From the Basement | Why Tulane Basketball will make March Madness

Max Yazdian, Associate Sports Editor

Jalen Cook attempts a layup against Louisiana College. (Parker Waters)

I’m here to tell you that Tulane will be returning to March Madness for the first time in 27 years. I know it’s been a while, but I believe this is the team that will end the drought. 

While there are many reasons I believe the Green Wave will make the tournament, I have to start with the first team All-American Athletic Conference guard, Jalen Cook. I have been watching college basketball my whole life, and every year I see the same trait in successful teams. That trait is having a guard who can score the basketball. The Green Wave has that in star guard Jalen Cook. 

Jalen Cook was second in the conference in points per game last year, averaging 18, while only a freshman. It was clear anytime you watched a Tulane game that Jalen Cook is a walking bucket and is one of the best scorers Tulane has had in a long time. He was so good last year that he entered his name into the NBA Draft this off-season. 

While he ultimately decided to come back to New Orleans, Jalen Cook still worked hard during the offseason. By year’s end, I expect Cook to be in the mix for AAC Player of the Year and to have solidified himself as one of the best guards in the country. 

Another reason I am so high on Green Wave basketball this year is because of the young talent the team is returning. Tulane returns their top four scorers, who combined for a whopping 55.8 points per game last year. Tulane has an elite “Core 4” in place, with Jalen Cook, Jaylen Forbes, Kevin Cross and Sion James. These four now have over a year of experience playing with each other and showed at the end of last season that they are ready to take the leap that this program so desperately needs. 

The best part about these four is how well they complement one another. Jalen Cook and Jaylen Forbes, two former SEC commits, bring elite scoring from the guard position. Both these players made All-AAC teams last year and have shown no sign of slowing down. Kevin Cross has elite versatility, as he led the team in both rebounds and assists last season, and is the exact wing you would want playing next to the star guards. 

Lastly, Sion James is the leader of this team and the engine that makes it run. Sion has shown that he is one of the smartest players in the country and has flashed elite defensive ability over his two seasons with the Green Wave. Those four have all shown flashes of greatness at times, and there is no reason that this isn’t the year we see it all come together for them. 

While the experience that Tulane has returning is great, that doesn’t mean coach Ron Hunter stood pat this summer. Coach Hunter was able to go out and recruit two huge pieces. That may be exactly what the Green Wave needs to get over the hump. First, Hunter signed 3-star center, Percy Danials. Daniels is an “old school center” who fills a hole on this Green Wave Roster. He was a big-time get on the recruiting trail, as he had interest from multiple big-time schools. 

Next, Hunter went out and got transfer Colin Holloway from Georgetown. Holloway is a Louisiana native, who many believe can make a large impact immediately. Holloway has shown flashes of stardom — most notably in his 25-point outburst against number 14 Villanova last season. In that game, he shot 9-10 from the field, while chipping in five assists and three rebounds against one of the best teams in the country. If Holloway is able to reach his full potential, he has a chance to be a star for this Green Wave program. 

Overall, all the pieces are in place for the Green Wave to end the drought and, finally, punch their ticket to the big dance. 

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