Sports

Scouting the Big South

Winthrop celebrates with the Big South trophy after defeating UNC Asheville last season for the Eagles' fourth-straight tournament title.

(Andy Burriss • aburriss@heraldonline.com)
Winthrop celebrates with the Big South trophy after defeating UNC Asheville last season for the Eagles' fourth-straight tournament title. (Andy Burriss • aburriss@heraldonline.com)

WINTHROP EAGLES

• Coach: Randy Peele (2nd season, 22-12; fifth season overall, 68-81).

• Last season: 22-12, 10-4 Big South (tied for regular season title, won conference tournament; lost first round NCAA to Washington State).

• Possible starters (x-returning): xF Mantoris Robinson 6-5 Jr. (5.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg); F Cameron Stanley 6-6 Sr. (transfer from Wake Forest); xC Charles Corbin 6-7 So. (6.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg); G Justin Burton 5-10 So. (2.3 ppg); G Raymond Davis 6-4 Jr. (junior college transfer).

• Others to watch: C-F George Valentine 6-8 So. (2 ppg, 2.6 rpg); F Chris Malcolm 6-7R-Fr.; G Byron Faison 6-1 So. (3.9 ppg); G Reggie Middleton 6-0 Fr.; G Andre Jones 6-2 Fr.; G Gideon Gamble 6-7 Fr.; G Marc-David Vil 6-4 So. (0.9 ppg, 1 rpg); G Chad DeWitt 6-2 Jr. (walk-on); F Jonathan Rice 6-5 Sr. (walk-on).

• What to expect: The Eagles have won four straight and eight of the last 10 Big South titles, so expecations of winning are there. But with so many young players and 6-9 Andy Buechert out for the year with a knee injury, this team could be a year away. Peele has to find some scorers and a way to rebound. They, as always, will defend. The schedule is brutal. But this team may have more room to improve by conference tournament time than any in the league.

RADFORD HIGHLANDERS

• Coach: Brad Greenberg (2nd season, 10-20).

• Last season: 10-20, 5-9 Big South (6th; lost first round of conference tournament.

• Possible starters (x-returning): xG Martell McDuffy 6-4 Sr. (14.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg); xG Amir Johnson 5-9 Jr. (13.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg); xG Kenny Thomas 6-3 Sr. (14.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg); xF Joey Lynch-Flohr 6-8 Jr. (11.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg); C Artsiom Parakhouski 6-11 Jr. (junior college transfer).

• Others to watch: xF Eric Hall 6-8 Sr. (5.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg); G Aaron Austin 6-3 Fr.; G Daniel Mitchell 6-3 Fr.; G Chris McEachin 6-5 So. (1.6 ppg); G Cole Wilder 6-1 Jr. (2.5 ppg); F Nick McFarlin 6-7 So. (1.6 ppg, 1.4 rpg); G Phillip Martin 6-6 Jr. (4 ppg, 2.9 rpg).

• What to expect: In some polls, the Highlanders, with five starters returning, were the pick to win the league. The addition of Parakhouski, a 260-pounder who can run and step out and shoot the 15-foot jumper, is the biggest reason. Lynch-Flohr won't have to shoulder all the rebound load. But this is also the same team that lost 20 games. If they contend for the title, Johnson, an erratic performer at the point, must have a very good year. If he stumbles, watch for Austin to get more minutes.

GARDNER-WEBB BULLDOGS

• Coach: Rick Scruggs (15th season, 178-180; 22nd season overall, 356-295).

• Last season: 16-16, 9-7 in Atlantic Sun Conference (T5).

• Possible starters (x-returning): xC Auryn MacMillan 6-8 Jr. (4.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg); xF Nate Blank 6-4 So. (10.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg); G Anton Silver 6-2 Jr. (junior college transfer); xG Grayson Flittner 6-0 Jr. (15.3 ppg, 3.8 apg); xG Aaron Linn 6-3 Sr. (12.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg).

• Others to watch: C Roy Hinson 6-6 Jr. (junior college transfer); F Lu Dovonou 6-5 Jr. (2.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg); G Jonathan Moore 6-4 Jr. (junior college transfer); F Josh Henley 6-4 Fr.; G Takayo Siddle 5-11 Sr. (5.5 ppg, 2 apg); G Josh Maggard 6-0 Fr.

• What to expect: Some think the Bulldogs, in their first year in the league, will make a hard run at the league title. With four starters returning, including what could be the league's best backcourt in Linn and Flittner, and A-Sun freshman of the year Blank, Scruggs has plenty of veterans. This is a team that won at Kentucky last year, but is also a team that gave up 75 points a game, turned the ball over 16 times a game and was beaten on the glass on a regular basis. The Bulldogs were 3-2 against Big South teams a year ago.

