Liberty Basketball picked third in ASUN

liberty basketballAs the Liberty men’s basketball team prepares for its first-ever season in the ASUN Conference, the Flames have been picked to finish third in the preseason poll. In addition, Scottie James was named to the ASUN Preseason All-Conference Team.

The preseason team is made up of 10 players throughout the conference. James looks to build off a strong redshirt sophomore campaign where he averaged 13.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. One of the best big men in the country, James shot 61.6 percent from the field last season, which ranked No. 10 in the country, while also posting 11 double-doubles, which also ranked No. 59 in the nation.

The native of Tarpon Springs, Fla. ended the season on a high note, averaging 17.3 points, 12 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and shot 76 percent from the field during Liberty’s Big South Tournament run.

Picked to finish first in the conference is Lipscomb, who appeared in the NCAA Tournament last year, defeating FGCU in the ASUN championship game. The Bison received seven of the nine first-place votes. Florida Gulf Coast and North Florida were the only teams to receive a first-place vote.

The Flames will begin their inaugural season in the ASUN on Jan. 5 and will quickly be tested as they travel to the defending ASUN regular season champion, Florida Gulf Coast (FGCU), in their ASUN opener. The Flames will play three of their first four conference games on the road. Liberty’s first matchup with the defending ASUN Tournament Champion, Lipscomb, will be at the Vines Center on Jan. 29. In return, the Flames will travel to Lipscomb on Feb. 13. At the end of last season, Lipscomb was ranked No. 24 in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll, while FGCU and Liberty both received 13 votes.

FGCU has found recent success in the ASUN, finishing atop the regular season standings the past two seasons and three of the last five seasons. The Eagles have finished either No. 1 or No. 2 in the ASUN for the past six seasons. Quickly rising up the standings has been Lipscomb, finishing top-two in the past two seasons. Lipscomb has posted 43 wins in the last two seasons while FGCU has recorded 49 victories.

The ASUN has been put on the map during the NCAA Tournament as FGCU made it to the Sweet 16 in 2013 as a No. 15 seed. In the following season, former ASUN member, Mercer, upset Duke as a No. 14 seed. Last season, Lipscomb was a No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament and faced No. 2 seed North Carolina.

Preseason Coaches Poll

Place Team (1st Place Votes) Points

  1. Lipscomb (7) 79

  2. FGCU (1) 66

  3. Liberty 63

  4. North Florida (1) 61

  5. Jacksonville 40

  6. NJIT 38

  7. Kennesaw State 26

  8. Stetson 20

  9. North Alabama 12

Preseason Media Poll

Place Team (1st Place Votes) Points

  1. Lipscomb (44) 438

  2. FGCU (2) 374

  3. Liberty 338

  4. North Florida (2) 304

  5. Jacksonville (2) 254

  6. NJIT 203

  7. Kennesaw State 147

  8. Stetson 121

  9. North Alabama 71

ASUN Preseason All-Conference Team

Pos. Name School Class

*G Garrison Matthews Lipscomb Sr.

*F/C Abdul Lewis NJIT Sr.

G Haanif Cheatham FGCU Sr.

F Jace Hogan Jacksonville Sr.

G JD Notae Jacksonville So.

F Scottie James Liberty Jr.

F Rob Marberry Lipscomb Sr.

G Ivan Gandia-Rosa North Florida Jr.

F Noah Horchler North Florida Jr.

F Abayomi Iyiola Stetson So.

* – Unanimous selection

Preseason Player of the Year: Garrison Matthews, Lipscomb

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Noah Horchler, North Florida

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