Summer School in the SoConPosted by Brian Goodman on July 30th, 2010
Justin Glover is the RTC correspondent for the Southern Conference.
Around The SoCon
- Former Citadel coach Ed Conroy moves on to coach Tulane University. The Bulldogs hired former Maryland assistant coach Chuck Driesell, who was with the Terps for four seasons under head coach Gary Williams.
- The Mountaineers hired former UNC star forward Jason Capel, who becomes the youngest head coach in Division I at 30 years old, to replace Buzz Peterson, who departs for UNC-Wilmington.
- The Georgia Southern Eagles made a splash in its recruiting class coming in, ranking sixth among mid-major programs, according to ESPN.com.
- Asheville, North Carolina, has been awarded the league’s men’s and women’s basketball tournament for 2012-14, to be held in the Asheville Civic Center, just a stone’s throw away from the Western Carolina campus. The facility will undergo a considerable renovation to prepare for the event.
The Southern Conference will likely be a one-bid league in 2010-11, but the recent NCAA tournament expansion will certainly add motivation for teams on the rise to perform. With the return of forward Noah Dahlman (16.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG last season), Wofford is the early favorite to repeat as SoCon champs next season.
- Western Carolina – The Catamounts lost some very good talent from a team that won 22 games in 2009-10, including an impressive 14-2 home record. WCU lost its top two scorers in Brandon Giles and Jake Robinson, but return former freshman of the year Harouna Mutombo. Also, the Catamounts bring back spark plug Mike Williams, who contributed 9.4 points off the bench last season. Starting center Richie Gordon returns after posting 8.5 ppg and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. WCU welcomes four newcomers, including 6’4 guard Brandon Boggs, from Greenville, South Carolina. Boggs averaged 16 PPG in his senior season, earning him a spot on the South Carolina all-star team. Boggs scored a game-high 24 points in the contest.
- Appalachian State – The Mountaineers lost Buzz Peterson to UNC-Wilmington and welcome a new era with Jason Capel, who becomes the nation’s youngest head coach heading into the 2010-11 season. ASU won an impressive 24 games en route to the North Division crown last season. To repeat as champs, they are going to need Donald Sims to perform at a level similar to last season, when he averaged 20.4 points per game and was a sure thing from the stripe, with a league-leading 95 percent. Also returning is Isaac Butts, who led the team in rebounding, grabbing 8.1 rebounds per game last season. Two newcomers for the Mountaineers are Anthony Breeze, who transferred from Coastal Carolina last season, and Omar Carter, who transferred from Charleston Southern.
- Chattanooga – The Mocs have three starters returning from a team that went 15-18 last season. Chattanooga went 6-12 in conference play, tying UNC-Greensboro for third in the north division. Rising junior guard Ricky Taylor returns after putting up 11.4 points per game in 2009-2010. Keegan Bell, who averaged 7.6 points per game last season, is another starter from a year ago. Together, Taylor and Bell will look to provide the Mocs with a 1-2 punch in the backcourt. Three newcomers round out the roster, including some size in the frontcourt in Philip Jurick, who stands 6’11 and played at Chattanooga State Community College last season.
- Samford – The Bulldogs head into 2010-11 returning three starters from last year’s team, including leading scorer Josh Davis, who averaged 12.5 points per game and netted a team-high 85 three pointers. Also returning is starting center Andy King, who posted 6.6 points per game last season. The Bulldogs struggled on the road last season, going 4-10 away from Birmingham, and the team hopes that more veteran leadership will change their fate this season. Three newcomers will join the squad, including two in the frontcourt in Levi Barnes (6’10) and Drew Windler (6’9). Guard Greg Wooten rounds out the recruiting class for Samford.
- UNC-Greensboro – The Spartans return rising sophomore Kyle Randall, who was second on the team in points per game with 9.5. Also returning is fellow guard Brandon Evans, who averaged 8.5 points per game last season. The Spartans had a tough non-conference slate containing six ACC opponents, which contributed to a 2-11 record before conference play started. While overmatched in most of those contests, they hung around with Virginia Tech until late in the game Six of those losses came at home. Three newcomers join the team this season in Aaron Brackett, David Williams, and Aloysius Henry, who hopes to contribute right away.
