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College hoops summer catchup: Atlantic 10 Conference

The season of previewing is not upon us just yet, but the season of reviewing the state of each conference most certainly is. We continue today with the Atlantic 10.

Streeter Lecka

We've officially reached that awkward point in the college hoops offseason where the dust has mostly settled from all the transfer/coaching carousel madness, but it's still far too early to start any serious previewing of the 2014-15 season.

In keeping with the spirit of the season, it's time to continue our series of brief rundowns of what each conference looks like after all the moving and shaking that has happened since Connecticut cut down the nets in Dallas. Today we look at an Atlantic 10 Conference which sent a record six teams to the Big Dance in 2014, and saw one of them (Dayton) become America's sweethearts after advancing all the way to the Elite Eight.

THREE BIGGEST STORYLINES

1. The future of the conference tournament

The A-10 has held its league tournament in the plush confines of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the past two seasons, and will again for the next two. After that, however, things are going to have to change.

In March, the Barclays Center signed a two-year lease agreement with the ACC that will begin in 2017. That also means that the A-10 is in search of a two-year home before it can return to New York from 2019-21.

The geographically fitting Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence has reportedly emerged as an early favorite to host the tournament in 2017 and 2018, although the league is also still exploring options in Washington D.C., Pittsburgh and Orlando. The D.C. option got a little more complicated when the Big Ten booked the Verizon Center for 2017 back in May.

2. Derrick Gordon

Gordon made national headlines in April when he became the first active male NCAA Div. I basketball player to come out publicly. The news drew the expected onslaught of stories about how he would be treated by teammates, opposing players and fans during his junior season of 2014-15. Gordon then found himself back in the news a month later when it was revealed that he was dating CSI actor Gerald McCullough.

On the court, Gordon spent his sophomore season getting UMass back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. The 6'3, 200-pound guard averaged 9.4 points and 3.5 rebounds for Derek Kellogg's team, which earned a No. 6 seed in the Big Dance but was bounced in the Round of 64 by Tennessee.

The most interesting thing about Gordon's first season at UMass may have been that his personal success seemed to have almost a negative correlation with his team's success. When he was at his worst, the Minutemen were rolling. When he finally got into a groove, his squad started losing. Gordon scored 15 points in late-season losses to Dayton and Saint Louis, and was solid in both of his team's postseason losses.

Expectations were high for Gordon, who transferred from Western Kentucky in 2013-14, but adjusting to life in a backcourt that already featured star point guard Chaz Williams proved to be difficult at times. Gordon will likely be asked to shoulder much more of the scoring load now that Williams and his 15.6 points per game have moved on.

3. Davidson gives it a go with the big(ger) boys

Few programs have dominated their league as thoroughly as the Wildcats have dominated the Southern Conference over the past decade or so. Since 2002, the school has claimed 10 regular season conference championships and advanced to the NCAA Tournament six times. Davidson famously made it to the Elite Eight in 2008 with future NBA star Stephen Curry, and were a shot away from beating Kansas and advancing to the Final Four.

Now Bob McKillop's program is headed to the Atlantic 10, which will be an interesting experiment to follow for the next several seasons. It's sort of like taking Gonzaga and tossing them into the ACC or the Big Ten, except with fewer logistical issues.

While the upgrade in competition should provide Davidson with plenty of problems, it also will keep the Wildcats from a situation like last season where they went 15-1 in their conference and didn't make the Big Dance. Quid pro quo.

TRANSFERS: IN

Dayton
Charles Cooke (James Madison)

Duquesne
Rene Castro (Butler)

George Mason
Julian Royal (Georgia Tech)

George Washington 
Ryan McCoy (Manhattan)

La Salle
Jordan Price (Auburn)
Cleon Roberts (Georgia Southern)

Massachusetts
Jabarie Hinds (West Virginia)

Richmond
T.J. Cline (Niagara)

Saint Joseph's 
Aaron Brown (West Virginia)

Saint Louis
Achraf Yacoubou (Villanova)

TRANSFERS: OUT

Dayton
Alex Gavrilovic (Towson)
Khari Price

Duquesne
Isaiah Watkins
Tra'Vaughn White

Fordham
Jake Fay (Hartford)
Jared Fay
Jermaine Myers
Chris Whitehead

George Mason
Jonathan Arledge (Old Dominion)
Anali Okoloji (Eastern Michigan)

George Washington
Skyler White (Idaho)
Paris Maragkos (American)
Miguel Cartagena (College of Central Florida)

Rhode Island
Mike Powell

Richmond
Tim Singleton
Wayne Sparrow (UMBC)

Saint Bonaventure
Matthias Runs (Georgia Southwestern State)
Jean Yves Toupane (Gannon)

VCU
Jairus Lyles (Robert Morris)

MEANINGLESS SUMMER POWER RANKINGS WITH ONE SENTENCE TWITTER-ESQUE SUMMARIES

1. VCU - The last-minute collapse against Stephen F. Austin overshadowed the fact that the Rams could have played with anyone in the country last season, and will be able to again in 2014-15.

2. Dayton - Losing Devin Oliver, Vee Sanford and Khari Price hurts, but Flyers still have six guys who averaged at least 12 minutes per game coming back ... and Archie Miller.

3. Saint Joseph's - The 2014 conference tourney champs had eventual national champion Connecticut beaten in the Round of 64.

4. Richmond - Chris Mooney was bandied about as one of the top targets for California, but wound up sticking with the Spiders.

5. Rhode Island - Everyone expects Danny Hurley to get the Rams back as a player on the national scene; the only question is if it'll be this year.

6. George Washington - It's important for the Colonials to at least be in the mix this season in order to keep some of the momentum Mike Lonergan has created.

7. Saint Louis - If Jim Crews takes this team to the tournament then he should be a finalist for national Coach of the Year, because the Billikens are losing pretty much everything from last season.

8. UMass - Gordon will generate national interest because of his story, but lost in all of that is the fact that his team needs him to be really good if they want to compete for a conference title.

9. La Salle - The league's biggest disappointment in 2013-14 loses three key seniors from that squad.

10. Duquesne - No news is good news for basketball programs in June, a fact Jeremiah Jones and Micah Mason can certainly attest to.

11. St. Bonaventure - The Bonnies are going to have to adjust to life without their top two scorers for a second straight season.

12. George Mason - If this prediction is anywhere near true, then Paul Hewitt's fourth season at George Mason is likely going to be his last.

13. Davidson - The Wildcats couldn't have picked a worse season for this type of step-up in competition.

14. Fordham - All-Rookie Team honoree Jon Severe is cause for slight optimism, but Tom Pecora doesn't have much else to work with.