After a Division II Elite Eight appearance last season, the Lander Senators have been selected to win the Peach Belt Athletic Conference.
The Senators, which finished 25-7 and second in the PBAC North Division behind Augusta State, return two starters off last year's squad. Second-team all-PBAC selection guard Geoff Brower leads the Senators along with fellow senior guard David Loboja. Lander has also recruited some height in Virginia Commonwealth transfer Simon Moore (6-foot-7, 240-pound forward) and Australian Joel Hedge (6-9, 225-pound center).
Last year's PBAC co-champion and tournament champion Georgia College and State will also contend for the title. The Bobcats return all five starters, including first-team all-PBAC performer forward Julius Joseph.
Armstrong Atlantic State is also strong, returning eight players from last year's 17-11 team. Sophomore guard Robert Campbell, who was fourth in the nation in steals, along with Florida State transfer Ronald Thompson (junior power forward) will have a large impact.
Columbus State return its top three leading scorers in Maulvi Lewis (15.1 ppg), Shawn Strong (14.1) and David Jackson (14.1). But the Cougars still lack a go-to guy inside.
Francis Marion will have to find chemistry with nine newcomers, and two returners who were injured most of last season. The Patriots have 16 road contests this season.
Kennesaw State will be led by junior guard C.T. Josey, who was the team's second-leading scorer (10.4 ppg) and was sixth in the PBAC in three-point percentage (.404).
North Florida has a new coach in Matt Kilcullen. All-PBAC guard Antoine Stokes, who averaged 19.4 ppg last season, returns with an experienced group of Ospreys.
Clayton State will have to replace Robert Conley, who led the PBAC in scoring last year. Division I transfer guard Marty Fears averaged 23 ppg for Tennessee Tech last year and heads a group of four transfers.
USC Spartanburg brought in six transfers. Junior center Thaddeus Jackson was one of the few bright spots for the Rifles last season, averaging 10 points and five rebounds a game while shooting 56 percent from the floor.
UNC Pembroke senior forwards Theotis Gibson (15.6 ppg) and Mike Lowry (10.6) will look to turn around the Braves' fortunes.
|Peach Belt men's preseason poll|
1. Lander (7) 117
2. Ga. College & State (2) 105
3. Augusta State (2) 97
4. Armstrong Atlantic St. (1) 88
5. Columbus State 87
6. Francis Marion 52
7. USC Aiken 51
8. Kennesaw State 48
9. North Florida 46
10. Clayton State 44
11. USC Spartanburg 35
12. UNC Pembroke 22