- Elon – The Phoenix return their leading scorer in Drew Spradlin, who averaged 13.3 points per game last season as a sophomore. Also returning is starting guard Chris Long, who posted 9.9 points per game in his junior season. Sixth man Terrance Birdette returns as well, after scoring 6.8 points per game and seeing court time in all 32 games last season. There are five newcomers who join the Phoenix hoops squad in 2010. Incoming freshmen include Ryley Beaumont, Jack Isenbarger, Sebastian Koch, Lucas Troutman. Sophomore transfer Egheosa Edomwonyi from Rice will be a part of Elon’s quest for a Southern Conference championship. Isenbarger was a McDonalds All-American nominee and could be the prize in the recruiting class.
- Wofford – The defending SoCon Tournament champions are poised to repeat, returning three starters from last season including conference POY Noah Dahlman. Dahlman carried the team, averaging 16.6 points per game and pulling down 6.3 rebounds per game. Also returning is frontcourt teammate Tim Johnson, who posted 7.9 rebounds per game and scored 6.1 points per contest from the center position. Jamar Diggs rounds out the returnees scoring 9.5 points per game during his junior season. Wofford posted a league-best 26 victories and was very successful at Benjamin Johnson Arena, sporting an 11-1 home record in 2009-10. The Terriers have three incoming freshmen in Cameron McQueen, Aerris Smith, and Josh Corry. McQueen, a 6’8 center from Charlotte, N.C., will look to provide depth in the frontcourt this season.
- College of Charleston – The Cougars go into the 2010-11 campaign with three returning starters, including all-conference performer Andrew Goudelock. Goudelock made headlines last season after an impressive performance against UNC, scoring 24 points, including the game-tying three pointer that sent the game into overtime. The Cougars won 82-79 en route to a 22-12 record and 12-1 home mark. Two other starters return in Jeremy Simmons and Donavan Monroe. Monroe started every game last season, scoring 12.3 points per game. The Cougars made the semifinals of the SoCon tournament but, lost to Appalachian State. College of the Charleston will try to make a similar run this season behind the leadership of its starting backcourt.
- Davidson – The Wildcats had a disappointing season with only 16 wins, but return its top scorer in Jake Cohen, who scored 13.3 points per game last season as a freshman. Cohen also carried the load on the glass, pulling down 5.1 rebounds per game. Another rising sophomore, JP Kuhlman, started 24 games as a freshman and scored 12.6 points per game. Sharpshooter Brendan McKillop, son of head coach Bob McKillop, returns for his senior season after leading the team with 80 three-point field goals. The Wildcats will need frontcourt help from Frank Ben-Eze, who will be a junior at the power forward position.
- Furman – The Paladins return two double-digit scorers in Amu Saaka (15.8) and Jordan Miller (13.9), who will provide the veteran backcourt play it needs in pursuit of a SoCon championship. Miller led the team in three-point field goals with 52, and Saaka grabbed 7.2 rebounds per game after transferring from South Florida. Four seniors will be the key to Furman’s success in 2010-11 as they will try to improve on a 13-17 finish last season. One newcomer for the Paladins is former Saint Joeseph’s forward Bryant Irwin, who will sit out the 2010-11 campaign, but will have two years of eligibility with Furman.
- Citadel – The Citadel went 16-16 last season, but lost its head coach Ed Conroy, who moved on to Tulane University. The Bulldogs went out and hired former Maryland assistant coach Chuck Driesell to take his place. Driesell has a talented cast, with the return of all-conference performer Cameron Wells, who averaged a team best 17.2 points per game in his junior season. Also returning is rising senior Zach Urbanus, who posted 10.6 points per game last season. The Bulldogs need to show more consistency this season after posting a 9-9 conference record in 2009-10.
- Georgia Southern – The Eagles will be a team on the rise this season, with the best incoming freshman class in the SoCon this season according to ESPN.com. Georgia Southern also returns fifth-year senior Willie Powers, who led the team with 14.7 points per game, and fellow guard Ben Drayton, who scored 9.4 points per game off the bench last season. The Eagles have five newcomers who hope to come in and compete right away this season. Tre Bussey and Jelani Hewitt are the two most talked-about recruits for the Eagles.
The Southern Conference has always been a competitive league, and a couple of the league’s top scorers are back hoping to propel their teams to the NCAA Tournament. The key will be how teams fare in the non-conference portion of their schedules compared to other mid-major programs around the country.