College Basketball

Southern Conference basketball preview

Favorite

Chattanooga: New coach Matt McCall inherits four starters, five reserves from Mocs team that went 22-10, finished second in league standings.

Contenders

Wofford: Defending regular-season champion, two-time Southern Conference tournament champions. Terriers return three starters from last season’s 28-7 NCAA tournament team.

Mercer: Bears return two starters, eight reserves from last season’s team, which finished 19-16. Hickory Ridge grad Jaylen Stowe among newcomers.

East Tennessee State: Buccaneers, who finished 16-14 last season, return three starters and add 7-foot Indiana transfer Peter Jurkin and five other transfers.

Five to watch

G Casey Jones, Chattanooga: Conference’s preseason player of year, 6-5 senior averaged 14.2 points, 7.0 rebounds last season.

G Stephen Croone, Furman: League’s leading returning scorer at 17.3 points per game overall, 19.1 per game in conference play.

G Mike Brown, Western Carolina: West Charlotte High grad was eighth in SoCon in scoring last season at 13.8 points per game.

G Tevon Saddler, UNC Greensboro: Was among conference’s top 10 in scoring (13.6 per game), assists (4.1) and steals (1.5) last season.

G Darius Jones-Gibson, Samford: Averaged 12.2 points, 3.1 rebounds per game as a junior, among league’s top returning shooters (48.5 percent).

Worth mentioning

▪ Two conference teams made it to postseason during 2014-2015 season – Wofford, which played in the NCAA tournament, and Mercer in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).

▪ Western Carolina’s Larry Hunter is the dean of the league’s coaches. Entering his 36th season coaching and 11th with the Catamounts, Hunter is 664-393 all-time.

▪ Wofford’s Mike Young is the conference’s active career coaching victories leader with 217 over 13 seasons. Bob McKillop holds the league record, with 447 wins at former league member Davidson 1992-2014.

NEXT: Sun Belt

Bill Kiser

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