AP NEWS

Southern Conference basketball preview: Chattanooga tabbed to repeat

November 7, 2016 GMT

(Listed in predicted order of finish)

1. Chattanooga

LAST SEASON: 29-6, 15-3 (1st)

COACH: Matt McCall (29-6 in one season)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: F Tre’ McLean, 6-5, sr. (12.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg); C Justin Tuoyo, 6-10, sr. (11.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg); G Casey Jones, 6-2, sr. (12.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg).

NOTABLE: McLean, from West Ashley High School, is the SoCon preseason player of the year ... Jones is back after missing all but eight games last year with an ankle injury.

2. East Tennessee State

LAST SEASON: 24-12, 14-4 (2nd)

COACH: Steve Forbes (24-12 in one season at ETSU, 190-72 in 7 seasons overall)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: G T.J. Cromer, 6-3, sr. (14.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg); F Hanner Mosquera-Perea, 6-9, sr. (redshirted last season); F Isaac Banks, 6-7, sr. (6.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg).

NOTABLE: The Bucs added a couple of key transfers in Mosquera-Perea from Indiana and 6-8 forward Tevin Glass from Wichita State ... Transfer guard Julian Walters was a JUCO All-American.

3. Wofford

LAST SEASON: 15-17, 11-7 (T-3)

COACH: Mike Young (232-209 in 13 years)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: G Eric Garcia, 6-0, sr. (10.3 ppg, 4.7 apg); G Fletcher Magee, 6-4, so. (13.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg); C Matthew Pegram, 6-11, so. (2.1 ppg, 1.3 rpg)

NOTABLE: The Terriers are rebuilding after losing all-SoCon performer Spencer Collins and key contributors Justin Gordon and C.J. Neumann ... 6-6 freshman Dishon Lowery could make an impact in the frontcourt.

4. Mercer

LAST SEASON: 19-15, 8-10 (7th)

COACH: Bob Hoffman (164-113 in 8 years at Mercer, 476-267 in 22 years overall)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: F Stephon Jelks, 6-6, jr. (11.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg); G Demetre Rivers, 6-8,. jr. (9.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg); F Desmond Ringer, 6-8, jr. (9.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg).

NOTABLE: Rivers, who shot 37.4 percent from 3-point range last year, is from Stratford High School ... 6-10 senior JJ N’Ganga transfers in from New Mexico.

5. Furman

LAST SEASON: 19-16, 11-7 (T-3)

COACH: Nikko Medved (39-59 in three seasons)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: G Devin Sibley, 6-2, jr. (12.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg; F Kris Acox, 6-6, jr. (8.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg); Matt Rafferty, 6-8, so. (8 ppg, 6.7 rpg).

NOTABLE: Ex-James Island standout Brady Shuck joins the Paladins as a sophomore transfer ... The Paladins lose all-SoCon G Stephen Croone (17.1 ppg).

6. UNC Greensboro

LAST SEASON: 15-19, 10-8 (T-5)

COACH: Wes Miller (60-92 in five seasons)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: C R.J. White, 6-8, sr. (12.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg); F Marvin Smith, 6-6, jr. (9.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg); G Diante Baldwin, 6-0, sr. (11.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg).

NOTABLE: Sophomore G Francis Alonso led his Spain team to the FIBA U-20 championship over the summer ... The Spartans have Virginia (Nov. 11) and Wake Forest (Dec. 9) coming to Greensboro Coliseum this season.

7. Samford

LAST SEASON: 14-19, 4-14 (T-8)

COACH: Scott Padgett (27-38 in two seasons)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: G Christen Cunningham, 6-2, jr. (14.4 ppg, 3.9 apg); C Wyatt Walker, 6-9, so. (10.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg); F Alex Peters, 6-8, jr. (2.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg).

NOTABLE: Samford is getting transfer help this year from 6-8 F Alex Thompson from Auburn, 6-6 F Demetrius Denzel-Dyson from UMass and 6-6 F Terry Brutus of Auburn.

8. Western Carolina

LAST SEASON: 16-18, 10-8 (T-5)

COACH: Larry Hunter (171-187 in 11 seasons at WCU, 680-411 in 36 seasons)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: G Devin Peterson, 6-1, jr. (5 ppg, 1.8 rpg); Haboubacar Mutombo, 6-5, jr. (4 ppg, 3 rpg); F Marc Gosselin, 6-7, so. (3.2 ppg, 4 rpg).

NOTABLE: Western Carolina must replace four senior starters ... Mutombo is the nephew of former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo and the younger brother of ex-WCU standout Harouna Mutombo.

9. The Citadel

LAST SEASON: 10-22, 3-15 (10th)

COACH: Duggar Baucom (10-22 in one year at The Citadel; 198-200 in 13 seasons)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: G Warren Sledge, 6-3, sr. (10.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg); F Zane Najdawi, 6-7, so. (7.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg); F Brian White, 6-8, sr. (9 ppg, 3.4 rpg).

NOTABLE: Baucom has brought in nine freshmen in his second season of “Embrace the Pace” ball at The Citadel ... Look for 5-9 freshman G Frankie Johnson and 6-6 freshman G Leandro Allende to make major impacts.

10. VMI

LAST SEASON: 9-21, 4-14 (T-8)

COACH: Dan Earl (9-21 in one season)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: G QJ Peterson, 6-0, sr. (19.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg); G Julian Eleby, 6-3, sr. (13.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg); F Trey Chapman, 6-6, sr. (8 ppg ,4.7 rpg).

NOTABLE: Peterson was named to the preseason all-SoCon team ... Coach Dan Earl came from Navy to replace Duggar Baucom after Baucom left for The Citadel a year ago.