ROCK HILL, S.C. – After finishing seventh in the South Atlantic Conference standings last season, the Anderson University men's basketball team has been tabbed to finish seventh in the league this season in a vote by the league's coaches, as released by the conference office Tuesday afternoon.
The Trojans nearly doubled their win total last season from the 2015-16 campaign and made their first appearance in the South Atlantic Conference Tournament in three seasons before falling to No. 2 seed Queens in the quarterfinals.
The Trojans ranked in the top half of the conference in 3-point field goal accuracy and field goal shooting percentage last season and return four starters and nine upperclassmen from last year's squad that went 13-16 overall and 11-11 in the league.
Guard Randall Shaw, who captured Second-Team All-Southeast Region honors and was named First-Team All-South Atlantic Conference at the conclusion of last season, earned Preseason First-Team All-Conference accolades. He led the team and ranked second in the conference with 20.6 points per contest, while reaching the 20-point plateau in 15 games a season ago. The junior from Greenville, S.C., scored a career-high 45 points in a 97-82 road win over Brevard last season, marking the most since former AU standout Chandler Hash erupted for 44 points in the 2014 SAC Tournament.
Shaw shot 40.6% (67-of-165) from beyond the arc last season, while reaching double-digit scoring in 19 games and needs just 31 points to become the 13th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points.
Queens was picked to win the 2017-2018 South Atlantic Conference title after picking up eight top votes and receiving 98 points from the panel.
Queens finished the 2016-17 regular season as co-regular season champions and landed the No. 2 seed in the SAC Championship Tournament. The Royals defeated Lincoln Memorial for the second time on the season in the championship final for their first SAC Championship Tournament crown since joining the league in 2013. Queens advanced to the Southeast Region championship final, falling to Lincoln Memorial. Queens comes into the 2017-18 campaign ranked No. 2 in the nation by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Lincoln Memorial is No. 2 in the 2017-18 SAC Preseason Poll with 91 points and Carson-Newman is No. 3 with 80 points. The Railsplitters, who earned two top votes from the panel, ended the 2016-17 regular season atop the SAC standings with Queens and claimed the No. 1 seed in the SAC Championship Tournament. They landed an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Tournament and advanced to the regional finals and defeated Queens to advance to the Elite Eight in Sioux Falls, S.D. LMU picked up a victory over Chico State in the first round, while ultimately their season ended to eventual national champion and No. 1 seed Northwest Missouri State in the D-II Final Four. It marked the second straight year LMU advanced to the Final Four.
The Eagles, who earned one top vote from the panel, finished last season fourth in the standings and 19-11 overall with a 15-7 record in league action. Carson-Newman knocked off Newberry in the first round of the SAC Championship Tournament and finished in the semifinals.
At No. 4 in the poll was Catawba who picked up 67 points from the head coaches. The Indians went 18-11 overall and 12-10 in the South Atlantic Conference last season. Wingate followed as it received 62 points, landing in the No. 5 position. The Bulldogs closed out their 2016-17 season at 20-11 overall and 16-6 in the SAC.
Newberry earned the No. 6 position with 57 points. The Wolves were 18-11 overall and 13-9 in the SAC a season ago. Anderson came in at No. 7 with 48 points. The Trojans posted a 13-16 overall record as well as an 11-11 mark in the conference. Lenoir-Rhyne landed at No. 8 in the preseason poll as it collected 37 points from the panel. Last season, the Bears went 10-17 overall and 9-13 in the South Atlantic Conference.
Tusculum came in at No. 9 with 34 points, followed by Coker with 17 points. Mars Hill rounded out the poll as it notched 14 points.
The South Atlantic Conference also announced its preseason All-SAC teams with Charles Clark of Carson-Newman, Queens' Jalin Alexander and Dorian Pinson of Lincoln Memorial headlining the first team as each player earned 2017-18 Preseason All-America honors.
Clark, the 2016-17 SAC Men's Basketball Player of the Year, led the SAC with 658 points during the 2016-17 season. He connected on 45.5 percent from beyond the arc and finished the season with 21.9 points per outing. Alexander put in 13.3 points per game last season, while Pinson finished the 2016-17 season with 12.5 points per outing.
Anderson's Shaw, Todd Withers from Queens and Catawba's Jameel Taylor rounded out the list of Preseason All-SAC First Team Honorees. Withers averaged 13.6 ppg for the Royals and Taylor topped the Catawba roster with 17.6 points
Earning second-team honors were Queens's Mike Davis and Ike Agusi, Trevon Shaw and Emmanuel Terry of Lincoln Memorial, Jerrin Morrison of Catawba's and Newberry's Marshall Lange.
Anderson is slated to open the season at home Friday versus Southern Wesleyan, as the Trojans are hosting a Conference Challenge. Carson-Newman will lead off the two-day event by squaring off against Lander at 5:30 p.m. at the Abney Athletic Center, while the Trojans and Warriors will tip-off at 7:30 p.m.
Carson-Newman and SWU will begin the Saturday doubleheader at 1 p.m., with AU and Lander meeting a 3 p.m.
South Atlantic Conference
2017-18 Men's Preseason Poll (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Queens (8) 98
2. Lincoln Memorial (2) 91
3. Carson-Newman (1) 80
4. Catawba 67
5. Wingate 62
6. Newberry 57
7. Anderson 48
8. Lenoir-Rhyne 37
9. Tusculum 34
10. Coker 17
11. Mars Hill 14
2017-18 SAC Men's Preseason All-Conference Teams
Charles Clark, Carson-Newman
Randall Shaw, Anderson
Jalin Alexander, Queens
Jameel Taylor, Catawba
Todd Withers, Queens
Dorian Pinson, Lincoln Memorial
Mike Davis, Queens
Trevon Shaw, Lincoln Memorial
Jerrin Morrison, Catawba
Emmanuel Terry, Lincoln Memorial
Ike Agusi, Queens
Marshall Lange, Newberry