Courtesy: CCU Media Relations
CHARLOTTE, NC – The Coastal Carolina men's basketball team has been selected second in the South Division in the Big South Conference Preseason Poll voted on by the conference's head coaches and media members as announced by the Big South Conference during the annual media day in Charlotte, N.C. Senior guard Anthony Raffa was named first team Preseason All-Big South while senior point guard Kierre Greenwood was selected to the second team.
Charleston Southern received 16 first place votes and a total of 157 points to be named the preseason favorite in the South Division. Coastal had eight first place votes and a total of 147 points to finish second in the voting. Defending regular season and tournament champions, UNC Asheville received five first place votes and 130 points to finish third. Rounding out the South Division poll was Winthrop (67), Gardner-Webb (58) and Presbyterian (50).
Campbell was tabbed the preseason favorite in the North Division with 21 first place votes and 166 points. VMI came in second with five first place votes and 136 points while High Point finished third with three first place votes and 103 points. The final three spots in the North Division pool were Liberty (98), Radford (57) and Longwood (49).
VMI's Stan Okoye was tabbed as the Preseason Player of the Year. Joining Raffa and Okoye on the Preseason All-Big South first team are Darren White and Trey Freeman of Campbell and Saah Nimley of Charleston Southern. Joining Greenwood on the second team are Khalid Mutakabbir of Presbyterian, Jeremy Atkinson of UNC Asheville, Arlon Harper of Charleston Southern and Tashan Newsome of Gardner-Webb.
Raffa returns after a junior season in which he led the team scoring with 16.7 points per game. He was named second team all-conference and second team all-district by the NABC last season. He has scored over 1,000 career points in his time at both Coastal and the University at Albany. He is just 84 points away from becoming just the 17th player in Coastal Carolina men's basketball history to score 1,000 points in a Chanticleer uniform.
Greenwood is coming off the best season of his career where he led the team in assists and was third in scoring. He currently sits in sixth on the CCU career list for assists with 367 and needs just 93 more to move into second. He averaged 11.1 points per game last season while dishing out 5.0 assists per contest. He has started 89 games over his three-year career and been a part of 75 victories and with just 12 wins this season he will become the winningest player in CCU history with 87 career victories.
Ellis returns seven players, including Raffa and Greenwood, from the 2011-12 season. Joining Raffa and Greenwood are seniors Danny Nieman, Charles Ashford and Bisi Addey as well as sophomores Warren Gillis and Richie Berry. Nieman missed the first half of last season but returned to start 13 games late in the year. He has been part of the CCU program for three seasons along with Greenwood and started all 34 games as a sophomore. Ashford, Gillis and Berry round out the very deep backcourt for the Chants this season. Addey is the only returning post player for the Chants and will look to provide leadership to the young frontcourt players this season.
The Chants welcome in eight newcomers including seven freshmen and one junior college transfer. Five of the eight newcomers are frontcourt players while two are guards and one is a combo player. The lone junior in the group is El Hadji Ndieguene who spent last season at Lake Land College in Illinois. He averaged nine points and eight rebounds for LLC which finished with a 25-14 record. He is 6-10 native of Thies, Senegal. Joining Ndieguene in the post are 6-5 freshman Michel Enanga of Yaounde, Cameroon, 6-8 freshman Uros Ljeskovic of Niksic, Montenegro, 6-7 freshman Badoe Diagne of Dakar, Senegal and 6-7 freshman Tristian Curtis of Nassau, Bahamas.
Enanga prepped at high school powerhouse Montverde Academy in Clermont, Fla. His team was ranked No. 12 in the Powerade Fab 50 and was the No. 3 seed in the ESPNHS National High School Invitational. Ljeskovic played on the U18 Montenegrin National Team and spent the end of his high school career at Nelson High school in Ontario, Canada. Diagne prepped at Impact Basketball Academy in Sarasota, Fla. While Curtis spent his high school career in Texas at Lamar High School.
New to the backcourt are freshmen Justin Daniel and Ron Trapps. Daniel is a 6-4 guard from Fort Worth, Texas who spent last season at Cjeoto Academy in Somerset, N.J. He averaged 15 points per game in his one season at Cjeoto. Trapps is a 6-4 guard from Lancaster, S.C. He attended Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia last season where he helped lead the team to a 20-10 record. He averaged 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game at FUMA. He was an All-State selection at Lancaster High School where he averaged 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists per game as a senior. The final newcomer is a 6-5 guard/forward combo from Darlington, S.C., Tre'Von James. James prepped at Mayo High School and helped lead the team to back-to-back Region Championships. He was named All-State as a senior and All-Region as a junior.
Coastal will open the season as host to the University of Akron on Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. to kick off the program's first season in The HTC Center.
Big South Preseason Poll
1 . Campbell (21) - 166
2. VMI (5) - 136
3. High Point (3) - 103
4. Liberty - 98
5. Radford - 57
6. Longwood - 49
1. Charleston Southern (16) - 157
2. Coastal Carolina (8) - 147
3. UNC Asheville (5) - 130
4. Winthrop - 67
5. Gardner-Webb - 58
6. Presbyterian - 50
Preseason All-Big South First Team
Stan Okoye, VMI
Darren White, Campbell
Anthony Raffa, Coastal Carolina
Trey Freeman, Campbell
Saah Nimley, Charleston Southern