LIBERTY FLAMES

• Coach: Ritchie McKay (2nd season, 16-16; 13th season overall, 181-174).

• Last season: 16-16, 7-7 Big South (4th); lost conference tournament semifinals.

• Possible starters (x-returning): G Seth Curry 6-3 Fr.; xG Anthony Smith 6-5 Sr. (16 ppg, 5 rpg); C Carter McMasters 6-11 Fr.; F Tyler Baker 6-9 Jr. (4.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg); G Jeremy Anderson 6-4 So. (6.8 ppg).

• Others to watch: G Kyle Ohman 6-4 Jr. (7.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg); G Brolin Floyd 6-6 Fr.; G Jesse Sanders 6-3 Fr.; F Austin Smith 6-9 Fr.; G Johnny Stephene 6-2 R-Fr.; G Bill Weaver 6-4 Fr.; G David Minaya 6-6 So.

• What to expect: No matter what the league, if you're relying on freshmen, it's goin to be a tough year. The Flames have some talent, but beyond Smith, Ohman and Anderson, no experience. Curry, the brother of Davidson's Stephen Curry, will get lots of hype, minutes and shots on a team that lost four of its top eight players. One recruiting publication listed McKay's class in the top 40 nationally. We'll see.

HIGH POINT PANTHERS

• Coach: Bart Lundy (6th season, 87-66; 10th season overall, 202-105).

• Last season: 17-14, 8-6 Big South (3rd); lost in conference tournament semifinals.

• Possible starters (x-returning): xG Eugene Harris 6-2 Jr. (12.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg); xG David Campbell 6-4 So. (4.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg); xG David Singleton 6-3 Fr.; xC Cruz Daniels 6-11 Jr. (5.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg); F Jourdan Morris 6-7 So. (transfer from St. Bonaventure);

• Others to watch: G Nick Barbour 6-2 Fr.; G Jacob Iati 5-11 Fr.; F Melvin Crowder 6-5 Sr. (1.8 ppg); G Ibrahim Appiah 6-5 So.; G Alquan Mendenhall 5-11 R-Fr.; F Steadman Short 6-9 Fr.; F Earnest Bridges 6-5 So. (2.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg); G Corey Law 6-5 Fr.; C Rob Huntington 6-9 Fr.

• What to expect: Lundy lost the league's best player in Arizona Reid and steady guard Mike Jefferson but hopes to offset that with a recruiting class he calls his "best by far." Veterans Harris, Daniels and Campbell need good years, but Morris, Short, Barbour, Law and Singleton are the future of the Panthers. This is a very talented team that, along with Winthrop, has the biggest window for improvement through the season. Look out in February and the conference tournament.

CHARLESTON SOUTHERN BUCCANEERS

• Coach: Barclay Radebaugh (4th season, 31-58; 5th season overall, 52-66).

• Last season: 10-20, 4-10 Big South (8th); lost in first round conference tournament.

• Possible starters (x-returning): xF Omar Carter 6-5 So. (15.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg); xF Geidrius Knysas 6-10 Sr. (4.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg); xG Jamarco Warren 5-11 So. (6.9 ppg, 2.6 apg); xG Tovi Bailey 6-1 So. (6.9 ppg, 2.2 apg); F Kelvin Martin 6-5 Fr.

• Others to watch: F Quinton Goods 6-9 Jr. (3.9 ppg, 4 rpg); F Kenny Mitchell 6-7 Fr.; C Billy Blackmon 6-10 Jr. (junior college transfer); G JR Knight 6-2 Sr; G Austin Johnson 6-3 So. (3.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg); G Glenn Self 6-0 Fr.

• What to expect: Only Radford returns more starters, giving Radebaugh hope this is the season that jump starts his program. Carter, Warren and Bailey form a good nucleus and he loves Martin's potential. Still, this is a team that doesn't rebound well and has not bought into the idea that defense wins games. The Bucs gave up almost 80 points per game and opponents shot 46 percent. If the Bucs don't play some "D," nothing's going to change.

VMI KEYDETS

• Coach: Duggar Baucom (4th season, 35-54; 6th season overall, 72-73).

• Last season: 14-15, 6-8 Big South (T5th); lost first round conference tournament.

• Possible starters (x-returning): xF Willie Bell 6-8 Sr. (8.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg); xG Chavis Holmes 6-4 Sr. (18.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg); xG Travis Holmes 6-4 Sr. (15.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg); xG Adam Lonon 5-11 Jr. (4.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg); G Austin Kenon 5-11 So. (12.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg).

• Others to watch: F Quinn Brownfield 6-7 So. (2.6 ppg, 1.3 rpg); F Hunter Houston 6-6 So. (3.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg); F Carl Josey 6-5 Jr. (1.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg); C Stephen Sargent 7-0 R-Fr.; F Ron Burks 6-4 Fr.; G Keith Gabriel 6-2 Fr.; g Michael Sparks 6-4 Fr.; F Wayne Whiting 6-7 Fr.

