(Listed in predicted order of finish)
LAST SEASON: 21-12, 13-5 (1st North)
COACH: Matt Matheny, 59-68 in 5th season at Elon
PLAYERS TO WATCH: F Ryley Beaumont, 6-7, sr. (11.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg); G Jack Isenbarger, 6-2, sr. (13.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg); F Lucas Troutman, 6-10, sr. (15.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg); G Sebastian Koch, 6-8, sr. (9.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
NOTABLE: With five starters and 11 letter-winners back from last year’s 21-12 team, Elon is the consensus preseason pick over Davidson to win the SoCon title. This is the Phoenix’s final season in the SoCon before moving to the Colonial Athletic Association.
LAST SEASON: 26-8, 17-1 (1st South)
COACH: Bob McKillop, 452-279 in 25th season at Davidson
PLAYERS TO WATCH: F De’Mon Brooks, 6-7, sr. (13.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg); G Tom Droney, 6-6, sr. (4.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg); F Chris Czerapowicz, 6-7, sr. (9.1 ppg, 5 rpg); G Tyler Kalonoski, 6-4, jr. (7.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
NOTABLE: The Wildcats celebrate McKillop’s 25th season with their last in the SoCon before heading to the Atlantic 10. Davidson lost three of its top five scorers in Jake Cohen, Nik Cochran and JP Kuhlman … Brooks is the preseason SoCon player of the year.
3. Western Carolina
LAST SEASON: 14-19, 9-9 (T-3rd North)
COACH: Larry Hunter, 107-137 in 8th season at WCU, 630-361 overall
PLAYERS TO WATCH: G Trey Sumler, 6-2, sr. (18.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg); F Tawaski King, 6-8, sr. (11 ppg, 6.3 rpg); G Brandon Boggs, 6-5, sr. (10.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg); G Tom Tankelewicz, 6-4, sr. (9.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
NOTABLE: The Catamounts also return an experienced squad, with five starters and 12 lettermen back. Trey Sumler, from Rocky Mount, N.C., is the top returning scorer in the SoCon at 18.4 ppg. G Tom Tankelewicz played at Charleston Southern before transferring to WCU.
LAST SEASON: 11-21, 9-9 (T-3rd North)
COACH: Bennie Seltzer, 11-21 in 2nd season at Samford
PLAYERS TO WATCH: F Tim Williams, 6-8, so. (14.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg); G Raijon Kelly, 6-4, jr. (14.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg); F Tyler Hood, 6-6, jr. (9.1 ppg, 3 rpg)
NOTABLE: The Bulldogs return a solid young core, but did lose all-freshman player Clyde Geffrard (11.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg), who transferred to Northwest Florida. Talk about an X factor: Newcomer Michael Bradley is a 6-10 junior who spent two years at UConn without playing (he redshirted, then had an ankle injury) before transferring to a junior college and then to Samford.
LAST SEASON: 13-19, 7-11 (T-3rd South)
COACH: Mike Young, 169-172 in 12th season at Wofford
PLAYERS TO WATCH: G Karl Cochran, 6-1, jr. (15.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg); G Spencer Collins, 6-4, so. (12.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg); F Lee Skinner, 6-6, jr. (10.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
NOTABLE: The Terriers had four players transfer out after last season, the most notable of whom was F Jarell Byrd (4.4 ppg), who left for West Alabama. Freshman Eric Wagenlander of Wando High School joins the Terriers this season.
6. Appalachian State
LAST SEASON: 15-16, 10-8 (2nd North)
COACH: Jason Capel, 44-49 in 4th season at App State
PLAYERS TO WATCH: G Jay Canty, 6-6, jr. (14.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg); G Mike Neal, 6-2, jr. (8.8 ppg, 3.6 apg); F Tevin Baskin, 6-6, sr. (9.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg); G Tab Hamilton, 6-3, jr. (9.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
NOTABLE: The Mountaineers make their final tour of the SoCon before heading to the Sun Belt next season. Chief loss from last year’s team was 6-7 F Nathan Healy (14.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg). Jacob Lawson, a 6-8 junior from Purdue, will sit out this season as a transfer.
LAST SEASON: 13-19, 8-10 (5th North)
COACH: Will Wade, first year at Chattanooga
PLAYERS TO WATCH: F Z. Mason, 6-5, sr. (14.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg); G Gee McGhee, 6-5, so. (12.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg); G Ronrico White. 6-3, jr. (10.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
NOTABLE: New coach Will Wade is 30, a Clemson graduate, former VCU assistant and third-youngest coach in Division I. He replaces John Shulman and brings his CHAOS brand to the Mocs. It’s an offshoot of Shaka Smart’s HAVOC defense at VCU. Former West Ashley HS standout Tre’ McLean, is sitting out this season after transferring from Queens College.
8. UNC Greensboro
LAST SEASON: 9-22, 6-12 (6th North)
COACH: Wes Miller, 33-42 in 4th season at UNCG
PLAYERS TO WATCH: F Kayel Locke, 6-5, so. (9.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg); F Nicholas Paulos, 6-7, jr. (8 ppg, 2.7 rpg); G Drew Parker, 6-1, sr. (3.3 ppg, 2.6 apg); F Kyle Cain, 6-7, jr. (7.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg at Arizona State in 2011-12)
NOTABLE: The Spartans lose 33 points a game with the departures of guards Trevis Simpson and Derrell Armstrong. F Kyle Cain, a 6-7 transfer from Arizona State, is eligible this season and led the Spartans during a four-game trip to Spain, averaging 13 ppg and 11.3 rpg. F Jordan Robertson, a transfer from The Citadel, is a redshirt sophomore at UNCG.
LAST SEASON: 7-24 (3-15, 6th South)
COACH: Niko Medved, first year at Furman
PLAYERS TO WATCH: G Stephen Croone, 6-0, so. (9.9 ppg, 4 apg); F Kendrec Ferrara, 6-9, so. (5.5 ppg); F Charlie Reddick, 6-5, sr. (9.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
NOTABLE: Niko Medved, a former Furman assistant, takes over as head coach for Jeff Jackson. Damien Leonard, a 6-4 junior from Greenville, will sit out this season after transferring from South Carolina.
10. Georgia Southern
LAST SEASON: 14-19, 7-11 (3rd South)
COACH: Mark Byington, first year at GSU
PLAYERS TO WATCH: G Jelani Hewitt,6-2, jr. (9.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg); G Tre’ Bussey, 6-2, sr. (7 ppg, 2.3 rpg); F Marvin Baynham, 6-6, sr. (4.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg)
NOTABLE: Byington, the former College of Charleston assistant, takes over for Charlton Young as the Eagles play their final season in the SoCon before heading to the Sun Belt. Senior F Eric Ferguson (13.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg) will sit out this season after offseason knee surgery, as will transfer F Trent Wiedeman from College of Charleston.
11. The Citadel
LAST SEASON: 8-22, 5-13 (5th South)
COACH: Chuck Driesell, 24-68 in 4th season at Citadel, 112-140 in 8th season overall
PLAYERS TO WATCH: F Matt Van Scyoc, 6-6, so. (11.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg); G Marshall Harris, 6-1, jr. (6.3 ppg, 5.2 apg); G Ashton Moore, 6-0, jr. (5.7 ppg, 1.5 apg)
NOTABLE: The Bulldogs suffered a blow when junior F P.J. Horgan (10.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) was forced to give up basketball due to a back injury. Junior F C.J. Bray is battling nerve damage in his shoulder. Look for freshman forwards Tom Koopman and Brian White to contribute early.
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