Detroit — Things came easy, at times, for Corey Allen during his freshman year at Detroit Mercy, showing his ability as a scorer after an outstanding high school career at Ypsilanti.
Now, Allen will try to build off his season where he averaged 14.4 points and shot 44.8 percent from 3-point range to help the Titans climb the ladder in the Horizon League after last year’s 8-23 record (6-12 Horizon).
Allen scored 33 on 9-of-13 shooting from deep range against Fort Wayne, the most ever by a true freshman since former Piston John Long scored 31 against Bradley in 1975.
Allen, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, is in the best shape of his life at 205 pounds and can get to the basket as well as hit the perimeter shot.
“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to shoot that well because in the summer I was kind of off, but then during the season I just kind of got on (target),” Allen said. “This year I’m going after the same type of year. I want to be an all-conference player and help my team win.
“We have a great schedule. I can’t wait to play Michigan, a big team in front of that kind of environment. That’s going to be great.”
The Titans will play a challenging schedule, which includes the season opener at Virginia Tech Nov. 10, playing at UCLA Dec. 3 and facing the Wolverines at Little Caesars Arena on Dec. 16.
“I’ve dropped down to 205 right now and I feel like I’m quicker, able to get to the basket better,” said Allen, who will be joined in the backcourt by junior Josh McFolley who averaged 13.8 points and shot 36.6 percent from the field.
The Titans have a dominant post threat inside in 6-7, 260-pound Jaleel Hogan (15.2 points, 5.8 rebounds) who expects big things from Allen this season.
“Corey Allen has been waiting for this all his life, just building on his freshman season which was a stellar season so I’m looking forward to what he can do,” said Hogan of Allen.
Allen scored 27 in a win over Youngstown State, making 6-of-10 3-pointers and scored 24 against Cleveland State, making 6-of-9 3s.
The Titans will add 6-8 Kameron Chatman, a transfer from Michigan and former four-star commit, to the mix. He is looking forward to playing with Allen and Hogan.
“It’s great to have Jaleel back, just his presence in the paint and what he did on the court, and Corey Allen, they had great years and they both plan on building off of it so I’m looking forward to playing with them,” Chatman said.
Detroit Mercy Titans
Coach: Bacari Alexander (Second season, 8-23, 6-12 Horizon)
Last year’s record: 8-23 (6-12 Horizon)
Top returning players: Jaleel Hogan, 6-7, Sr., center (15.2 points, 5.8 rebounds); Corey Allen, 6-3, So., guard (14.4 points, 44.8 percent 3-point shooting); Josh McFolley, 6-2, Jr., guard (13.8 points, 36.6 percent 3-point shooting).
Who can’t have a bad season? Jaleel Hogan who is the Titans’ inside presence and has to keep opponents honest so they can do damage from the perimeter. He is capable of averaging a double-double.
Who must have a good season? Kameron Chatman who has the ability to score inside, from the perimeter or by scoring in transition. Expect him to play multiple positions and play them well.
This player will surprise everyone with a big season: Freshman Jermaine Jackson will get valuable playing time at the point and produce at a high level while taking his share of lumps along the way.
Detroit Mercy can win the Horizon League championship if ... Chatman plays up to his potential, Hogan takes his game to the next level and Allen and McFolley equal their production of a year ago.
Detroit Mercy won’t win the Horizon League if ... the Titans don’t get solid point guard play, Hogan is inconsistent and Chatman doesn’t have an all-conference type of season.
Toughest opponent: Defending Big Ten tournament champion Michigan, Dec. 16 at Little Caesars Arena.
Team to not overlook on the schedule: Western Michigan finished .500 last season, but had a strong finish and returns all but one starter to be the preseason favorite in the Mid-American Conference. The Titans will host the Broncos Dec. 9 at Calihan Hall.