Can Raheem Appleby get back to his high scoring self after missing most of the conference season in 2013-2014?
If the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are going to finally break into the NCAA tournament, they could use the steady scoring of their senior shooting guard.
Raheem Appleby came in to Louisiana Tech as a freshman without a lot of press outside his home state of Arkansas. The Jacksonville (outside of North Little Rock) native had offers from UALR and Arkansas State and played well in an All Star game his senior year.
People in Little Rock certainly knew about him, but Louisiana Tech fans weren't sure what to expect when they saw the skinny 160-pound kid show up on campus.
Appleby quickly won over the fans with his knack for getting the ball in the basket. He had a quirky jump shot, but he had a way of twisting and contorting his body in the lane in order to get the ball over or around the defender.
Whatever he needed to do, the 6'4" guard found a way to score.
After averaging 14.9 points per game as a sophomore, (a year that saw the Bulldogs win 27 games) the Bulldogs saw their expectations go through the roof. Appleby averaged 16.6 points per game during the non-conference portion of the schedule, then he went down with an injury.
Appleby missed the next 12 games, then he finished the season playing sparingly in nine games. The Bulldogs won 29 games last year and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT.
With a healthy Appleby back along with Speedy Smith, Alex Hamilton, and Michale Kyser; Louisiana Tech Head Coach Mike White has a team that is ready to make some noise in March. The Bulldogs are loaded with new athletes, including 6-8 forward Erik McCree, who transferred in from Murray State.
The Bulldogs have added some scoring punch to the lineup as well.
Not only did Smith and Hamilton pick up their offensive production while Appleby was out; true freshman Xavian Stapleton (6-6 guard) will bring added scoring off the bench. Appleby saw his efficiency increase last season despite the missed time. He shot a career high .470 from the field last year, including .400 (40-100) from three point land.
Appleby should be able to pick his spots with the added depth on the team, but when needed; Appleby will gladly take the ball in his hands and put it in the hoop.
Check out Jason's C-USA Preview On SB Nation's Mid Major Madness.