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WVSU, A-B, UC Pegged As WVIAC Men's Basketball Favorites

(PRINCETON, W.Va.)---Two-time defending WVIAC Tournament champion West Virginia State is rated a solid favorite by league men's basketball coaches to capture the 2007-08 regular season crown.  Bryan Poore's Yellow Jackets received 9 of 15 first place votes to easily outdistance Alderson-Broaddus for the top spot in the annual preseason poll.

Alderson-Broaddus grabbed four first place votes to finish second.  Third place Charleston garnered the other two nods for the top spot.  West Liberty State, Pitt Johnstown, Shepherd, Concord, and Fairmont State are the fourth through eighth picks.

Wheeling Jesuit leads off the bottom half of the picks in ninth, followed by Seton Hill, Glenville State, and Salem International.  Bluefield State, Ohio Valley, Davis & Elkins, and West Virginia Wesleyan complete the voting.

West Virginia State (26-7, 13-5) is led by All-American guard Ted Scott (27.0 ppg).  The long-range bomber led Division II in scoring last season and helped pace the Jackets to the East Region semifinals.  Forwards Wade Pidock ( 11.4 ppg) and James Helton (8.8 ppg) are the other returning starters.  Transfers Hensley Charles and Wesley Turner will try to fill the void left by four-year starter Tony Cornett.

Alderson-Broaddus (24-6, 18-0) has to replace seven of their top ten players from last season.  However, the Battlers are 146-43 in Greg Zimmerman's six seasons in Philippi.  Samario Clancy ( 8.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg), Stan Hall (17.9 ppg), and Jimmy Williams (8.3 ppg) are the top holdovers.  Former Logan HS standout Zach Green (12.6 ppg in '05-'06) returns to the fold after missing last season.  

Charleston (15-14, 9-9) appears primed for a return to contender status in the WVIAC.  The senior trio of Marquis Brooks ( 17.7 ppg), Robert Strickland (11.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg), and Austin Weatherington (15.3 ppg) provide a strong base for Greg White's Golden Eagles.  Guard Warren Wallace (9.4 ppg) enjoyed a strong rookie campaign.  Virginia Commonwealth transfer James Eversley bolsters the ranks as a swingman.

West Liberty State (25-5, 17-1) made their first trip to the NCAA Tournament last season and led Division II with 98.7 points per game.  The Toppers welcome back four players that averaged at least 13.1 points per game in 2006-07.  Seniors Shane Maynard ( 19.8 ppg), Dan Binggeli (14.3 ppg, 5.5 apg), and Chris Banal (15.8 ppg) have been the heart of Jim Crutchfield's reconstruction of the WLSC program.  Junior guard Ben Howlett (13.1 ppg) is another perimeter offensive threat.

Pitt Johnstown (21-9) is expected to rate among the league's elite in the Mountain Cats' first-season of WVIAC title eligibility.  Bob Rukavina's club was second nationally in field goal percentage last season and narrowly missed the postseason.  Forward Chris Gilliam ( 17.0 ppg, 65% FG) is UPJ's lone senior.  Quinton Davis (11.4 ppg) and Marcus Tullis (9.6 ppg) are returning starters.

Shepherd (16-13, 9-9) has a strong crop of imports that are expected to boost the Rams.  Guards Derek Gallagher ( 7.3 ppg) and Fred Lymas (7.0 ppg) are the lone returning starters.  Transfers Ian Grady (Allegany CC) and Justin Jarman (VMI) should bolster the inside game for Ken Tyler's seventh SU squad.

Concord (17-13, 12-6) must replace All-American Tyrone Anderson and high-scoring guard Brian Foster, but veteran head coach Steve Cox looks for another solid Mountain Lion squad.  Bulky forward Dannie Parker ( 13.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg) came on strong late in the 2006-07 season.  Forward Cortez Smith and guard Cordell Boyd are transfers from Glen Oaks CC, the same school that produced Anderson and former scoring ace Lewis Muse.

Fairmont State (14-14, 8-10) led Division II in made three-pointers per game last season.  Tim Murphy's fourth Falcon club should have another strong perimeter influence with seniors Ronnie Means (7.2 ppg, 6.8 apg), Adam Southern ( 12.9 ppg), and Cody Loughry (11.4 ppg).

Wheeling Jesuit (18-10, 11-7) welcomes home former standout Daniel Sancomb as he replaces long-time mentor Jay DeFruscio on the Cardinal bench.  Rusty Wooten (9.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg) is back after missing last season due to injury.  Maqsood Harrington ( 9.0 ppg), Jhared Simpson (7.0 ppg), and Duane Compo (9.4 ppg) are returning starters.

Seton Hill (15-11) makes their first voyage around the WVIAC this season, but the Griffins are not eligible for the league tournament as they transition into full NCAA membership.  Jordan Thomas ( 13.6 ppg) and Mateja Dicic (12.9 ppg) are key players for Tony Morocco's club.  The roster boasts three players 6-9 or taller, including 7-3 University of Delaware transfer Matt Hewson.

Glenville State (6-22, 3-15) could be the WVIAC's turnaround story in 2007-08.  Head coach Dwaine Osborne returns a talented trio in Chase Groves ( 18.3 ppg), Marcus Catney (15.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg), and Deon Briscoe (10.6 ppg).  Mykail Vibbert, an all-conference selection at Cleveland State (TN) CC, is among a ten-player crop of newcomers that will add depth to the Pioneer roster.

Salem International (15-12, 11-7) is in an unaccustomed spot deep in the preseason picks as former assistant Andy Sorine takes over.  Sorine, a long-time aide for former SIU head coach Mike Carey, has been the mentor at North Marion HS.  

Bluefield State (10-19, 5-13) showed signs of life under third-year head coach Don Jones.  Omar London (15.7 ppg), Mario Thompson (10.0 ppg), and Howard Coston (9.7 ppg) are the top holdovers for the Big Blues.  A young roster only contains one senior.

Ohio Valley (8-20, 5-13) will build around senior center Chris LeBorious (18.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg), a nightly threat to post a double-double.  Head coach Bill McGee will have to quickly blend eight newcomers into the Fighting Scots' system.  OVU will compete in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in early November and could face the University of Connecticut if the Scots pull off an upset versus Buffalo.

Things are beginning to look up for Davis & Elkins (6-22, 3-15) head coach Amrit Rayfield.  The Senators return all five starters as they move into the brand new McDonnell Center, including Jelani Jackson (19.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and Brett Rector (17.0 ppg).  Sophomore Danny Manuel (10.0 ppg) progressed at the point as the season developed last year.  

West Virginia Wesleyan (3-25, 2-16) is in the building process under third-year head coach Bill Lilly.  Junior E.J. Lucas (12.0 ppg) is the leading returning scorer.  Sophomores Keshawn Creighton (8.6 ppg) and Ryan Hoehner (7.0 ppg) flashed potential during their rookie campaigns.

2007-08 WVIAC Men's Basketball Coaches' Poll


1. West Virginia State (9)


2. Alderson-Broaddus (4)


3. Charleston (2)


4. West Liberty State


5. Pitt Johnstown


6. Shepherd


7. Concord


8. Fairmont State


9. Wheeling Jesuit


10. Seton Hill


11. Glenville State


12. Salem International


13. Bluefield State


14. Ohio Valley


15. Davis & Elkins


16. West Virginia Wesleyan



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