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Big 4 men's basketball players to watch

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Jayvon Graves, Buffalo

A 6-3 junior guard, Graves was named to the All-MAC East Division preseason team after averaging 9.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season. Graves started 35 of 36 games. He scored 13 points against Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and scored a career-high 26 points against Ohio in February.

Malik Johnson, Canisius

A 5-10 senior guard, Johnson was named to the All-MAAC preseason second team. Last year, he averaged 9.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. The senior from Richmond, Va., starts the 2019-20 season as the MAAC’s active leader in consecutive games played (99) and consecutive games started (99). He was named third-team All-MAAC last season.

Davonta Jordan, Buffalo

Jordan, a 6-2 senior guard, averaged 7.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last season for the Bulls. He started 35 of 36 games and scored 13 points against Texas Tech in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He is expected to provide leadership to UB this season.

Kyle Lofton, St. Bonaventure

A 6-3 sophomore guard, Lofton burst on the scene last season to be named to the Atlantic-10 All-Rookie team. He averaged 14.4 points, 3.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game, and shot .838 from the free-throw line. He also was named to the A-10 All-Tournament team after leading the Bonnies to the title game. Lofton was picked to the A-10 preseason second team this season.

Osun Osunniyi, St. Bonaventure

Osunniyi is a 6-10 sophomore forward/center who is a force inside the paint. Osunniyi led all NCAA freshmen in blocks (92) last season, and averaged 2.6 blocks, 7.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. He was named to the A-10 All-Rookie and All-Defensive teams and was chosen for the 2019-20 All-Defensive preseason team.

James Towns, Niagara

Towns, a 5-10 senior guard, averaged 10.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game last season for the Purple Eagles. He shot 81.4 percent from the free-throw line, which ranked third in the MAAC. He has the most returning experience among Niagara players, having started 28 games.

Others to watch: F Scott Hitchon, Canisius, Jr.; G Ronaldo Segu, Buffalo, So.; G Raheem Solomon, Niagara, So.; G Dominick Welch, St. Bonaventure, So.; Jelanni White, Canisius, Jr.; Jeenathan Williams, Buffalo, So.

NEWCOMERS TO WATCH

Majesty Brandon, Canisius

A 6-0 junior guard, Brandon played the last two seasons at Monroe Community College, where he was named NJCAA first-team All-America after averaging 21.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in 2018-19. He also was an All-Region III first-team selection and the 2018-19 NJCAA Regional Player of the Year. He scored more than 1,000 career points in his two seasons with the Tribunes.

Corey Brown, Canisius

Brown, a 6-8 senior forward, is the third grad transfer in Canisius history. He played in 82 games with 23 starts for Northern Arizona from 2015-18, averaging 4.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. He did not play last season. Brown scored a career-high 22 points against Eastern Washington in March 2018 and grabbed a career-best 12 rebounds against Sacramento State in February 2018.

Shandon Brown, Niagara

A 5-9 sophomore guard, Brown spent the 2018-19 season at George Washington, averaging 7.7 minutes over 29 games. He recorded a season-high five points and three assists in his first career game on Nov. 6 against Stony Brook. He played a career-high 21 minutes against Michigan on Nov. 17.

Gabe Grant, Buffalo

The 6-6 senior forward is a transfer from Houston, where he played 24 games in 2017-18 before transfering to UB. He averaged just 2.2 points and 1.1 rebounds per game his junior season. Grant starred for two years at Three Rivers Community College, posting 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game his sophomore season. He scored in double figures 28 times.

Antwain Johnson, Buffalo

A 6-2 senior guard, Johnson sat out last season after transfering from Middle Tennessee State, where he averaged averaged 10.3 points per game while shooting 44.2 percent from the field and 39 percent from the 3-point line as a junior. He also contributed with 56 assists. Johnson has NCAA Tournament experience, scoring 19 points with six assists in a second-round game against Butler in 2016-17.

Bobby Planutis, St. Bonaventure

A 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, Planutis played in 32 games, starting 25, as a freshman for Mount St. Mary’s in 2017-18. He averaged 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game and knocked down 49 percent of his 3-point attempts (33-for-67). He made 47 percent from the field overall and 90 percent (36 of 40) at the free-throw line. He did not play last season.

Others to watch: Robert Carpenter, St. Bonaventure, Fr..; Jaren English, St. Bonaventure, So.; LaQuill Hardnett, Buffalo, r-Fr; Matt Johnson, St. Bonaventure, Jr.; Josh Mballa, Buffalo, So.; David Nickelberry, Buffalo, Jr.; Justin Roberts, Niagara, Jr.

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