There has been a fair amount of roster turnover this offseason for Boston College, so it will be interesting to see how Earl Grant manages this group. With the enormous hole left behind by Langford brothers, the team will require several new contributors in the backcourt this season, and, with the roster at Grant’s disposal, this backcourt has the potential to be much stronger than in years past.
The starting five remains largely intact, with Jaedan Zackery, Prince Aligbe, Devin McGlockton, and Quinten Post all returning from last season, and bench pieces Mason Madsen and Chas Kelley also returning to the Eagles this year.
Junior transfer Claudell “MJ” Harris Jr. and sophomore Kelley are sure to assume an increased role in his sophomore season. Grant brought Harris to Chestnut Hill to do one thing: put the ball through the hoop. As a sophomore last season, Harris was the leading scorer on a middling Charleston Southern team, averaging 17.4 points on 46% shooting from the field and 33% from 3. While Harris will face significantly higher competition in the ACC, he should hope to get better looks at the basket and increased efficiency, as he will no longer be the first option on offense.
As for Kelley, while his playing time was not consistent (ranging anywhere from two to 31 minutes), he certainly began to show flashes of scoring and elite playmaking in the second half of the season, highlighted by a 17-point/four-assist performance against Virginia Tech. I wouldn't expect him to start but I do expect to see his playing time increase from last season’s 14.7 minutes per game.
Madsen was a vital bench player last year and had some big moments shooting the ball (you might remember his go-ahead 3 against Cornell). But he did not shoot the ball as efficiently as Eagles fans might have hoped, scoring 5.8 points on just 34% from the field and 30% from 3 in his 21 minutes. If he can return to his 36% 3-point percentage from two seasons ago at Cincinnati, then he will certainly find a spot in Grant’s regular rotation. In contrast to Madsen, who played in all 33 games last season, Hand and Fred Payne are a couple of question marks. Hand only saw the floor for 14 minutes before his season-ending ACL injury, and Payne has never seen college action.
I'd also like to see Grant give Hand some minutes on the wing. While this iteration of the Eagles has plenty of options at guard, with DeMarr Langford's departure to UCF, it does lack athleticism on the perimeter. So having Hand come off the bench at the wing would be extremely helpful. Now coming in at 6-foot-5, 210 (Kelley’s words, not mine), a healthy Hand would ideally be able to replace some of Langford’s minutes as a long, athletic wing.
Between Harris, Kelley, and Madsen, Harris is the most proven scorer, so I’m giving him the edge at starting shooting guard. And, for what little it’s worth, Grant appeared to insert him in the starting lineup during the Eagles’ European Tour over Kelley, while Madsen did not play. Kelley, Madsen, and Hand should see 15-20 minutes per game off the bench to start the season.
As I mentioned earlier, the guard depth that Grant has at his disposal this season is quite remarkable compared to that of seasons past. This backcourt appears to be quite deep, and Grant will have some tough decisions to make regarding minutes.