2017-18 Conference Carolinas Men's Basketball Preview and Players to Watch

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The 2017-18 Conference Carolinas Men's Basketball preseason poll has been released. Limestone College and Barton College enter the season as the co-favorites to win the Conference Carolinas Men's Basketball Championship, according to Conference Carolinas coaches.

T1. Limestone College: The Saints earned four first-place votes and tallied 75 points from Conference coaches to enter the season tied for first.

Limestone punched a ticket to the 2016-17 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship last season after going 27-6 overall and 17-3 in Conference Carolinas play. The Saints would beat UNC Pembroke in the first round before losing to eventual regional champion Lincoln Memorial in the second round.

In 2017-18, the Saints are looking to repeat as Conference Carolinas regular season and tournament champions. With all-tournament performer Donovan Harris and seasoned point guard Kenny Hairston returning, Limestone has a chance at another remarkable season.

Players to Watch:

  • Donovan Harris (Jr.) - Forward
  • Kenny Hairston (Jr.) - Guard
  • T.J. Sheppard (Jr.) - Guard

T1. Barton College: The Bulldogs enter the year identically tied with the Saints, receiving four first-place votes, three second-place votes and one third-place vote from Conference coaches for 75 points.

Barton finished last season 20-10 and third in Conference play with a 14-6 record. The Bulldogs return no all-conference performers, but will have the reigning Freshman of the Year in Michael Boykin and forward Isaiah Buck-Lowman to lead the charge. A traditional Conference Carolinas power, any year could be Barton's year.

Players to Watch:

  • Michael Boykin (So.) - Guard
  • Isaiah Buck-Lowman (So.) - Forward
  • Jeff Gordon (So.) - Guard/Forward

3. King University: The Tornado were tabbed third after receiving 65 points from Conference coaches. King went 19-12 last season with a 14-6 conference mark.

The Tornado made a run to the Conference Carolinas Men's Basketball Championship final last season before falling to Limestone. King is known for putting up a lot of threes, but will rely on a trio of forwards this season in: Dontae Campbell, Shon'Dre Dukes and Mack Owens.

Players to Watch:

  • Dontae Campbell (Sr.) - Forward
  • Shon'Dre Dukes (Sr.) - Forward
  • Mack Owens (Sr.) - Forward

4. University of Mount Olive: Mount Olive checks in with 62 points and captured the last first-place vote from Conference coaches.

The Trojans posted a 9-20 record and 8-12 league record in 2016-17. With only two all-conference players returning in Conference Carolinas as a whole, Mount Olive is fortunate to have one of them in guard Jamaal Matin. Partnered with guard Tayon Gleaves and forward Dominique Tham, Matin and company could easily return to Conference dominance in 2017-18.

Players to Watch:

  • Tayon Gleaves (Sr.) - Guard
  • *Jamaal Matin (Jr.) - Guard
  • Dominique Tham (Jr.) - Forward

5. Belmont Abbey College: The Crusaders garnered 52 points from coaches to enter the season ranked fifth.

Belmont Abbey posted an even 10-10 record in Conference play last season and went 14-15 overall. The Crusaders have the luxury of returning Deion Lane, an all-conference selection in 2016-17, who should play a big role in their success this season.

Players to Watch:

  • *Deion Lane (Sr.) - Forward
  • Jacob Wilson (Sr.) - Guard

6. Lees-McRae College: The Bobcats collected 45 points and are tabbed sixth to open 2017. Lees-McRae turned in an 8-21 overall mark in 2016 with a 7-13 league record.

The Bobcats will be led by junior Kamil Williams and senior duo Donte Falls and Jordan Turner. LMC's uptempo style of play should make them one of the most exciting teams to watch in Conference Carolinas.

Players to Watch:

  • Donte Falls (Sr.) - Forward
  • Jordan Turner (Sr.) - Guard
  • Kamil Williams (Jr.) - Guard

7. North Greenville University: The Crusaders are tabbed seventh to open 2017-18 after earning 36 points. NGU posted a 10-18 overall record and 4-16 Conference mark last season.

North Greenville will look to junior guard Daniel Burcehette, who was the 2015-16 Freshman of the Year, to lead the way in 2017-18.

Players to Watch:

  • Daniel Burchette (Jr.) - Guard
  • Daniko Jackson (Fr.) - Guard

8. Erskine College: The Flying Fleet are narrowly eighth entering the season with 34 points. Erskine finished last year with a 9-20 record while going 5-15 in league contests.

Erskine will have guards Zezmon Steeple and Jordan Watson manning the backcourt, while forward Austin Venable will command the frontcourt for the Fleet in 2017-18.

Players to Watch:

  • Zezmon Steeple (So.) - Guard
  • Jordan Watson (So.) - Guard
  • Austin Venable (Jr.) - Forward

9. Southern Wesleyan University: The Warriors collected 24 points from Conference coaches to enter the season ranked ninth. Southern Wesleyan went 3-25 overall in 2016-17, which included a 2-18 Conference record.

SWU returns a special talent in Justice McCullough, who was the only player in Conference Carolinas to average a double-double (11.9 ppg & 11.1 rpg). In 2016-17, he led the league in rebounding and posted double-digit rebounds in 15 games. McCullough also tallied 15+ rebounds in nine games, with his season-high being 21.

Players to Watch:

  • Javon Hunter (Jr.) - Guard
  • Justice McCullough (Jr.) - Forward
  • Jeremy Wert (Jr.) - Forward


*denotes 2016-17 All-Conference Carolinas selection

 

2017-18 Men's Basketball Preseason Poll

School (first-place votes) Total
T1. Limestone (4) 75
T1. Barton (4) 75
3. King 65
4. Mount Olive (1) 62
5. Belmont Abbey 52
6. Lees-McRae 45
7. North Greenville 36
8. Erskine 34
9. Southern Wesleyan 24

 


Conference Carolinas is a NCAA Division II athletics conference made up of 11 teams from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. These institutions consist of: Barton College, Belmont Abbey College, Converse College, Emmanuel College, Erskine College, King University, Lees-McRae College, Limestone College, University of Mount Olive, North Greenville University, and Southern Wesleyan University. Emmanuel College is currently completing the NCAA Membership Process and will be fully competing in league championships in the near future.