Big South Men’s Basketball Preview

Coastal Carolina F Kierre Grenwood

By Jon Manson

Special Contributor

College Sports Journal


LYNCHBURG, VA. — A fiercely competitive Big South men's basketball season seems to be in store this year.  Our predicted order of finish in each division is listed at the end of each divisional






Campbell G Darren White

Last Season: 17-15 (11-7)
Coach: Robbie Laing, 10th season
Top Returners:
G Darren White (16.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
G Trey Freeman (13.9 ppg, 3.8 apg)
Biggest Loss:
F Eric Griffin (15.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg)

Campbell begins their 2nd season in the Big South, where they look to improve upon their 3rd place finish a year ago. Point guard Trey Freeman, last year's Big South Freshman of the Year, looks to become the team's leader this  year. Darren White, last year's leading scorer, returns as well. Both White and Freeman were 1st team preseason all conference selections. Kent State transfer Darius Leonard will look to replace some of Eric Griffin's production in the paint. Iowa State transfer Antwon Oliver and VCU transfer Reco McCarter will provide length and athletic ability on the wing.


HPU Forward John Brown

Last Season: 13-18 (8-10)
Coach: Scott Cherry, 5th season
Top Returners:
F Corey Law (9.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg)
F Branimir Mikulic (5.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
Biggest Loss:
G Nick Barbour (20.4 ppg, 48.4 3FG%)
G Shay Shine (15.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg)

Scott Cherry and his High Point Panthers must replace 36 points per game of offense with the loss of Nick Barbour and Shay Shine. Redshirt Freshman John Brown, one of the highest rated recruits ever in the Big South, will be tasked as one of the team's go to players. Former Virginia tech and Florida player, Allan Chaney, will resume his career at High Point. Chaney has sat out the last two seasons for health reasons after collapsing during a workout in Blacksburg in April 2010. Chaney was diagnosed with viral myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, and has since had a defibrillator installed in his chest.  


LU Forward Antwan Burrus

Last Season: 14-18 (9-9)
Coach: Dale Layer, 4th season
Top Returners:
G Tavares Speaks (10.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
F Antwan Burrus (11.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
Biggest Loss:
G Jesse Sanders (12.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 8.0 apg)

Liberty will have to learn to cope in life after Jesse Sanders. Forward Antwan Burrus will shoulder much of the leadership burden, and he will be asked to pick up a few of the 8 rebounds per game Jesse was grabbing. Dale Layer brought in 4 JUCO players who he will look to immediately contribute. Davon Marshall and JR Coronado are 2 JUCO transfers expected to start.


Longwood Head Coach Mike Gillian

Last Season: 10-21 (DI Independent)
Coach:  Mike Gillian, 10th season
Top Returner:
G Tristan Carey (13.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
Biggest Loss:
C Antwan Carter (19.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg)

Longwood finally garnered their long awaited Division I conference affiliation, and will look to make noise in their first  year in the Big South. Coach Mike Gillian and company will have to do so without last season's leading scorer Antwan Carter. Tristan Carey, transfer from La Salle, is the lone returning starter. Gillian calls him "one of the best players in this league." Gillian admitted he voted Carey as preseason player of the  year.


Radford Forward Javonte Green

Last Season: 6-26 (2-16)
Coach: Mike Jones, 2nd season
Top Returners:
G R.J. Price (11.2 ppg, 118 assists)
F Javonte Green (10.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg)

Biggest Loss:
G Jareal Smith (9.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
F Johnathan Edwards (8.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg)

Radford has won 11 games in the past 2 seasons combined, and finished 2-16 in conference play each of the past 2 seasons. Head Coach Mikes Jones will look to improve upon his first season last year, and begin to move Radford up the conference standings. Of the 14 players on their roster, 12 are either freshman or sophomore. Javonte Green will look to improve upon his stellar freshman campaign as the freshman from Brunswick County High School scored 10.2 points and grabbed 6.7 rebounds per game. A lot is expected out of freshman guard Yaya Anderson out of Fluvanna County High School.


VMI Forward Stan Okoye

Last Season: 17-16 (8-10)
Coach: Duggar Baucom, 8th season
Top Returners:
G Rodney Glasgow (6.2 ppg, 2.8 apg)
F Stan Okoye (17.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg)
Biggest Loss:
G/F Keith Gabriel (17.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg)

The Big South Conference Preseason Player of the Year is VMI's Stan Okoye. Okoye averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds a year ago. Center D.J. Covington enters the season healthy after missing most of last season. Freshman Tim Marshall from Virginia Beach should improve VMI's 3-point shooting immediately, and Coach Baucom hopes this will help VMI regain the #1 spot in scoring offense in the country that VMI relinquished a season ago.

