USC Aiken Chosen as Peach Belt Men’s Basketball Preseason Favorite

USC Aiken Chosen as Peach Belt Men’s Basketball Preseason Favorite

AUGUSTA, GA – The USC Aiken Pacers have been selected as the team to beat in 2013-14 as a poll of the Peach Belt Conference men's basketball coaches was released on Friday.  The Pacers received 11 of a possible 13 first-place votes to finish with 167 total points.  GRU Augusta and Montevallo were tied for second with 150 each while North Georgia was fourth and UNC Pembroke fifth.  Georgia Southwestern, Francis Marion, Columbus State, Lander, Young Harris, Armstrong, Flagler, Clayton State and Georgia College rounded out the voting.

USC Aiken made history last year, winning the NCAA Southeast Region tournament for the first time in school history and advancing to their first Elite Eight.  The Pacers won the PBC regular-season and tournament championships a year ago with a 15-4 PBC record, 25-8 overall.  For this season, USCA returns nearly their entire lineup featuring 10 seniors with four starters returning.  Forward Paul Larsen and guard Ronald Zimmerman were both named PBC All-Conference last year and preseason All-Conference this season.  In all, USCA returns seven of their top eight scorers from last year and have already been ranked #4 nationally in the Division II Bulletin preseason poll.

GRU Augusta finished fourth in the east division last season with a 14-13 overall record, 9-10 in conference play but return four of their five starters and eight letterwinners overall.  Senior guard Ryan Weems was named PBC All-Conference last season and led the team in scoring with 15.7 ppg.  The Jaguars also bring back junior guard D'Angelo Boyce and forwards Devon Wright-Nelson, the 2011-12 PBC Freshman of the Year, and Devonte Thomas, both of whom averaged over 11 points per game.

Montevallo reached the PBC Tournament championship game for the third time in the last four years in 2012-13.  The Falcons have finished atop the PBC west division for the last two years and return junior guard Troran Brown this season.  Brown was named first-team All-Conference last season and a preseason All-Conference pick by the PBC and preseason All-American by the Division II Bulletin.  He was third in the PBC with 18.7 ppg and fifth with 5.8 assists per game.

North Georgia had their best finish in the PBC standings since 2009-10 last year as they were third in the west with a 10-9 conference record, 16-12 overall.  The newly rebranded Nighthawks also reached the semifinals of the PBC Tournament for the second time as a part of the PBC.  For 2013-14, UNG returns five seniors and four of their five starters.  Ishmael Hollis was named second-team All-Conference a year ago after leading the team with 15.4 ppg and being ranked eighth in the PBC with 7.3 rebounds per game.  Senior guard Lamar Richardson was third on the team in scoring with 13.5 ppg a year ago while Chris Tanzy was fifth in the PBC in assists.

UNC Pembroke set an NCAA-era record with 22 wins in 2012-13.  The Braves finished second in the east division, setting a school record for PBC wins with 14 and returning to the PBC Tournament for the second time in three years.  2012-13 PBC co-Coach of the Year Ben Miller returns starters Quamain Rose and Brandon Winford from that team.  Rose was named the PBC Freshman of the Year last season after averaging 12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.  Forward Brandon Winford started 26 games last year as a freshman and was second on the team in rebounding and fourth in scoring.

The 2013-14 season begins on Friday, Nov. 8 with conference games beginning in mid-December.  The season continues through the 2014 PBC Championship which will be held March 6-9 at the Frank G. Lumpkin Center at Columbus State University.

The 2013-14 preseason coaches poll is below. Teams were given 13 points for a first-place vote, 12 for a second and so on.  Coaches were not permitted to rank their own team.

















1. USC Aiken
11 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 167
t2. GRU Augusta 2 5  0 0 0 0 150 
t2. Montevallo 1 150 
4. North Georgia 0 134 
5. UNC Pembroke 119 
6. Georgia Southwestern 92 
7. Columbus State 80 
8. Lander 77 
9. Francis Marion 0 0 0 0 0 4 3 0 2 1 2 1 0 75
10. Young Harris 63 
11. Armstrong 50 
12. Flagler 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 2 1 3 3 46
13. Georgia College 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 4 0 3 4 40
14. Clayton State 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 4 2 4 38