CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Despite missing out on the NCAA Tournament, the Chanticleers of the hardwood still have the opportunity to play postseason basketball. Coastal Carolina is one of eight squads in the field for this year’s College Basketball Invitational.
“This tournament is important for us, just the experience is great itself,” CCU guard DeVante’ Jones said. “I have to let these guys know we can’t take this opportunity for granted because it doesn’t come by very often.”
“Any time you have a chance to play it rejuvenates what you do,” Coastal head coach Cliff Ellis said. “You have to get over that [loss] so it rejuvenates you. Practices have been great and this is an opportunity to go out on a high note, I thought our season was a high note but this is a chance to do something extremely positive.”
Coastal’s impressive run this season has without a doubt been led by Jones. The junior guard has received a number of accolades this year, most notably being named Sun Belt Player of the Year.
The New Orleans native also earned a spot on the NABC Division I All-District team. For Jones, It’s been quite a ride to get to this point.
“This is one I probably can say that I really worked for,” added Jones. “Coming from freshman year to this year it’s been a crazy story for me, breaking a bone in my foot two years in a row. I’m just thankful for Coach Ellis and the coaching staff for believing in me each and every year and I’m thankful to bring it back to Conway.
“His game has come from being a good player to an absolutely great player and that’s proven,” Ellis said of Jones. “He’s a special player and fun to coach. He’s been our leader and we wouldn’t have the success that we’ve had this year without him.”
Coastal’s first opponent in Daytona Beach will be the Bryant Bulldogs. Tip-off between the two is set for Monday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. CCU last played in the CBI in 2019 and advanced to the semifinals.
Cliff Ellis and company currently sit at 16-7 overall and finished with a Sun Belt record of 9-5. The Chants lost in the Sun Belt tournament semifinals to App State, who made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years.