The Drake Bulldogs will look to rebound from last year's mediocre mark of 17-16 by kicking off the 2009-2010 season against the IUPUI Jaguars.
The game is one of five on-campus contests in the third annual Glenn Wilkes Classic. Saturday will mark the first time in history that the two schools have met.
It's hard to place a prediction on the game, with the Bulldog squad being the school's youngest since the 1990-91 season—yet the talent and potential is undeniably present.
Everything rests on Drake's senior trio of F Adam Templeton, G Craig Stanely, and G Josh Young—the team's key leader.
Young struggled with health issues last season but—when healthy and supported by his teammates—he is one of the most dangerous players in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Drake's supporting cast includes 10 players who have yet to see college basketball action, most of them up front for the Bulldogs.
The focus will be on the big men. Drake will see just how fast its young and inexperienced frontcourt led by Templeton and freshman Ben Simmons—former Mr. Michigan Basketball runner-up—can gel against a much more experienced Jaguars squad led by senior forward Robert Glenn.
Glenn was a welcome surprise for IUPUI last season, notching 13.9 PPG and 5.4 RPG. The Jaguars will need more of the same play from Glenn this season if they want to challenge for the Summit League championship.
Both teams mirror each other in the fact that they're looking for that "step-up" player.
IUPUI could have its man in sophomore forward Alex Young who averaged 10.8 PPG as a freshman.
Drake, on the other hand, will be asking players to step up in support of Young.
Junior Ryan Wedel—who was out of action last year after transferring from Arkansas State—could be the outside threat Drake needs to lessen teams' focus on Young. The former Mr. Kansas Basketball averaged 15.1 PPG and led the Sun Belt in three-point baskets in two seasons starting for the Red Wolves.
Whichever team finds the right people to step up their game will win this contest.
Afterwards, the Drake basketball program will have a better idea of where it stands: returning to the top or stuck in mediocrity.
Three Recruits for Bulldogs
The future of Drake basketball looks even brighter as three top recruits committed earlier this fall.
PG Karl Madison (Lanphier High School, Springfield, IL), SF Jeremy Jeffers (Greenfield High School, Wilson, NC), and SF Rayvonte Rice (Champaign Centennial High School, Champaign, IL) have all verbally stated they'll be attending Drake next fall. ESPN scouts score the three as 90, 88, and 85 overall, respectively.
All three recruits could see immediate action next season.
The 2010 recruiting class is shaping up to challenge this year's freshman class—which was considered by Yahoo Sports to be Drake's most talented in 20 years.