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Temple basketball preview: Loaded freshman class will star for Owls

The Owls start the new college basketball season in Charleston.

One of the biggest gripes about Fran Dunphy’s otherwise brilliant coaching career at Temple University has been his ability to recruit talent.

Although he’s amassed a 230-136 (62.8 percent) winning percentage in his 11 year coaching career with the Owls, many have questioned his ability to draw the type of talent that could make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament out to North Broad.

His 2017-18 recruiting class may finally silence his critics.

Forwards De’Vondre Perry, J.P. Moorman II and Justyn Hamilton along with guard Nate Pierre-Louis make up the Owls’ talented freshman class. They’ll be joining an already deep Temple team that is driven to make some noise this season, which gets underway Thursday against Old Dominion (2-0) in the Charleston Classic.

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“All four of them have come in and been ready to go right from the start and it has been exciting,” Dunphy said of the freshmen. “The competitiveness at practice has risen exponentially and it has been great.”

The Owls, who finished 17-17, 7-11 last season, are returning four of their top five leading scorers from a year ago in Shizz Alston Jr. (13.9 PPG), Obi Enechionyia (13.1 PPG), Quinton Rose (9.7 PPG) and Alani Moore II (6.5 PPG).

Josh Brown, who averaged 8.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists in the Owls’ 2015-16 campaign, was sidelined as a medical redshirt for the majority of last season while recovering from an Achilles injury. The team hopes to have him at full strength this season at point guard and that he can take control of the Owls’ offense like he has done in the past.

“I feel good and it was just good to be out there again, fans out there cheering on us,” Brown said after Temple’s 70-60 exhibition win against Jefferson. “There was a lot of electricity, I was a little anxious and it was just a good dress rehearsal for us.”

The Owls will have a tough task in their opener, facing an Old Dominion defense that has limited their opponents to just 53.5 points per game, which ranks 19th in the country.

“They’re an outstanding defensive team who probably want to keep the possessions low during the course of the game,” Dunphy said. “We’ll have our hands full. They’re a veteran team that know what they’re doing.”

Temple’s game against the Monarchs will air at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN3.

 
 
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