March is another nine days away, but that doesn’t mean the Madness has to wait.
The Herald’s Imaginary All-Time Big South Conference 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament begins Tuesday, Feb. 20 with two play-in games. Fan voting at heraldonline.com will determine the games’ outcomes, with voting for the play-in games beginning Feb. 19 at 7 p.m., and concluding Feb. 20 at 5 p.m.
The winners of the two play-in games advance to the eight-team bracket, which begins play (voting) Tuesday evening. The bracket was determined by each school’s all-time winning percentage in Big South Conference play. Winthrop claimed the No. 1 seed.
Check out the profiles of the four teams -- Campbell, Longwood, Charleston Southern and Presbyterian -- competing in the play-in games, then vote for the teams you think would advance.
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No. 7 Campbell
It’s not clear if Chris Clemons’ teammates in this kind of basketball would be so willing to let him dominate the shooting like he does in real life. Henry Wilson and Joe Spinks could play, too. Wilson and Spinks were tough players inside, especially on the defensive end of the court, but they would probably pair pretty well with Clemons. He’d be the main source of offense, while Jonathan Rodriguez would provide similar skills to Wilson and Spinks off the bench.
Chris Clemons (2015-present) - Clemons will finish his college career as one of the best scorers in Big South history. The 5-foot-9 guard was named Big South freshman of the year in 2016, and started this season by earning 2017-18 preseason player of the year. He’s scored double figures in 88 of his 89 college games (as of Feb. 19), and is only about 80 points from taking over the school’s career scoring record. Clemons is a microwave scorer that set a Big South tournament record with 51 points in an upset win over UNC Asheville in 2017.
Joe Spinks (1990-94) - The 6-foot-7 forward is one of three players in Big South history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 steals and 100 blocks. Spinks was a three-time Big South all-conference first team selection, and he made one of the all-conference teams all four years at Campbell. Spinks, the 1991 Big South freshman of the year and 1994 Big South player of the year, led Campbell to wins over NC State and South Carolina that season. He’s the fourth all-time leading scorer and second all-time rebounder in Campbell history, finishing his career with averages of 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds.
Henry Wilson (1985-1989) - The 6-foot-7 native of Hopkins, S.C. was a three-time Big South all-conference first team selection. Wilson is Campbell’s career leader in blocked shots and seventh all-time leading scorer in school history. He averaged over 18 points per game each of his last two seasons in Buies Creek.
Off the bench: Jonathan Rodriguez (2006-10) - The 6-foot-5 Puerto Rican is the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. He was MidMajority.com’s Atlantic Sun player of the year in 2008, and owns the school record for most career starts. Rodriguez, who made four Atlantic Sun all-conference teams, including three firsts, had 48 different 20-point games during his run with the Camels.
No. 10 Longwood
The 10th-seeded Lancers have one of the relatively few NBA players involved in the tournament, former Portland Trailblazer Jerome Kersey. He gives Longwood a workhorse down low, alongside fellow poet of the paint, Antwan Carter, which should help the Lancers clear their backboards. Maurice Sumter and Kevin “Coop” Jefferson give Longwood’s team some scoring pop, but this team probably lacks a play-maker. No worries, this is still Kersey’s show.
Jerome Kersey (1980-84) - The 6-foot-7 Kersey scored 1,756 points for the Lancers before playing in the NBA for 17 years with the Portland Trail Blazers and several other teams. At Longwood, Kersey was a two-time NCAA Division II All-American. Longwood’s career leading rebounder averaged over 11 boards per game for the Lancers and is also the school’s third all-time leading scorer and all-time leader in steals. Longwood’s court is named in Kersey’s honor. He passed away in 2015.
Antwan Carter (2008-12) - Longwood’s all-time leading scorer with 1,886 points and second all-time leading rebounder averaged 15.3 points per game during his four years with the Lancers. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Carter earned numerous awards during the Lancers’ tenure as an NCAA Division I independent team, just prior to becoming a full member of the Big South Conference. With a really athletic, downhill imaginary Longwood foursome, Carter would almost operate as the point guard out of the post.
Maurice Sumter (2003-07) - Sumter scored 1,604 points, fourth all-time at Longwood. The 6-foot-5 guard is Longwood’s Division I all-time steals leader (third overall), giving them more defense to go with Kersey’s quick hands.
