"The excitement for me and our program going into year six is the talent level we have right now," Zeigler said at CMU's annual media day on Tuesday afternoon in McGuirk Arena. "But, that excitement has to be somewhat guarded because of the youth that is still here."
The Central Michigan coaching staff inked highly regarded recruiting classes each of the last two years and those players have made their marks already with their athleticism.
"I'm excited about all the different (personnel) combinations we are going to have and the style we are going to be able play," he said. "We have guarded optimism for the expectations we have for ourselves, but I think that the biggest thing is we know we have a chance to be successful. The question is how successful? That part of it will bare itself as the season progresses."
Central's offense will be built upon returning starters Trey Zeigler (6-5, 203) and Derek Jackson (6-0, 171) on the wings.
Zeigler earned honorable mention All-Mid-American Conference honors last season while averaging 16.3 points per game. Jackson chipped in 7.5 points per game and averaged double figures over the last 13 contests as a starter.
Four other Chippewas return to the mix, including three who made at least four starts last season — senior forward Andre Coimbra (6-9, 235), junior point guard John Morris (5-10, 157) and junior guard Finis Craddock (6-1, 179). Sophomore forward Colin Voss (6-7, 236) averaged under 10 minutes per game last season but the coaching staff is expecting him to emerge into a starting role this year.
The other returning letterwinner, senior guard Paris Paramore (6-0, 179), is questionable for the season with a medical condition.
The incoming recruiting class filled CMU's needs at point guard and for a knock-down three-point shooter. Central also added another athletic big man who can get up the floor fast.
Freshmen Austin McBroom (6-0, 162) and Jorddan Myrick (5-11, 177) are both lightning quick, pass-first guards who have the ability to score if needed. McBroom has range from the outside while Myrick figures to be CMU's defensive stopper on the perimeter.
When the opposing defenses try to stop penetration, the Chippewas have freshman Austin Keel (6-3, 180) to kick it out to on the arc. Keel, a three-point sniper, helped lead his Winter Park (Fla.) High School team to a state championship while playing alongside National High School Player of the Year Austin Rivers, who signed at Duke.
Junior college transfer Olivier Mbaigoto (6-7, 225) will present matchup problems with his size, quickness and ability to step out and knock down a three.
Also looking to emerge are senior guard Nick Jordan (5-11, 188), junior forward Zach Saylor (6-8, 232) who has missed significant time the last three years with injuries, sophomore forward Jevon Harden (6-8, 222), redshirt freshman Auston Barnes (6-6, 196) and sophomore guard Luke Wiest (5-10, 179).
"Our scoring will be much more balanced," coach Zeigler said. "That should enable us to have a lot of improvements on the offensive side of the ball.
"We will be looking to push the ball more. We played Trey a ton a point guard last year. It stagnated us at times because it allowed teams to key in on him when he brought the ball across the court. Now with Myrick, McBroom and Morris, we have depth at the point guard position. It frees things up for Trey to get out in front of our offense and hopefully put us in a position to get out in transition. That's going to be a huge part of our attack as we move forward."