SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Elon Phoenix has been tabbed the preseason favorite to win the Southern Conference men’s basketball title in 2013-14, according to a vote by the league’s head coaches, while Davidson senior forward De’Mon Brooks was named the SoCon Preseason Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams or student-athletes as part of the balloting.
Head coach Matt Matheny enters his fifth season with the Phoenix and returns 12 lettermen and five starters from a squad that went 21-12 last season, won the league’s North Division, and earned a berth in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Elon earned seven first-place votes and finished the balloting with 96 points.
Davidson was chosen second (90) and earned three first-place votes. Head coach Bob McKillop enters his 25th season on the bench with the Wildcats. Western Carolina earned the final first-place vote and came in third with 82 points. Head coach Larry Hunter returns all five starters from a season ago.
Appalachian State and Samford tied for fourth place with 67 points apiece. Wofford (57) was selected sixth, followed by Chattanooga (50) and UNCG (32). Georgia Southern, under the direction of first-year head coach Mark Byington, was tabbed ninth (30), while Furman followed in 10th place (20). The Paladins now are under the direction of Niko Medved, who previously served as an assistant coach at Furman from 2000-06. The Citadel (14) rounded out the poll.
The coaches also selected a 10-member preseason all-conference team. Brooks, who was named the Southern Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player last season, averaged 13.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a junior and shot 50 percent from the field.
He was joined on the preseason all-conference team by Appalachian State’s Jay Canty as well as a trio from Elon. Ryley Beaumont, Jack Isenbarger and Lucas Troutman were all tabbed preseason honorees. Both Isenbarger and Troutman were named all-conference at the conclusion of the 2013 season.
Samford placed a pair of Bulldogs on the preseason all-conference team. Raijon Kelly earned all-league honors a season ago, while teammate Tim Williams was named the league’s Freshman of the Year.
Chattanooga’s Z. Mason, Western Carolina’s Trey Sumler and Wofford’s Karl Cochran were named to the preseason team. Mason and Cochran were tabbed all-conference honorees by the league’s media last season, while Sumler earned the nod from both the coaches and media last winter. A senior, Sumler is the league’s leading returning scorer after averaging 18.4 points per game as a junior.
All 11 Southern Conference teams will take the floor Nov. 8 to start the regular season. The 2014 Southern Conference Tournament will be held March 7-10 at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C.
Team (1st-Place Votes) Total
1. Elon (7) 96
2. Davidson (3) 90
3. Western Carolina (1) 82
4. Appalachian State 67
6. Wofford 57
7. Chattanooga 50
8. UNCG 32
9. Georgia Southern 30
10. Furman 20
11. The Citadel 14
2013-14 Preseason All-Conference Team
Jay Canty, Appalachian State
De’Mon Brooks, Davidson
Ryley Beaumont, Elon
Jack Isenbarger, Elon
Lucas Troutman, Elon
Raijon Kelly, Samford
Tim Williams, Samford
Z. Mason, Chattanooga
Trey Sumler, Western Carolina
Karl Cochran, Wofford
2013-14 Preseason Player of the Year
De’Mon Brooks, Davidson