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Bucs picked to win Big South Conference’s South Division in 2012-2013

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CHARLESTON, SC -

For the first time in school history, Charleston Southern is the preseason men's basketball favorite in the Big South Conference, the conference office announced Tuesday afternoon at Big South Basketball Media Day.

The Buccaneers are picked to win the Big South's South Division after receiving 157 points and 29 first-place votes in the preseason poll. Coastal Carolina is picked second in the South Division and received 147 points and eight first-place votes. Defending Big South champion UNC Asheville (130 points) was selected third, followed by Winthrop (67 points), Gardner-Webb (58 points), and Presbyterian (50 points).

CSU returns four starters from a 19-12 squad in 2011-2012, led by a pair of All-Big South Preseason selections in sophomore guards Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper. Head Coach Barclay Radebaugh begins his eighth season as CSU head coach after being selected as the Big South Coach of the Year last season.

"We are honored to be picked first in the South Division in this year's preseason poll, Radebaugh said on Tuesday. "While we feel good about our team, we are very aware that this year's Big South Conference race is wide open. There are six or seven teams that could be picked as the preseason favorites. Also, there will be a team that is picked lower that will surprise us all with a great year. Last year we were picked eighth and finished third."

With a record 12 members, including newly added Longwood University, the Big South will have divisional play for the first time in Conference history. Campbell is the preseason in the North Division.

The Camels received 21-of-29 first-place votes and 166 out of a possible 174 points to capture its division. The Bucs play Campbell on Feb. 9 at the Buc Dome.

VMI finished second in North Division voting with 136 votes and five first-place votes. High Point was picked third, followed by Liberty (98 points), Radford (57 points), and Longwood (49 points).

Charleston Southern opens its 2012-2013 season on Nov. 9 against Charlotte. The Bucs follow with a trip to Tucson, Az. to face the University of Arizona on Nov. 11.

The season culminates with the 2013 VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Conference Basketball Championships the week of March 5-10 at The HTC Center on the Coastal Carolina University campus. The combined, one-site format features all 23 teams and 21 games in six days. Both championship games are on Sunday, March 10.

-CSU-

2012 Big South Men's Basketball Preseason Poll

RK

NORTH DIVISION (first-place votes)

1

2

3

4

5

6

Points

1.

Campbell (21)

21

8

--

--

--

--

166

2.

VMI (5)

5

14

6

4

--

--

136

3.

High Point (3)

3

4

9

5

6

2

103

4.

Liberty

--

2

13

8

6

--

98

5.

Radford

--

--

1

8

9

11

57

6.

Longwood

--

1

--

4

8

16

49

 

RK

SOUTH DIVISION (first-place votes)

1

2

3

4

5

6

Points

1.

Charleston Southern (16)

16

9

4

--

--

--

157

2.

Coastal Carolina (8)

8

15

6

--

--

--

147

3.

UNC Asheville (5)

5

5

18

1

--

--

130

4.

Winthrop

--

--

1

14

7

7

67

5.

Gardner-Webb

--

--

--

8

13

8

58

6.

Presbyterian College

--

--

--

6

9

14

50

Note: points are based on a weighted system.  First-place votes in each division received 6 points, followed by 5 points for second-place, and so on. 

Charleston Southern sophomore guards Saah Nimley andArlon Harper have been named to the 2012-2013 All-Big South Conference Men's Basketball Preseason Teams, league officials announced on Tuesday at Basketball Media Day.

Nimley was named to the first team, while Harper earned a second team spot. The duo combined to lead the Bucs to a 19-12 record last season and a third-place finish in the Big South as freshmen.

"We are pleased that Saah and Arlon have been chosen as members of the pre-season All-Big South team," CSU Head Coach Barclay Radebaugh said at Tuesday's Big South Media Day. "While both Saah and Arlon are very deserving of this recognition, they will be the first to tell you that the strength of our team is the quality of our depth and our desire and willingness to play as a team. Last year Kelvin Martin set a great example of a player being willing to sacrifice, play together and do the little things it takes to win. They fit into that same mold. Both of them are team-first guys, very unselfish and ready and willing to take on any role that will help our team be successful."

 

Nimley was named to the Big South All-Freshman team and was named College Insider Mid-Major Freshman All-American team after averaging 13.5 points and four assists per game last season. He was also named the Big South Freshman of the Week three times. He had a career high 24 points in CSU's win at VMI, 114-81, in early December. He also had a double-double with 23 points and 12 assists in the Bucs come-from-behind win over Stetson, 88-81, in late December.

 

Harper was also named to the Big South Conference All-Freshman Team a season ago. He started the Bucs final 26 games and was named Big South Freshman of the Week three  times after averaging 12.5 points and shooting 40.1 percent from behind-the-arch in first season with the Bucs. He poured in a career-high 28 points in a 93-88 win at UNC Asheville in January. He reached the 20-point plateau five times as a freshman.

 

The Bucs two sophomores were two of the three sophomores on the Preseason All-Big South teams, joining Campbell's Trey Freeman, who earned a first-team spot. The other seven selections are all seniors.

CSU and Coastal Carolina were the only two schools with multiple players on the two teams.

VMI senior Stan Okoye enjoyed his first All-Conference season last year as a Second-Team honoree after averaging 17.1 points that ranked third in the Big South.  He was the lone player in the Conference last season to average at least 17.0 points and 7.0 rebounds, as he was eighth in the League with 7.2 boards per game.  Okoye was fifth in the Big South in field goal percentage at 51.9 percent -- his third-straight year over the 50 percent threshold, and his 200 field goals made led the Conference.  He also had a career-high 47 steals last season.  Okoye had 12 20-point games in 2011-12 with six double-doubles, and averaged 19.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and shot 54.3 percent from the floor in Big South games.  He also landed a spot on the Big South All-Tournament Team after helping the Keydets reach the Championship game as the No. 7 seed.  Okoye enters the 2012-13 campaign as the Big South's active leading career scorer and rebounder with 1,480 points and 672 rebounds, respectively, and is on the cusp of becoming the eighth player in Big South history with 1,500 career points and 700 career boards.  Okoye received 14 first-place votes and 244 points in the balloting to earn a spot on the preseason All-Conference team.

White, who received seven first-place votes and 221 total points, was a Second-Team All-Conference honoree in 2011-12 after averaging 16.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 52.0 percent from the floor.  He was fifth in the Big South in scoring, fourth in field goal percentage and eighth in blocked shots with 1.06 per game.  White scored in double-figures 28 times last season, including 10 contests with at least 20.

Raffa was also a Second-Team All-Conference performer last season as well as a Second-Team NABC All-District selection.  He led Coastal Carolina with 16.7 points to rank sixth in the Big South, while his 1.84 steals per game was fourth-highest in the Conference.  Raffa also shot 48.0 percent from the field and 72.9 percent from the charity stripe a season ago.

Freeman was last year's Big South Freshman of the Year after he tallied 13.9 points per game, 3.83 assists and a League-leading 87.1 free throw percentage -- just the fourth freshman to lead the Conference in free throw shooting.  Freeman also was named to the Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Freshmen All-America Team.

 For the first time in Big South history, a preseason All-Conference Second-Team has been recognized.  The group features a member of the 2012 Big South All-Tournament Team (Atkinson), a 2012 All-Freshman Team member (Harper), a 2010 All-Freshman Team honoree (Greenwood), the League's leader in minutes played the past two seasons (Mutakabbir) and a player who made five game-winning baskets last season (Newsome).

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