College of Charleston senior Grant Riller has been named the Colonial Athletic Association’s preseason basketball player of the year, and the Cougars have been picked to finish second in a preseason poll of league coaches, media relations directors and media members.
Riller, a 6-3 guard, is just the third player in the last two decades to be named a preseason conference player of the year, joining Andrew Goudelock (2010-11, SoCon) and Joe Chealey (2017-18, CAA).
Riller averaged 21.9 points and 4.1 assists last year in leading the Cougars to a 24-9 record. He scored 43 points against Hofstra in a 99-95 overtime loss to the Pride.
Riller needs 776 points this season to break the school's career scoring record held by Goudelock, who scored 2,571 points in his career from 2007-11. The sociology major enters the 2019-20 season with 1,796 career points, which ranks seventh in school history. Riller is also 177 points from entering the Top 15 in CAA history.
"Grant has had a really good summer and we're expecting him to have a great senior season," said College of Charleston coach Earl Grant. "Grant has taken on more of a leadership role this season."
Joining Riller on the preseason first team are Towson’s Brian Fobbs, William & Mary’s Nathan Knight, James Madison’s Matt Lewis and Hofstra’s Eli Pemberton.
Hofstra was picked to win the CAA title this year in one of the closest preseason votes in league history. Five teams – Hofstra, Charleston, Northeastern, James Madison and Delaware – earned first-place votes in the poll.
The Pride finished atop the poll with 331 points and 14 first-place votes. Charleston received 18 first-place votes and 323 points. Northeastern earned four first-place votes and 291 points.
Hofstra went 27-8 last season, earning the outright CAA regular-season title before advancing to the CAA championship game. The Pride will be led this season by Pemberton, who averaged 15.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as a junior.
Charleston returns two starters from last season’s squad that reached the semifinals of the CAA tournament. Besides Riller, the Cougars will rely heavily on shooting guard Brevin Galloway (7.9 ppg), the only other returning starter back from last season. Over the last three seasons, Charleston has won 75 games and will face a challenging non-conference slate that includes games against Oklahoma State, Wake Forest, Marshall and VCU.
"It seems like every year there are three or four teams in this league that have the potential to win it and this year is no different," Grant said.
The reigning CAA champion, Northeastern went 23-11 last season in collecting the program’s second CAA title. The Huskies return two starters returning from that squad in seniors Roland and Bolden Brace.