MYRTLE BEACH — Charleston Southern is the preseason favorite in the South Division of the Big South Conference in men’s basketball.
The Bucs, the defending South Division champions and runners-up in last year’s Big South tournament, received 28 of 30 first-place votes by coaches and members of the media Thursday at the league’s annual media day. High Point was picked to win the North Division.
CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh returns three starters and eight lettermen from last year’s 19-13 team that advanced to postseason play for only the second time in school history, losing to Southern Mississippi in the NIT.
“We came up one game short last year and that has been the motivating factor all summer and all through the preseason,” said Radebaugh. “We did not finish last year and our goal is to finish this year. We have had a productive summer and a really good preseason. With so many returning players, the preseason has gone smoothly. We’re excited to get started.”
The Bucs are led by a pair of preseason first-team all-conference selections in junior guards Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper. Nimley ranked fifth in the league in scoring last season at 15.9 points per game, and Harper was eighth at 15.3 points per game.
“Saah and Arlon are very deserving of the accolades they receive,” Radebaugh said. “They’ll be the first to tell you this is a team sport. They’ll be the first to tell you that the strength of our team is our depth. That being said, we also recognize that they’re very talented and very deserving of the recognition. They bring a great confidence and swagger to our team, and we are excited to see them continue to grow as upperclassmen.”
High Point sophomore forward John Brown was voted the Big South preseason player of the year, edging CSU’s Nimley by three votes.
Seven of the league’s 10-player first and second-team all-conference selections were from North Division teams.
The CSU women’s team was picked 10th in the 11-team women’s league. Coach Fred Applin begins his second season with four seniors back from last year’s 8-20 squad, led by guard Erin Bratcher.
“I am excited about the upcoming season,” Applin said. “We are very young with seven new players on the court and the Big South is a tough conference. We just have to take one game at a time and compete for 40 minutes.”