Off the bench: Kevin “Coop” Jefferson (1986-90) - school’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,806 points. Jefferson averaged 25.6 points per game his senior season in 1989-90 and is the school’s all-time leader in dunks, with 107. When Kersey gets tired of dunking on fools, Jefferson can check into the game and do the same.
No. 8 Charleston Southern
Like all good Charleston Southern teams in the last 10 years, this Bucs foursome is built on driving and kicking, an offense created around the smallest guy on the floor, point guard Saah Nimley. Some of Charleston Southern’s best teams in recent years focused on Nimley and this one will be no exception. Kelvin Martin gives the Bucs a post presence, while Ben Hinson and Brett Larrick (off the bench) provide this 3-on-3 team with the floor-spacing 3-point shooters that allow them to thrive.
Ben Hinson (1983-87) - Hinson, a 6-foot-4 guard, was a two-time Big South tournament MVP and is the all-time leading scorer in CSU history (2,295 points). The 6-foot-4 guard could really shoot from 3-point range, giving this team the spacing it would need to use its point guard, Nimley, to full impact. Close out on Hinson too fast, and he’d go right by you. He never averaged less than 15 points per game in his college career.
Saah Nimley (2011-15) - The diminutive point guard wizard is Charleston Southern’s third all-time leading scorer and all-time leader in assists. Nimley was a two-time first team All-Big South selection and was named Big South player of the year in 2015. He helped the Bucs to two Big South regular season titles and two NIT appearances (2013, 2015), and is second in school history in 3-pointers. Nimley is the school’s all-time leader in free throws made, and he’d be the engine for this imaginary team’s offense.
Kelvin Martin (2008-12) - Martin is one of three players in Big South history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 steals and 100 blocks. The two-time all-conference selection was also a two-time winner of the league’s defensive player of the year award. Martin is the school’s second all-time leading rebounder, eighth all-time leading scorer and third all-time in steals. He gives this Bucs trio more juice in the post.
Off the bench: Brett Larrick (1993-97) - The Bucs’ fourth all-time leading scorer, the 6-foot-4 Larrick is third in CSU history in made 3-pointers. He averaged double figure scoring all four years of college, including 20 points per game his senior season and would have combined well in real life with a point guard like Nimley.
No. 9 Presbyterian
No question, the Blue Hose are the Imaginary All-Time 3-on-3 tourney underdog. Presbyterian has a short Division I basketball history (11 years) and little to no information about its basketball past available on its school’s athletic web site. Presbyterian has had some useful players in recent years, though, including one that transferred in -- Jordan Downing -- and one that transferred out -- DeSean Murray. This team has a good mix of inside-outside talents, but no clear ball-handler. Can Presbyterian pull off a tournament upset and make it into the final eight?
Khalid Mutakabbir (2009-13) - Mutakabbir is the Big South Conference’s all-time leader in minutes played, with nearly 400 more than the second placed player. So at least you know Mutakabbir is ready for the long haul, should there be one. The 6-foot-4 guard from Georgia averaged double figure scoring three out of four years, graduating with a 12.8 point-per game average. H also shot 37 percent from 3-point range.
Jordan Downing (2012-15) - Sweet-shooting wing that was never afraid to heave a 3, Downing transferred to Presbyterian from Davidson and shot 38 percent from beyond the arc, while averaging 16.7 points per game during his three years in Clinton. The 6-foot-5 guard scored 20.2 points per outing as a junior. This Presbyterian 3-on-3 team would need him to have a big game to advance to the next round.
Al’Lonzo Coleman (2007-12) - One of Presbyterian’s most productive Division I players, Coleman averaged double-digit scoring each of his four years of college. The 6-foot-7, 255-pound Charlotte native graduated with 14.3-point and 7.5-rebound per game averages and will anchor this foursome in the paint.
Off the bench: DeSean Murray (2014-16) - Murray is still playing, but at Auburn, not Presbyterian. Still, he’s eligible for this tournament after two very productive seasons in Clinton where he was a load in the paint. The 6-foot-5 Murray was a first team Big South all-conference selection in 2016. He averaged 18.4 points per game during his two years at Presbyterian, along with 7.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists, and it’s not surprising that Murray is contributing at Auburn this season.