Coastal favored to defend Big South championship

ccuhoops-22dunkAfter winning the 2014 VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Basketball Championship and turning in a 21-win season, Coastal Carolina men’s basketball has been selected as the preseason favorite to repeat as conference champions by the league’s head coaches and media members, according to an announcement on Monday at the annual Big South Basketball media day in Charlotte, N.C.

In addition, Warren Gillis was named to the conference’s preseason first team, while Elijah Wilson was named to the second team.

The Chanticleers garnered 297 total points and 14 of 29 first-place votes to edge out 2013-14 regular season champion High Point (293 total points and 12 first-place votes) as the league favorite by four points. Radford received one first-place vote and 233 total points to finish third in the poll followed by Winthrop (221 total points) and Charleston Southern (199 total points and on first-place vote). UNC Asheville also picked up a first-place vote and 191 total points to finish sixth. Gardner-Webb (168), Campbell (113), Liberty (85), Presbyterian College (67) and Longwood (47) rounded out the poll.

High Point forward John Brown, the reigning Big South Player of the Year, was tabbed as the Preseason Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Joining Brown on the Preseason All-Big South first team were Coastal’s Gillis, Javonte Green of Radford, Andrew Rousey of UNC Asheville and Charleston Southern’s Saah Nimley. On the second team were Coastal’s Wilson, Jordan Downing of Presbyterian College, Jerome Hill of Gardner-Webb, Winthrop’s Keon Moore and Charleston Southern’s Arlon Harper.

Gillis, one of two Chanticleer seniors on the 2014-15 roster, was named second team All-Big South and the Big South Tournament MVP a year ago. He is coming off a career-best season that featured 14.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Moreover, the Philadelphia native closed the season on a 21-game double-digit scoring streak.

Wilson, who was named to the All-Freshman team and honorable mention All-Big South last year, is coming off the finest freshman campaign in Coastal history. The Wilmington, N.C., product scored a CCU freshman record 537 points on 200 made field goals for a team-leading 15.8 points per outing. His point production also ranked him as the 12th-highest freshman scorer in the NCAA.

The Cliff Ellis coached Chanticleers return four starters from last season’s team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993. Joining Gillis and Wilson in the starting lineup for another season is senior Josh Cameron (13.8 ppg in 2013-14) and Badou Diagne (8.0 ppg/6.0 rpg in 2013-14). Coastal also returns six additional letter winners from last season’s team – each of whom saw action in at least 13 contests.

Overall, Coastal returns 90.88 percent (2,234-of-2,458) of its point production and 81.66 percent (1,091-of-1,336) of its rebounds from last year.

Fans can get their first look at the 2014-15 Chanticleers Friday, Nov. 14, as the team plays Trinity Baptist in the season opener. Tipoff inside The HTC Center is set for 7:30 p.m. The Chants will play their first conference game Dec. 31 at High Point. Coastal hosts the 2015 VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Basketball Championship at The HTC Center from March 4-8.

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