Western Kentucky Hilltoppers – Projecting WKU’s 2021-22 Basketball Lineup Rotation


The 2021-22 college basketball season doesn’t tipoff until November, but that doesn’t mean that it’s too early to take a look at Western Kentucky’s potential lineup rotation for the upcoming campaign.

Although the Hilltoppers had eight players depart from the program, including standout center Charles Bassey, who’s projected to be a late first-round or early second-round pick in the NBA Draft on July 29, coach Rick Stansbury still brings back a wealth of experience – in addition to a bulk of new talent.

While explosive guard Josh Anderson (averaged 9.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in 2020-21) is back for a fifth season, along with redshirt senior sharpshooter Luke Frampton (7.4 points and 1.8 rebounds) and flashy sophomore point guard Dayvion McKnight (5.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists), WKU will add six new faces to the mix this season – from true freshmen to veteran transfers.

Ranked as a four-star recruit coming out of Marshall County (Ky.), true freshman point guard Zion Harmon – who averaged 22.3 points per game last season as a senior – highlights the Hilltoppers’ group of newcomers. Alongside Harmon, guard Elijah Hughey joins WKU as another true freshman out of Lancaster (Ala.) after averaging 11.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals last season.

Darrius Miles – a 6-foot-10, 295-pound center from Odessa College – comes to Bowling Green as a sophomore after playing 17 games at the JUCO level and is one of two JUCO players to join the WKU program. Jamarion Sharp, a Hopkinsville, Ky. native who played at John A. Logan College and averaged 7.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.8 blocks as a sophomore, comes in as a 7-foot-5 center from the JUCO level.

Stansbury’s biggest pair of transfers during the offseason were veteran forwards Jaylen Butz and Jairus Hamilton.

Butz, a fifth-year from DePaul, played in 89 games and made 47 starts over three seasons and averaged 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game as a junior in 2019-20. Hamilton, a senior from Maryland, played in all 31 games in 2020-21 and averaged 6.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Hamilton played his first two seasons of collegiate basketball at Boston College.

So, the main question is: What could Stansbury’s lineup rotation potentially be for the 2021-22 season?

POINT GUARD

DAYVION MCKNIGHT

WHY?: McKnight played in all 29 games for WKU a season ago and made 17 starts. He’s a clear floor general and knows how to execute, while also getting others involved. McKnight recorded 111 assists compared to 61 turnovers last year and dished out nine assists in three different games as a true freshman. When he’s on the floor, the Hilltoppers are usually successful.

SHOOTING GUARD

LUKE FRAMPTON

WHY?: There were numerous times last season when WKU needed some life and Frampton would be the one that provided a spark. Frampton is a pure shooter – he made 51 3-pointers in 2020-21 – and when he gets going, he is hard to stop. He may have only made one start a year ago, but he proved that he needs to be on the floor more often than not. He’s a veteran player and has what it takes to be in the starting lineup.

SMALL FORWARD

JOSH ANDERSON

WHY?: Anderson is going to be WKU’s leader in 2021-22 – there’s no question about that. Entering his fifth season with the Hilltoppers, Anderson has been a part of much success with the program, and he’s made a name for himself in the college basketball world for his highlight-reel-like dunks and unmatched energy level. He’s never been a big scorer, but Anderson does all the right things and will be looked up to by the rest of the team.

POWER FORWARD

JAIRUS HAMILTON

WHY?: Hamilton comes to WKU with experience from playing at both Boston College and Maryland. He’s a big, but is known for his ability to shoot the ball – he shot 43% from 3-point range last season at Maryland, and 56% over the team’s last 10 games. Hamilton will undoubtedly be a scorer for the Hilltoppers, but he’ll also contribute in other ways and should be a consistent starter.

CENTER

JAYLEN BUTZ

WHY?: Butz was successful during his three seasons at DePaul, and he’ll be expected to produce at WKU. A lengthy, versatile forward, Butz can score in various ways and consistently attacks the boards. He’s not labeled as a “center”, but Butz will be more than capable of playing in the No. 5 spot.

SIXTH MAN

ZION HARMON

WHY?: Stansbury usually goes with a guard as the first off the bench, and Harmon is the perfect sixth man. He’d come in to replace McKnight or Frampton, as he can play either the point or shooting guard roles. If needed to run the offense, Harmon can do that. If needed to score, Harmon can do that. He’ll give the Hilltoppers plenty of production as the first off the bench.

NO. 7 SPOT

JAMARION SHARP

WHY?: Sharp will most likely be the second guy off the bench for WKU, coming in to give Hamilton or Butz a breather. Sharp is 7-foot-5, so he’s obviously going to be thrown to quite a bit inside. If he can produce, there’s a good chance he could move up in the rotation, but it’s safe to say that Stansbury will first have to see how the JUCO transfer adjusts to the Division I game.

NO. 8 SPOT

ELIJAH HUGHEY

WHY?: Hughey is a scoring guard, and he’s a player who will be able to come in off the bench – no matter how deep he is in the rotation – and immediately make some shots. He shot 49% from the field and 40% from 3 as a senior in high school, and there’s no reason why he won’t be able to put up those same numbers at the college level.

NOs. 9 + 10

ISAIAH COZART + DARRIUS MILES

WHY?: WKU’s rotation will most likely end with junior forward Isaiah Cozart and the JUCO transfer center Miles. Cozart doesn’t see a lot of playing time for the Hilltoppers, but he has done some good things throughout the course of his first two seasons at WKU. Alongside Cozart, Miles is a guy who doesn’t have a ton of basketball experience but will adapt to the game and see some playing time at certain points throughout the year.



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