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American Athletic Conference Mens Basketball Preseason Power Rankings: No.6 Temple

Can Will Cummings keep the Owls in the upper half of the AAC?

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Head Coach: Fran Dunphy
2013-2014 Record: 9-22, 4-14 in AAC
Key Losses: Dalton Pepper (17.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG), Anthony Lee (13.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG)
When they play UConn:
December 31st (at UConn)
March 7th (at Temple)

Key Players:
Will Cummings
Quenton DeCosey
Jaylen Bond
Devin Coleman
Jesse Morgan (not ruled eligible yet)

Temple is looking to bounce back from their first losing season since Fran Dunphy's first year with the team in 2006-07.  While the Owls were one of the worst teams in the American last season, they have a strong returning cast complemented by some athletic transfers who will be able to keep them in the top half of the conference.  This is a new look team with a lot more depth and experience to go along with a coach who made it to the NCAA Tournament six times in a row before last season.  Do not be surprised if the Owls get some signature wins this year.

Will Cummings comes into the season as the team's unquestioned leader- the only senior who has been on the team for four years.  The 6-foot-2 guard was named to ESPN's Preseason All-AAC team after averaging 16.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 4.6 APG last year.  He ended the season on a sixteen game double-digit scoring streak.

Joining Cummings will be junior Quenton DeCosey who contributed 15.4 PPG last season.  The 6-foot-5 guard has the ability to be a real scoring threat as he was able to score in double figures in all but four games while playing alongside Cummings and departing graduate Dalton Pepper.  With Pepper gone and Cummings most likely being guarded by teams' best defenders, DeCosey could find himself in a position where he will have to score a lot in order to get wins for Temple.

While losing Anthony Lee to Ohio State via transfer was devastating to Dunphy and the Owls, they bring in three transfers themselves, all coming from good programs.  Jaylen Bond comes in from Texas as a 6-foot-8, 240 pound forward who will look to fill a defensive void in the interior.  6-foot-2 guard Devin Coleman, a transfer from Clemson, gives Dunphy more guard depth- which we all know is never a bad thing.  Lastly and maybe most importantly, Temple might have 6-foot-5 guard Jesse Morgan coming in from UMass who might be eligible to play.  Morgan averaged 13.4 PPG for the Minutemen in 2012-13 but may have to sit out because of NCAA rules.

Temple also added 6-foot-8 freshman forward Obi Enechionyia, a 4-star recruit according to ESPN.  Enechionyia chose Temple over Indiana, Maryland, UMass and Notre Dame.  He will be the only freshman on the roster but Dunphy is high on this long, athletic and versatile forward.  Enechionyia will provide much needed depth in the front court.

This season, winning games will come down to whether or not they can improve defensively. The owls allowed 78.1 PPG last season, ranking them close to the bottom in the nation.  Temple will be challenged early in the season as they've scheduled non-conference games against Duke, Kansas, Villanova, St. Joseph's and LaSalle.

While Temple has the talent to play in the NCAA Tournament and compete with a majority of teams, the combination of tough games in non-conference and lack of respect when it comes to the AAC will prevent the Owls from making the big dance.  Unless they fire off quality win after quality win in their non-conference portion of their schedule and then really shake up the AAC, Temple will probably be an NIT team this season.