Wofford grabbed the nation’s attention in 2018-19 as it won 21 consecutive games, beat Seton Hall in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and played Kentucky tough with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line.
The Terriers were ultimately undone by a poor shooting performance by star Fletcher Magee as he went 0-for-12 from 3-point range in a six-point loss to Kentucky. While Wofford’s run in this year’s NCAA Tournament is done after two games, don’t be surprised if the Terriers are in position to make some noise again next year.
Yes, Wofford loses Magee, All-Southern Conference performer Cam Jackson and backup big man Matt Pegram, but the Terriers also return several important pieces that give them a chance to be a part of March Madness again in 2020.
“We’ll be really good,” Terriers coach Mike Young said. “We’ll dust ourselves off and start putting it together again.”
All you have to do is look at the way Wofford’s three returning starters performed against Kentucky to see why the Terriers are optimistic for next season.
Point guard Storm Murphy had six points, six assists and most importantly no turnovers in 36 minutes against the Wildcats, drilling a 3-pointer late to pull the Terriers to within four with 2:43 left.
Shooting guard Nathan Hoover led all scorers in the game with 19 points, making 4 of 5 3-pointers to keep Wofford in the game. Hoover dropped 30 points on South Carolina in a 20-point victory earlier in the year.
On the inside, forward Keve Aluma battled Kentucky’s big men all night long, finishing with seven points and tying for a game-high 11 rebounds. Seven of his rebounds were offensive boards.
“We’re losing a lot of production, there’s no question about that. A lot of experience. But with the depth that we had this year, especially with the three starters being underclassmen... The future is really bright,” associated head coach Jay McAuley said. “Some of those young guys off the bench learned a lot this year and obviously this last week.”
Some of the bench players that will be counted on to play a bigger role next year include forward Chevez Goodwin (Hammond) and guards Ryan Larson, Tray Hollowell and Donovan Them-Love. All four of those players were regular rotation guys who flashed in 2018-19. They should be able to help fill the holes left by Magee, Jackson and Pegram.
“I think we showed a little bit tonight that we are deep and we do have a great team all around,” Murphy said of Wofford hanging tough against Kentucky, despite Magee’s struggles. “We have young guys who know how to step up as well. I think we’re really talented and everyone plays very hard. I’m expecting it to be amazing and awesome. I think we’ll have a great team (next year).”