Men's hoops preseason all-conference, polls announced
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 10/25/2017
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Furman's Devin Sibley
Courtesy: Southern Conference

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Mercer was the narrow favorite to win the Southern Conference in preseason polling of the league’s 10 men’s basketball coaches, while Furman senior guard Devin Sibley was the coaches’ pick for preseason player of the year. The league’s media predicted Furman to win the SoCon in 2017-18.

Sibley, the reigning SoCon Player of the Year, averaged 17.7 points per game in helping the Paladins to a share of the league’s regular-season title last year.

The coaches, who also picked a 10-member preseason all-conference team, were not allowed to vote for their own teams or student-athletes as part of the balloting.

Mercer picked up four first-place votes and 71 total points in the coaches’ poll to edge Samford, which garnered three first-place votes and 70 points. The Bears, who went 15-17 overall and 9-9 in the SoCon in 2016-17, return all five starters from last year, including preseason all-conference selection Ria’n Holland, a senior guard. Mercer was slotted sixth in the media poll with 154 points and two first-place votes.

Furman went 23-12 overall and 14-4 in league play last season and reached the semifinals of the Postseason Tournament. The Paladins, who return four starters and are under the direction of first-year coach Bob Richey, earned 197 points and eight first-place votes in the media poll and were slotted third in the coaches’ poll, picking up 65 points and one first-place vote. Sibley is joined on the preseason all-conference team by teammate and fellow senior guard Daniel Fowler.

Samford went 20-16 last season, posting its first winning season since 2005-06 and claiming its first-ever postseason win with a 78-74 victory over Canisius in the Postseason Tournament. The Bulldogs return all five starters this season and put senior forward Demetrius Denzel-Dyson and junior center Wyatt Walker on the preseason all-conference team. The Bulldogs were second in both polls, picking up 184 points and four first-place votes in the media poll.

Reigning SoCon tournament champion ETSU was selected fourth in the both polls, finishing one point behind Furman in the coaches poll with 64 points and two first-place votes and garnering 178 points and four first-place votes in the media poll. The Bucs, who earned a share of last year’s regular-season title at 27-8 overall and 14-4 in the league, put senior guard Desonta Bradford, their lone returning starter from last year’s squad, on the preseason all-conference team.

UNCG was slotted third in the media poll (183 points, four first-place votes) and fifth in the coaches’ poll (52 points). The Spartans won a program-record 25 games last year, going 25-10 overall and 14-4 in the league to claim a share of the SoCon title. UNCG reached the title game of the conference tournament and earned the league’s automatic bid to the NIT. Junior guard Francis Alonso earned a spot on the preseason all-conference team.

Wofford was fifth in the media poll (165 points, two first-place votes) and sixth in the coaches’ poll (43 points). The Terriers put junior forward Cameron Jackson and junior guard Fletcher Magee on the preseason all-conference team.

The Citadel and Chattanooga tied for seventh in the coaches’ rankings with 27 points apiece. Sophomore guard Preston Parks represents the Bulldogs on the preseason squad and is the only underclassman on the team.

Chattanooga, which has a new head coach in Lamont Paris, finished seventh in the media poll with 97 points, with The Citadel landing eighth with 70.

Western Carolina (66 points media, 22 points coaches) and VMI (26 points media, nine points coaches) finished ninth and 10th in both polls, respectively.

The 2017-18 season begins Nov. 10 with all 10 league teams in action.

The 2018 SoCon Men’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale will be held March 2-5 at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

2017-18 Preseason Southern Conference Coaches Poll
Team (1st-place votes) Total
1. Mercer (4)              71
2. Samford (3)            70
3. Furman (1)             65
4. ETSU (2)                64
5. UNCG                    52
6. Wofford                  43
7. The Citadel            27
    Chattanooga          27
9. Western Carolina   22
10. VMI                      9

2017-18 Preseason Player of the Year
Devin Sibley, Sr., G, Furman

2017-18 Preseason All-Southern Conference Team
Preston Parks, So., G, The Citadel
Desonta Bradford, Sr., G, ETSU
Daniel Fowler, Sr., G, Furman
Devin Sibley, Sr., G, Furman
Ria’n Holland, Sr., G, Mercer
Francis Alonso, Jr., G, UNCG
Demetrius Denzel-Dyson, Sr., F, Samford
Wyatt Walker, Jr., C, Samford
Cameron Jackson, Jr., F, Wofford
Fletcher Magee, Jr., G, Wofford

2017-18 Preseason Southern Conference Media Poll
Team (1st-place votes) Total
1. Furman (8)             197
2. Samford (4)            184
3. UNCG (4)               183
4. ETSU (4)                178
5. Wofford (2)             165
6. Mercer (2)              154
7. Chattanooga          97
8. The Citadel            70
9. Western Carolina   66
10. VMI                      26

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