Men's Basketball Picked to Finish Fifth in South Atlantic Conference

Jones and Hash Named to Preseason All-SAC Teams

ROCK HILL, S.C. – Following last season’s third consecutive trip to the NCAA and an appearance in the Southeast Region title contest for the second straight year, the Anderson men’s basketball team has been picked to finish fifth in the South Atlantic Conference by the league’s coaches, as released Wednesday by the league office.

The 2011-12 campaign saw Anderson (26-6) post the most regular-season league wins in SAC history and notch the highest league winning percentage (.944) in conference history en route to setting a new school record for wins in a season. The Trojans claimed the league’s regular-season crown with a stellar 17-1 record, as AU became just the second current member since Carson-Newman in 2001-02 to go through the league slate with just one loss.

“I say this each year because it is true - there is nothing more irrelevant in college sports than preseason rankings,” said Anderson head coach Jason Taylor, who was named Southeast Region Coach of the Year in 2012. “We must have a single-minded focus to get better each day and that’s all that matters.”

Senior Denzail Jones, the reigning SAC Player of the Year, was named to the Preseason All-SAC First Team. The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native was named the 2012 Conference Tournament Championship MVP after pouring in a SAC Championship-record 50 points in the double-overtime victory over Newberry in the tournament’s semifinals. He tallied a league-record 84 points in three SAC Tournament contests. Defensively, Jones was 20th in the nation in steals per game with 2.3 steals per contest and ranked fourth in the conference in scoring at 17.5 points per game. He led the SAC in steals, finished fifth in assists average, sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio and 13th in 3-point field goals made.

The quick 5-foot-9 guard has notched 924 career points in just two seasons and led the team in scoring on 13 occasions and assists in 19 games last season. He recorded 24 double-figure scoring performances, while equaling his career high eight rebounds at Tusculum and handed out a season-best eight assists in the NCAA Tournament win past Wingate. Jones was one of just two juniors named to either the DII Bulletin All-America First or Second Team following last season and was also named to the 2012 NCAA Southeast Regional All-Tournament Team All-Southeast Region Tournament Team.

Junior guard Chandler Hash, a 6-foot long-range sharpshooter, earned Preseason Second Team All-Conference accolades after ranking second in the South Atlantic Conference in 3-point field goal accuracy (.475).  Hash reached double-figures in the scoring column 12 times last season, while recording a five-game double-figure scoring streak in February. The native of Greer, S.C., saw action in 32 games while starting four a year ago and was fourth on a balanced offensive squad with eight points per game. He scored a season-high 17 points in the dramatic home overtime win past Lincoln Memorial in January, while equaling a season-best with four treys versus the Railsplitters.

Hash added 1.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game, while connecting on a team-high 91% (61-of-67) from the charity stripe.

“I am very happy for Denzail and Chandler receiving this early recognition from the South Atlantic Conference,” added Taylor. “Denzail proved that he is a special player last season with his competitive spirit. Chandler made a lot of big shots for us in a lot of big games. We need both of them to continue to improve and have a great year for us.”

Joining Jones on the preseason All-SAC First Team is a pair of Carson-Newman juniors in guard Ishmael Sanders and forward Antoine Davis.  Both were second-team All-SAC picks in 2011-12.

Sanders and Davis averaged an identical 16.8 points per game last season for Carson-Newman, which is the only team to place multiple players on the preseason All-SAC First Team.

2012-13 SAC favorite Wingate is represented on the Preseason All-Conference First Team by forward Odell Turner, who averaged 11.3 points and 7.2 rebounds last season for the SAC Tournament champion Bulldogs.

Lincoln Memorial forward Vincent Bailey is on the preseason All-SAC First Team as well after averaging 10.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season.  He was a member of last year’s All-SAC Second Team. 

Rounding out the preseason All-SAC First Team is Newberry forward Dondray Walker, the league’s Freshman of the Year and a second-team All-Conference selection in 2011-12.  Walker averaged 16.8 points per game last season.

The 2012-13 All-SAC Second Team is made up of Lenoir-Rhyne’s Allan Jones, Newberry’s Quayshun Hawkins, Anderson’s Chandler Hash, LMU’s Jake Troyli, Wingate’s Paidrick Matilus and Catawba’s Tyrece Little, a member of last season’s SAC All-Freshman Team.

The preseason All-Conference team was voted on by the league’s media relations directors.

2012 SAC Men’s Basketball Tournament champion Wingate has been picked by the league’s coaches as the preseason favorite to win the conference title.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 2011-12 season in which they went 21-12 overall and finished third in the regular-season SAC standings at 13-5. WU got hot late, winning the SAC Tournament championship and advanced to the regional semifinals of the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship. 

Wingate received five first-place votes in the poll.

Just behind Wingate in the preseason poll was Lincoln Memorial, which garnered two first-place votes. The Railsplitters went 26-6 overall last season, and their 14-4 SAC record was the league’s second-best.

LMU earned an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship, advancing to the regional semifinals before falling to eventual regional champion Montevallo. Among the team’s returnees is forward Vincent Bailey, who was a second-team All-SAC selection last season after averaging 10.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

Newberry is third in the preseason poll and received one first-place vote.  The Wolves rode a young team to a fourth-place finish in the SAC standings and a trip to the SAC Championship semifinals last season, going 16-12 overall.

Reigning SAC Freshman of the Year Dondray Walker is back for Newberry after averaging 16.4 points per game in 2011-12.

No. 4 in the preseason poll is Carson-Newman, which returns 2011-12 All-SAC Second Team picks Ishmael Sanders and Antoine Davis.  The Eagles are followed by defending SAC regular-season champion Anderson at No. 5.

Carson-Newman and Anderson each received one first-place vote in the poll.

Lenoir-Rhyne is No. 6 in the poll, followed by No. 7 Tusculum, No. 8 Catawba, No. 9 Brevard and No. 10 Mars Hill. 

AU opens the 2012-13 campaign with a five-game homestand, beginning with rival Erskine on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

The 2013 Food Lion SAC Basketball Championship will take place March 9-10 in Greenville, S.C.

SAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll
Team                      Points (1st-Place)
1. Wingate  77  (5)
2. Lincoln Memorial 73  (2)
3. Newberry  62  (1)
4. Carson-Newman 57  (1)
5. Anderson  54  (1)
6. Lenoir-Rhyne 43
7. Tusculum  30
8. Catawba  28
9. Brevard  14
10. Mars Hill  12

Preseason All-SAC First Team
Denzail Jones, Anderson*
Vincent Bailey, Lincoln Memorial^
Antoine Davis, Carson-Newman^
Ishmael Sanders, Carson-Newman^
Dondray Walker, Newberry^+
Odell Turner, Wingate

Preseason All-SAC Second Team
Allan Jones, Lenoir-Rhyne
Tyrece Little, Catawba+
Quayshun Hawkins, Newberry
Chandler Hash, Anderson
Jake Troyli, Lincoln Memorial
Paidrick Matilus, Wingate

*2011-12 All-SAC First Team
^ 2011-12 All-SAC Second Team
+ 2011-12 SAC All-Freshman Team

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