Rayshawn Goins and W&M’s Kyle Gaillard, who sat out the 2011-12 campaign due to injury.

Let’s take a look at some of the newcomers who are making a difference for each team through the first six weeks of the season:

Delaware – Freshman guard Terrell Rogers has made four starts for the Blue Hens and is averaging 5.5 ppg while ranking second on the team with 16 assists. Saint Joseph’s transfer Carl Baptiste has provided depth up front, contributing 4.1 ppg and 4.1 rpg.

Drexel – Redshirt freshman guard Tavon Allen’s role has become even more important for the Dragons due to Chris Fouch’s season-ending injury. Allen ranks fourth on the team in scoring with 9.9 ppg and he’s shooting a sizzling 55.6% (10-18) from 3-point range, helping fill the perimeter shooting void left by the loss of Fouch.

George Mason – Three new players are seeing regular playing time for the Patriots. Seton Hall transfer Anali Okoloji (4.3 ppg/3.5 rpg) has started all 10 games and grabbed 7 rebounds in both games last week. Freshman forward Marko Gujanicic (5.6 ppg) scored a career-best 14 points in a win over UMBC last week, while freshman guard Patrick Holloway (5.5 ppg), who  is second on the team with 12 three-pointers, poured in 17 points against Maryland.

Georgia State – Freshman guard R.J. Hunter, the son of Panthers’ head coach Ron Hunter, leads all CAA freshmen in scoring (15.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.0 rpg) and he ranks third in the conference with 20 steals. Hunter began his career with a double-double (14 pts/10 reb) at Duke and has topped the 20-point mark three times. Virginia Tech transfer Manny Atkins has been just as impressive, contributing 13.2 points and a team-best 6.2 rebounds per contest. After a slow start, Atkins has scored double digits in five straight games. Also helping out are Cameron Solomon (6.3 ppg), Markus Crider and Denny Burguillos.

Hofstra – Penn State transfer guard Taran Buie leads the Pride and ranks sixth in the CAA in scoring with 15. 9 ppg. He has tallied double digits in six of his seven contests, including a career-high 29 points in a close loss at LIU Brooklyn last Saturday. Buie has made 14 three-pointers and is shooting nearly 39% from beyond the arc.

James Madison – The Dukes have the most fifth-year seniors of any team in the nation, but a talented freshman class is making a mark. Guard Andre Nation is second on the team in scoring (11.0 ppg) and assists (17), he leads the CAA and is 27th nationally in steals (2.6 spg) and is also third in the conference with 14 blocked shots. Guard Ron Curry is scoring 7.1 ppg after a 12-point outing last Saturday versus Richmond and Charles Cooke adds 4.7 ppg.

UNCW – The Seahawks are playing several newcomers on a regular basis. Redshirt freshman guard Craig Ponder leads the group with 6.9 ppg, which was highlighted by a 26-point effort at Marshall. Guard Chris Dixon (5.5 ppg) poured in 20 points at Georgia Tech last Saturday. Redshirt freshman Luke Hager (2.6 ppg/2.4 rpg) has played in all nine contests and has started twice.

Northeastern – Freshman Zach Stahl has made seven starts and is averaging a solid 6.6 ppg. He scored a season-high 13 points as NU knocked off unbeaten Belmont and also had 12 points against La Salle last Saturday. Freshman David Walker is averaging 4.7 ppg, leads the team with 11 steals and is tied for second in assists with 15. He scored 13 points against undefeated Charlotte.

Old Dominion – N.C. State transfer DeShawn Painter leads the Monarchs in scoring (10.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg). He has posted a pair of double-doubles, including a 26-point, 10-rebound performance against VCU last Friday. Freshman guard Keenan Palmore has filled the stat sheet, averaging 8.7 ppg and 5.6 rpg while dishing out a team-high 26 assists. Freshmen Aaron Bacote (6.1 ppg) and Deion Clarke (4.8 ppg) have each made three starts for ODU.

Towson – No team has more new players making an impact than the Tigers. Georgetown transfer Jerrelle Benimon has four double-doubles and is among the CAA leaders in scoring (15.7 ppg) and rebounding (10.6 rpg). USF transfer Mike Burwell (9.2 ppg) has hit a team-high 14 treys. Freshman point guard Jerome Hairston is scoring 9.8 ppg and leading the team in assists (23) and steals (19). Providence transfer Bilal Dixon (7.1 ppg/6.8 rpg), Rafriel Guthrie (5.2 ppg) and freshman Timajh Parker-Rivera (3.0 ppg/3.7 rpg) have all contributed.

William & Mary – Freshman forward Terry Tarpey has seen action in all nine contests and is averaging 4.4 ppg while ranking third on the team in rebounding (5.2 rpg). He scored 14 points in a road win at Liberty and grabbed 12 rebounds in a victory over Howard last week.

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