Opinion: Why Boston University Men’s Basketball could be a 2020 Cinderella Story

By: Greg Levinsky

No one ever properly picks the underdogs. In 2018, the world watched Loyola Chicago Men’s Basketball team rip off four NCAA Tournament wins, becoming just the fourth 11 seed in the Tournament’s history to reach the Final Four.

Why not Boston University? Well, it’s really not as far-fetched as you’d think.

This past season, four of five regular starters were underclassmen. Sophomore Max Mahoney and Tyler Scanlon started alongside freshmen Walter Whyte and Javante McCoy. In 2020, Mahoney, who was named to the All-Patriot League Third-Team honors this season and Scanlon will be seniors. Whyte, who was tabbed All-Rookie team and McCoy will be juniors.

By late February of 2020, this quartet will have shared the court for nearly three full seasons.

Two-time defending Patriot League Champion Bucknell’s senior trio of Zach Thomas, Nana Foulland and Stephen Brown brought them to two straight Tournament appearances, both resulting in first round losses. Those three players make up one of the best trios in the country period, but why do I think this Boston University squad could not only make it to the tournament, but succeed in it? That answer is depth on the inside and length on the outside. This team will physically matchup with anybody. They may even be more physically imposing than some teams.

Mahoney, 6-foot-8; Scanlon, 6-foot-7; Whyte 6-foot-5 and McCoy 6-foot-5 will be joined by a tremendous recruiting class this fall.

Looking forward to 2020, Mahoney would be a true post threat and Scanlon will be a four-year starter. 6-foot-10 center Sukhmail Mathon will be a junior, while 6-foot-9 Jack Hemphill and 6-foot-8 Jordan Guest will be sophomores.

Hemphill’s big. He’s listed at 225 pounds, but looks to be built broadly like Mahoney. He has extended 3-point range and I could envision him starting early in his career. Guest is another solid outside shooter. He and Hemphill will likely sub in for one another, or play alongside each other a lot off the bench as freshmen.

With at least four rotational players 6-foot-8 or taller, the Terriers can rely on depth down the road and throw a bevy of different lineups out there.

Whyte and McCoy are both tall off guards. Pencil in 6-foot-6 slasher Destin Barnes as healthy and playing a full season next year and in the midst of another full campaign in 2019-20, BU has an incredible amount of off-ball talent. Scanlon and Whyte are both tremendous rebounders. The duo combined for 12.7 RPG in conference play, Scanlon, the top sophomore rebounder, at 6.8 per game and White second among freshman at 5.9.

Sharp-shooting guard Andrew Petcash is a sound offensive player and appears extremely confident on the floor. Fletcher Tynen, a 6-foot-5 forward will be a sophomore and is known for incredible defense, matching up with the likes of 5-star Oregon commit Bol Bol during his career at Bishop Montgomery High School.

Six-foot-three point guard Garrett Pascoe, has adept passing and will be a sophomore, as will 6-foot-2 guard and Texas Tech transfer Alex Vilarino.

Vilarino, like Barnes, could be a crucial tenet to the 2020 roster. After spending a year at South Kent Prep in Conn., Vilarino will be in his third year out of high school as an eligibility-wise freshman. He’s had a lot of time to develop and benefitted by coming during the semester break this year. He practiced all spring semester with the team. His athleticism is a major plus and so is his defense.

Our own Matt Doherty broke down next year’s depth chart, and I can see the lineups looking quite interesting a couple of years from now. Do not forget, we are not including any 2023 players as none have signed their NLI yet. There is currently one open scholarship for this year or next year as the only senior on the roster, Kamali Chambers, is a walk-on.

The rotation could look like this in 2020.

PG: Alex Vilarino

SG: Walter Whyte

SF: Tyler Scanlon

PF: Max Mahoney

C: Jack Hemphill

6th Men: Javante McCoy, Destin Barnes

Rotation: Jordan Guest, Sukhmail Mathon, Andrew Petchash, Fletcher Tynen, Garrett Pascoe.

In this scenario, McCoy and Barnes come off the bench and are an extremely dangerous wing tandem, one much different than Whyte and Scanlon. McCoy and Barnes are both incredible athletes. Coming off the bench could provide a great spark.

This team will have an abundance of interchangeable parts. Somewhere between seven to 10 of these players should see significant starts in their careers by March of 2020.

There is no reason not to at least consider the possibility of NCAA Tournament success for this program soon.

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