SPARTANBURG, S.C. –The Chattanooga Mocs have been picked to win their fourth straight Southern Conference women’s basketball title, according to a vote by the league’s head coaches. UTC junior forward Jasmine Joyner was tabbed Preseason Player of the Year. Joyner averaged 12 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in 2014-15 on her way to first-team all-conference honors. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams or student-athletes as part of the balloting.
Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster will guide a group that returns nine players from a team went 29-4 (14-0 SoCon) and claimed the Southern Conference title last season. The Mocs collected 49 points and all seven possible first-place votes from the coaches.
Furman finished second in the balloting with 36 points. The Paladins posted a 19-14 mark last season in their sixth year under the guidance of head coach Jackie Carson. They return three starters for the upcoming campaign but will be without the services of All-SoCon forward Brittany Hodges, who graduated.
ETSU and Samford both received 35 points from the coaches and sit in a tie for third.
The Bucs will look to improve on their 21-12 (11-3 SoCon) mark in their inaugural season in the SoCon under the leadership of head coach Brittney Ezell. They return Tianna Tarter, an all-freshman selection from a year ago, and junior Shamauria Bridges, who was named second-team all-conference in 2014-15.
Samford, led by head coach Mike Morris, received the only other first-place vote. The Bulldogs return all five starters this season and all but one reserve from a team that went 15-15 (8-6 SoCon) last season.
Mercer is slotted fifth with 29 points, followed by UNCG (19) in sixth, Western Carolina (11) at seventh and Wofford (10) at eighth. The Catamounts will be under the direction of first-year head coach Stephanie McCormick this season.
The coaches also selected a 10-member preseason all-conference team. Joyner is joined on the team by two UTC teammates in senior Alicia Payne and junior Chelsey Shumpert.
ETSU and Furman both have two representatives. Bridges and Tarter from the Bucs made the squad, while the Paladins placed junior Whitney Bunn and senior Holli Wilkins.
Mercer sophomore Kahlia Lawrence, Samford senior Taylor Reece and UNCG senior Lucy Mason round out the preseason all-conference team.
All eight SoCon teams will kick off the regular season on Friday, Nov. 13. The 2016 Southern Conference Championship presented by General Shale will be held March 3-6 at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C.
Predicted Order of Finish
Team (First-Place Votes) Total
1. Chattanooga (7) 49
2. Furman 36
3. ETSU 35
Samford (1) 35
5. Mercer 29
6. UNCG 19
7. Western Carolina 11
8. Wofford 10
2015-16 Preseason All-Conference Team
Shamauria Bridges, ETSU
Tianna Tarter, ETSU
Whitney Bunn, Furman
Holli Wilkins, Furman
Kahlia Lawrence, Mercer
Lucy Mason, UNCG
Taylor Reece, Samford
Jasmine Joyner, Chattanooga
Alicia Payne, Chattanooga
Chelsey Shumpert, Chattanooga
2015-16 Preseason Player of the Year
Jasmine Joyner, Chattanooga