CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Coastal Carolina was picked to unseat defending champion Winthrop in the Big South on Tuesday and High Point junior guard Nick Barbour was voted the conference’s preseason player of the year.
The Cliff Ellis-coached Chanticleers, who return six players from last season’s team that won the league’s regular-season title, received 10 of 24 first-place votes by the league’s coaches and a media panel. It marks the first time since 1993-94 that Coastal Carolina is the preseason No. 1.
The Chanticleers last made the NCAA tournament in 1993.
“It’s an honor to be the preseason pick to win the Big South, but nothing is determined until we start playing games,” Ellis said. “Last season we were picked eighth and we ended up winning the league, and I really feel like there is not one game in this league where one team won’t have a good chance to beat the other.”
Winthrop, which won on Coastal Carolina’s home floor in the tournament championship game last season, was picked to finish second. The Eagles have won the Big South title and reached the NCAA tournament five of the past six years and nine times since 1999.
UNC Asheville was picked third at media day, followed by Presbyterian, High Point, Liberty, Charleston Southern, VMI, Radford and Gardner-Webb.
Presbyterian is eligible for the regular-season crown but won’t compete in the Big South tournament as it transitions to Division I.
Barbour averaged 18.9 points last season for the Panthers and shot a Big South-best 40.1 percent from 3-point range. He’s joined on the all-conference team by Chad Gray of Coastal Carolina, Al’Lonzo Coleman of Presbyterian, Jamarco Warren of Charleston Southern and Austin Kenon of VMI.
Defending women’s champion Liberty was picked to win that title again. High Point was picked second.
Liberty sophomore Devon Brown is the women’s preseason player of the year.
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