Webster University, coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance, are the near unanimous preseason favorites in the SLIAC Men's Basketball Preseason poll as voted on by the league's coaches. Webster garnered nine of ten first-place votes with Spalding University, the defending SLIAC regular season champions, receiving the remaining vote and picked second in the league. Westminster College was chosen third in the preseason poll.
Webster returns four starters from last year's team that captured the SLIAC Postseason Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Division III National Tournament going 20-8 overall and 15-3 in conference play last year. The Gorloks are coached by Chris Bunch and bring back the top inside-outside combination in the conference in Kevin Miller and Ahmad Smith. The duo earned First Team All-Conference honors last year with Smith finishing second in the conference in scoring at 16.4 points per game and Miller averaging 14.6 points and finishing second in rebounding in the league at 8.4 rebounds per game. The Gorloks also return sophomore Hunter Ward, who was named to the 2013-14 SLIAC All-Tournament team, and senior forward Aaron Griffin. Webster must replace point guard Hollis Edwards, a three time member of the SLIAC All-Defensive team. A trio of transfers in Tevin Evans, Kenan Haywood, and Mike Dunn figure to see time on the court.
Spalding, picked second in the poll with 69 total points, claimed their second consecutive regular season title last year after going 16-2 in the SLIAC and 19-8 overall. The Golden Eagles, coached by Kevin Gray, return just one starter but nine players from last year's team. They will rely heavily on Brandon Goeing who averaged 10.4 points per game last season and led the SLIAC in three-pointers with 49. Also back for Spalding are forwards Renaldo Moore, James Turner, and Terez Smith as well as guard Brandon Gabriel. Newcomers Jaylen Mason, James Abrams, and Jametrius Moore could see time in the rotation.
Westminster was chosen third in the preseason poll, finishing with 63 total points and are coming off a 14-12 overall record and an 11-7 record in conference action. The Blue Jays are coached by Matt Mitchell and bring back two starters and 10 players. Westminster will be led by guards Verdis Lee Jr. and Brandon Moore. Lee was named Second Team All-Conference in each of the past three years and averaged 14.7 points per game last year. Moore averaged 14.0 points per game and also earned Second Team All-Conference honors. The Blue Jays will look to newcomers Matt Murphy, Brandon Drum, and Tanner Cochran to add to the team depth.
MacMurray was picked fourth in the poll, receiving 53 total points. The Highlanders are coached by Todd Creal and bring back three starters from last year's team that went 19-7 overall and 15-3 in the SLIAC. After losing the 2013-14 SLAIC Player of the Year in Brady Slagle to graduation the Highlanders will turn to senior center Clayton Whitlock to take over the reins. Whitlock, a former SLIAC Newcomer of the Year and First Team All-Conference member, averaged 8.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season. Seniors Dylan Guthrie, James Williams, Hunter Sutton, and Kollin Keltner give the team experience. A trio of High School All-State performers in Alex Bott, Brock Snarski, and Tyshawn Willis add to the MacMurray depth.
Greenville finished with 52 points in the poll, placing fifth in the poll. The Panthers went 15-10 overall and 11-7 in the SLIAC last season. Head coach George Barber brings back nine players and four starters including senior forward Ron Harris. Harris was named Second Team All-Conference and to the All-Defensive team last year, averaging 13.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Juniors Tim Daniel, Brian Ehressman, and Jake DeWitt are back as is sophomore Nick Trisko. Newcomers Stevonte Young, Andrew Scott, and Elmo Smith should figure into the mix.
Fontbonne was chosen sixth with 44 total points after going 9-16 overall and 9-9 in the SLIAC. The Griffins welcome new head coach Anthony Hall and return four starters and nine players. Richard Dorhauer, an honorable mention All-Conference performer last year, averaged 10.3 points and 3.1 assists per game last season. A bevy of juniors in Jared Greenlee, Darius Rucker, and Blake Welch round out of the returners with Greg Gentry also coming back after a year off. Several newcomers should see time including Ben Kissing, Evan Johnson, Jack Lake, and Colin Schirmer.
Eureka was picked seventh after receiving 32 total points and will be coached by Chip Wilde, in his eighth year. The Red Devils went 5-20 overall and 4-14 in the SLIAC last season. Coach Wilde brings back three starters and 11 players from last year's team. Top Returners Seth Wickert and Sam James will be counted on once again. Wickert, a senior guard, averaged 11.2 points per game while James, a senior forward, averaged 10.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Newcomers Greg Kent and Ian Saathoff will see valuable time on the court.
Blackburn received 24 points after going 2-23 overall and 2-16 in the SLIAC. The Beavers bring back three starters and will be coached by Jason Baribeau. A young team last year, youth will again be the basis of the team this year. Junior forward Chris Davis led the team in scoring last season at 15.1 points per game. Sophomore guard Tommy Ulinski also returns after averaging 10.0 points per game and leading the team with 34 three-pointers. Jamie Moore is also back after averaging 10.9 points and leading the team in rebounding at 6.3 per game.
Iowa Wesleyan was chosen ninth with 21 points and will have first year head coach Alex Huisman at the helm. The Tigers went 6-19 last season, finishing with a 3-15 mark in the SLIAC. They return three starters and seven players from last year's squad. Back for the Tigers are junior Will Stephenson and sophomore Dion Lightner. Stephenson averaged 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while Lightner averaged 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Chris Fowler and sophomore forward Mitch Drey will add depth to the Tigers.
Principia finished 10th, receiving 11 total points and are coached by Mike Bushong. The Panthers went 7-18 overall, going 4-14 in the SLIAC, and return two starters. Junior guard Larry Patterson averaged 13.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game last season. Sophomore center Justin Ball gained valuable experience last season, playing in 22 games and starting seven. A trio of freshmen in Parker Davidson, Scott Ross, and Austin Sheldon will provide minutes for the Panthers.
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