The USA South Athletic Conference announced the men's basketball coaches preseason polls for the upcoming 2017-18 season. This is the first season that the conference will split into East and West divisions in the sport of men's basketball. The conference welcomes new members Berea College, Brevard College, and Pfeiffer University. Brevard and Pfeiffer will not be included in the polls as they are each reclassifying from NCAA Division II and are not eligible for championship honors this season.
LaGrange is second to Maryville in the West Divsion preseason poll. The Panthers are coming off an 18-11 season, that included their third USA South Tournment title in the past four years and a fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Division III national tournament. Following Maryville and LaGrange in the West were Covenant, Piedmont, Berea, and Huntingdon.
"Our conference is tough. Last season first and last place was decided by one game," said Coach Kendal Wallace. "Being voted second is where I thought we would be. The three teams voted in at first, second, and third in both divisions all have most of their same team back. It should be a very exciting year in the USA South."
Wallace is entering his seventh season with the Panthers. He needs three victories to reach 100 career wins and has a 97-50 overall record with the Panthers. Wallace is five wins shy of becoming the second winningest men's coach at LC.
The Panthers return senior guard Alex Bonner, the USA South Tournament Most Valuable Player. Bonner averaged 12.9 points per game and a team-leading 5.9 rebounds per game. Junior forward Elijah Adedoyin averaged 11.5 points per game, while fellow junior forward Travis Thompson averaged 8.1 points per game and was named to the USA South All-Tournament team.
Methodist was voted as the East Division favorites. The Panthers defeated the Monarchs in the 2017 USA South Tournament championship game. N.C. Wesleyan, Averett, Greensboro, Ferrum, and William Peace followed Methodist in the East Dvision poll
The USA South men's basketball regular season gets underway on Wednesday, Nov. 15 as 10 teams take on non-League opposition. The Panthers open Friday, Nov. 17 at Penn State-Altoona, who is coached by former LC assistant David McGreal.
The 2018 USA South Men's Basketball Tournament will once again be conducted exclusively on campus sites. The top-four seeded teams from each division will advance to the tournament.