• What to expect: Baucom lost Reggie Williams, the Big South's all-time leading scorer, from a team that has averaged 100 and 91 points the past two seasons playing a frenetic pace. With more recruits that fit the system, Baucom says the goal is to play even faster this year and get up more 3-pointers. Moving the 3-point line back a foot, he says, won't hurt his team. The Holmes twins should be the leaders, but he's got to get something from a stable of small, but quick freshmen.

COASTAL CAROLINA CHANTICLEERS

• Coach: Cliff Ellis (2nd season, 13-15; 33rd season overall, 625-364).

• Last season: 13-15, 6-8 Big South (T5th); lost first round conference tournament.

• Possible starters (x-returning): xG Mario Sisinni 6-0 Sr. (5.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg); xF Joseph Harris 6-5 R-Jr. (8.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg); xF Anthony Breeze 6-5 So. (9.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg); G Mario Edwards 6-3 Jr. (junior college transfer); xF Logan Johnson 6-6 Jr. (7.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg).

• Others to watch: F Sam McLaurin 6-8 Fr.; G Dexter Moore 6-2 Fr.; F Matt Brennan 6-8 Sr. (1.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg); G Steven Sexton 6-2 Sr. (6.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg); C Jon Pack 6-10 R-Fr.; F Marcus Macellari 6-7 Fr.

• What to expect: With injuries taking away Harris and Everage Richardson, Ellis worked wonders getting 13 wins out of this team. He's lost Jack Leasure, but hopes a more athletic recruiting class will provide some needed depth. Harris and Breeze may be the best pair of rebouding 6-5 forwards in the nation. This team lacks shooters, with Sexton the only pure shooter of the bunch. But Ellis loves Edwards, who could be a big impact player in the league.

UNC ASHEVILLE BULLDOGS

• Coach: Eddie Biedenbach (13th seaon, 166-186; 15th season overall, 196-237).

• Last season: 23-10, 10-4 Big South (T1st); lost in conference tournament finals and in first round of NIT.

• Possible starters (x-returning): xF Reid Augst 6-6 Sr. (10.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg); G Donovan Jones 6-0 R-So. (sat out medical redshirt last year); G Sean Smith 6-6 Jr. (5 ppg, 2.1 rpg); F John Williams 6-4 So. (6.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg); G Chris Stephenson 6-3 Fr.

• Others to watch: C Eric Stubbs 6-8 So.; G Matt Dickey 6-1 Fr.; G Rashad Gill 6-5 So.; G J.P. Primm 6-1 Fr.; F Terrence Turner 6-5 Fr.; F Matt Kittrell 6-9 Fr.; F Quinard Jackson 6-5 Fr.; C Sean Hobbs 7-2 Fr.; F Jason Ridenhour 6-6 R-Jr.; F Jeremy Harn 6-8 Fr.

• What to expect: Biedenbach lost four starters, including guards K.J. Garland and Bryan Smithson, to graduation and then got the tragic news about 7-7 Kenny George, who had to have part of his foot amputated during the summer, ending his career. The Bulldogs are starting over, especially in the backcourt. Jones and Smith will be a big drop off from last year and without George, the defense is suspect. Williams could have a breakout year, but this team is too young to be a factor this season.

PRESBYTERIAN BLUE HOSE

• Coach: Gregg Nibert (20th season, 332-231).

• Last season: 5-25, Division I independent.

• Possible starters (x-returning): xF Al'Lonzo Coleman 6-8 So. (11.2 ppg, 5 rpg); xG Bryan Bostic 6-3 Sr. (10 ppg, 4.4 rpg); xG Josh Johnson 6-3 So. (7.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg); G Aaron Gibbs 6-4 R-Fr.; G Pierre Miller 5-10 So. (5.7 ppg, 2.6 apg).

• Others to watch: F Travis Sligh 6-5 Sr. (5.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg); F Walt Allen 6-5 Jr. (3.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg); G Bo King 6-2 Fr.; G Kevin Davis 6-2 Fr.; F Kyle Jazwiecki 6-8 Fr.; F Jake Troyli 6-10 Fr.; C Steven Yien Gatkuoth 7-0 R-Fr.; G Daniel Brown 5-11 Fr.; G Chase Holmes 6-4 Fr.

• What to expect: The Blue Hose can't play in the conference tournament, but they can compete for the regular season title and they just might, with Nibert's disciplined style and Coleman, who may be the best player in the league. The Hose rely on shooting, defense and not beating themselves. Plus, they get to play more than five home games this year. They were 5-0 at home a year ago and have won 12 straight there. This team will win some games no one expects this season and be a factor in the league race.

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