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Rant Sports NCAAB Season Preview: Five Storylines-Paradise Jam

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Rant Sports NCAAB Season Preview: Five Storylines-Paradise Jam

Shabazz Napier
Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

Early season tournaments continue to emerge and increase from a competition standpoint. Non-conference schedules have become tougher and college basketball fans are preparing for premier match-ups and upsets even in November.

Tournament Date(s): November 16-19, 2012.

Tournament Location(s): University of the Virgin Islands, U. S. Virgin Islands.

Tournament Field: Mercer, Connecticut, Quinnipiac, George Mason, Illinois-Chicago, Iona, New Mexico, and Wake Forest.

Let’s take a look at five story lines to watch for at the 2012 Paradise Jam.

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George Mason Looks to Others

Erik Copes
Rafael Suanes-US PRESSWIRE

Ryan Pearson is gone, so second-year head coach Paul Hewitt will need others to step up in 2012-13. On the perimeter, expectations are soaring for junior guard Sherrod Wright. The New York-native has the potential to emerge as a star in the CAA this season, while sophomore forward Erik Copes looks to emerge as a consistent low post threat. Copes' 15.0 minutes per game a season ago will certainly increase, so it can only be expected that so too will his offensive and rebounding statistics.

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Iona Belongs to MoMo Jones

MoMo Jones

Scott Machado, the nation's leading assist man from a season ago is gone and so too is double-double machine Michael Glover. The time to shine is now for senior guard Lamont "MoMo" Jones. After transferring from Arizona following his sophomore season, Jones was granted a hardship waiver and was eligible to play immediately for head coach Tim Cluess. In what will serve as his second and final season at Iona, Jones will look to build off his 15.7 scoring average from 2011-12 and guide the Gaels back to the Big Dance.

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Don't Sleep on New Mexico

Kendall Williams

Drew Gordon is gone, but head coach Steve Alford still has plenty of weapons in 2012-13. Kendall Williams has the potential to emerge as one of the Mountain West's top play makers, while fellow back court mates Hugh Greenwood and Demetrius Walker give the Lobos one of the top perimeter rotations out west. Freshman Nick Banyard will be one to keep tabs on throughout the season, but Paradise Jam could present some opportunities for the Lobos to build up their non-conference resume.

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Pressure Mounting for Wake Forest's Jeff Bzdelik

Jeff Bzdelik
Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE

Entering his third year in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik needs to see production on the court. In his first two seasons, Wake Forest has managed just 21 combined victories and has compiled a 5-27 record within the ACC in that time. There's a nice crop of freshmen entering the program this season and the return of C.J. Harris and Travis McKie does certainly give the Demon Deacons some potential in 2012-13. Can they take advantage of the field in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

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Kevin Ollie Leads New Era at UConn

Kevin Ollie

Following the news of Jim Calhoun's retirement, the University of Connecticut tabbed Kevin Ollie as replacement. Ollie, a former four-year player for the Huskies, takes over a one-year contract with uncertain expectations and a postseason ban that is starring him down. Due to low APR scores, UConn is banned from any postseason activity this season and the losses of Jeremy Lamb, Andre Drummond, Roscoe Smith, and Alex Oriakhi won't help either. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright return to give Ollie a two-headed monster in the back court, but how will the Huskies fare in their first season without Calhoun?