Our predicted order of finish:
1. Campbell
2. Liberty
3. VMI
4. Radford
5. High Point
6. Longwood



CSU Guard Saah Nimley

Last Season: 19-12 (11-7 Big South)
Coach:  Barclay Radebaugh, 8th season
Top Returners:
G Arlon Harper (12.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
G Saah Nimley (13.5 ppg, 120 assists)
Biggest Loss:
F Kelvin Martin (15.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg)

Charleston Southern will be looking to improve their conference record for the fourth consecutive season during the 2012-13 basket ball campaign. Behind the talented sophomore guard duo from Georgia, Arlon Harper and Saah Nimley, the Buccaneers will challenge for the top spot in the South. Saah Nimley was selected 1st team preseason all conference, while Harper was selected 2nd team. The biggest question mark will be how does CSU replace last year's leading scorer and rebounder Kelvin Martin.


Coastal Guard Anthony Raffa

Last Season: 19-12 (12-6)
Coach: Cliff Ellis,  6th season
Top Returners:
G Anthony Raffa (16.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
G Kierre Greenwood (11.1 ppg, 141 assists)
Biggest Loss:
F Sam McLaurin (10.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg)
F Chris Gradnigo (14.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg)
G Danny Nieman – dismissed after 3rd arrest in 3 years

Coastal will look to christen their brand new arena, the HTC Center, with a Big South Championship this season. Under head coach Cliff Ellis, Coastal has finished 1st or 2nd in the conference standings the past 3 seasons, but has yet to crack through and win the conference tournament. Guards Anthony Raffa and Kierre Greenwood were selected to the 1st and 2nd team preseason all conference, respectively.


GWU Forward Tashan Newsome

Last Season: 12-20 (6-12)
Coach: Chris Holtmann, 3rd season
Top Returners:
F Tashan Newsome (12.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
G Max Landis (9.5 ppg, 45 assists)
Biggest Loss:
F Stefon Johnson (7.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg)

Gardner-Webb will look to improve upon their 6-12 conference mark they have had in each of Chris Holtmann's first 2 seasons as head coach. 2nd team preseason all conference selection Tashan Newsome will look to lead this team alongside sophomore point guard Max Landis.  Freshman shooting guard Isaiah Ivey should see plenty of time as well.


Presby Guard Khalid Mutakabbir

Last Season: 14-15 (8-10)
Coach: Gregg Nibert, 24th season
Top Returner:
G Khalid Mutakabbir (13.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
Biggest Loss:
C Al’Lonzo Coleman (16.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg)

Presbyterian is entering their first season eligible for the Big South tournament championship and NCAA tournament after a five-year transition from Division II. Jordan Downing, a 6'5" transfer from Davidson, looks to make an immediate impact. Downing shot 34% from 3 as a reserve in his one season at Davidson. ESPN broadcaster Mark Jones' son, Shea Jones, is a highly touted freshman. Khalid Mutakabbir is a 2nd team preseason all conference selection.


UNCA F Jeremy Atkinson

Last Season: 24-10 (16-2)
Coach:  Eddie Biedenbach, 17th season
Top Returners:
F Jeremy Atkinson (11.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
Biggest Loss:
G Matt Dickey (16.1 ppg, 124 assists)
G J.P. Primm (15.4 ppg, 142 assists)
F Chris Stephenson (16.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg)

Who is this UNCA team? That's the big question around the 2012-13 Bulldogs as they seek to replace Matt Dickey, J.P. Primm, and Chris Stephenson. UNCA is coming off 2 consecutive Big South tournament championships and NCAA tournament berths. Center D.J. Cunningham and 2nd team preseason all conference selection Jeremy Atkinson will be the anchors to this year's team. UNCA has 10 freshmen and sophomores on their roster.


Winthrop Head Coach Pat Kelsey

Last Season: 12-20 (8-10)
Coach:  Pat Kelsey, 1st season
Top Returners:
F James Bourne (2.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
Biggest Loss:
G Andre Jones (16.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
G Reggie Middleton (12.8 ppg, 136 assists)

Winthrop not only loses their coach, Randy Peele, but also their top 4 scorers from a season ago. This looks like a true rebuilding job for new head coach Pat Kelsey, a Skip Prosser disciple. Kelsey took the 2011-12 season off citing personal reasons; he was quoted as saying "Four years ago I witnessed first-hand Coach Prosser's death in the basketball office at Wake Forest. That day my perspective on the profession and life was forever altered. My role as a father and husband is everything to me and the rigors of this business can make that challenging. My family and my health come first." Kelsey has brought in 4 JUCO players to help get the rebuild jump-started. A couple names still on the roster you may remember: Gideon Gamble, Joab Jerome, and James Bourne.

Our predicted order of finish:
1. Coastal Carolina
2. Charleston Southern
3. UNC Asheville
4. Presbyterian
5. Gardner-Webb
6. Winthrop