Davidson relies heavily on the 3-point shot to win basketball games in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
But Atlantic 10 coaches are also aware that coach Bob McKillop and the Wildcats also have some tall offensive weapons under the basket this upcoming season.
Davidson, entering its third season in the conference, was picked to finish fourth in the A-10 Tuesday in a vote of coaches and media during media day at PPG Paints Arena, site of the conference tournament in March.
The Wildcats’ record is 24-12 in the A-10 after moving from the Southern Conference.
“I really don’t spend much energy thinking about where we were picked and why we were picked,” said McKillop, who enters his 28th season at Davidson. “I think the transition has been (due) to a coaching staff that has welcomed the opportunity and always aspired to a higher level.
“We have a group of players that has a work ethic that pushes them that perhaps didn’t show up on the recruiting trail.”
Jack Gibbs, a senior guard for Davidson, was a preseason all-conference first-team pick. He averaged 23.5 points last season and averaged 2.6 3-pointers per game.
“His instincts are incredible on the floor,” Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg said of Gibbs, who scored 43 points last season against his team.
Davidson junior forward Peyton Aldridge was a preseason all-conference third-team pick. He averaged 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds last season.
The Wildcats will also have Will Magarity, a 6-foot-11 forward from Sweden who is eligible after transferring from Boston College.
“The addition of Will is rather significant,” McKillop said. “He jumps very well, he runs very well and he is athletic. He played two years in the ACC and he has two years for us. He can shoot the three, and he can put (the ball) on the floor.”
More height is provided by 6-10 Dusan Kovacevic, who is from Serbia, and KiShawn Pritchett, a 6-6 redshirt freshman who played at Lake Norman High.
“He is very gifted from the standpoint of offense,” McKillop said of Kovacevic. “He needs to understand there are two parts to the game, offense and defense. He rebounds very well and he is a good passer.
“KiShawn gives us size and strength from the guard position. He is about 85 percent back from surgery last year and we anticipate he will be ready for opening day.”
Davidson also has Nathan Ekwu, a 6-7 junior from Nigeria. McKillop has often had a global roster. This year’syear’s team includes players from Greece, Iceland and Finland.
“They will play pivotal roles for us,” McKillop said of his international players.
The Wildcats, 20-13 overall and sixth in the conference last year at 10-8, must replace guard Brian Sullivan, who shot nearly 41 percent on 3-pointers and averaged 14.2 points.
But Davidson figures to contend.
“It is a testament to coach McKillop,” said Kellogg, who’s entering his ninth season at UMass. “I think everyone has respect for them on a national level.”
The Wildcats begin regular-season play Nov. 12 against visiting Appalachian State. The first conference game is at home Dec. 31 against Richmond.
▪ The A-10 tournament will move to Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena in 2017 after Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted it the past four years. The Verizon Center in Washington will host it in 2018.
▪ Dayton was picked to win the conference this year, followed by Rhode Island and VCU. Dayton coach Archie Miller grew up in Pittsburgh and was a guard at N.C. State. Dayton received 16 first-place votes and Rhode Island had 12. No other school received a first-place vote.
▪ The preseason all-conference first-team features Gibbs of Davidson; Charles Cooke of Dayton; Tyler Cavanaugh of George Washington; T.J. Cline of Richmond; and Jaylen Adams of St. Bonaventure.
▪ Davidson was picked to finish fourth in the 14-team league by The Sporting News and NBC Sports and fifth by USA Today. ...Gibbs is NBC Sports’ preseason conference player of the year.
A-10 preseason poll
Atlantic 10 Conference men’s preseason basketball predicted order of finish, with first-place votes and total points:
1. Dayton (16)
2. Rhode Island (12)
3. Va. Ciommonwealth
5. St. Bonaventure
7. La Salle
8. George Washington
9. St. Joseph’s
12. George Mason
14. Saint Louis