AUGUSTA, GA – Coming off of their first PBC Tournament Championship and regular-season co-East Division title, the UNC Pembroke Braves have been voted to the top of the men's basketball preseason coaches poll. The Braves captured eight of a possible 11 first-place votes to finish with 117 total points, seven ahead of second-place Augusta University. Columbus State was third with 99 while USC Aiken was fourth. Clayton State finished fifth in the voting with North Georgia sixth, Georgia College seventh and Young Harris eighth. Flagler, a tie between Francis Marion and Lander, and Georgia Southwestern rounded out the voting.
UNC Pembroke won their first PBC Tournament title and made their second NCAA Tournament appearance in the last three years in 2016-17 after posting a 24-8 overall record. The Braves led the PBC in points per game, rebounds per game, rebound margin and steals. For 2017-18, UNCP returns four of their top five scorers including All-Conference seniors Nigel Grant and Brandon Watts along with reigning PBC Tournament MVP Akia Pruitt.
Augusta was the only PBC team to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season and finished with a 24-8 overall record. The Jaguars will have to fill the hole left by the PBC's all-time scoring leader Keshun Sherrill, but do return seniors Tamyrik Fields, Kyle Doyle and Vlad Cobzaru. Also back is junior Tyvez Monroe who was second on the team in scoring with 10.7 ppg and junior Deane Williams who led the team in rebounding.
Columbus State reached the PBC Tournament championship game for the second time in the last three years and made their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Cougars return four seniors from last year's squad including preseason All-Conference selection Jacori Payne who led the team and was fourth in the PBC in scoring at 19.1 ppg. Senior Darius Joell was second on the team in scoring while Marcus Dixon was second in the PBC in rebounding with 10.2 per contest.
USC Aiken improved their 2016-17 win total by 12 from the previous season and were third in the PBC east division with an 18-9 overall mark. The Pacers bring back four seniors for 2017-18 including guard Henry Bolton III, who was named PBC All-Conference a year ago and was second on the team in scoring with 16.1 ppg. Seniors Austin Grimes and Paris Ballinger also return along with sophomore Robert Hill, who was second on the team with 7.1 rebounds per game.
The 2017-18 season will undergo several revisions as conference membership has changed from last year. Gone is the divisional structure and teams will compete in a true double round-robin this year. The top eight teams will advance to tournament play where, for the first time, the men's and women's final four will be split; each hosted by the highest remaining seed following quarterfinal play.
The 2017 men's coaches poll is below. Teams were given 11 points for a first-place vote, 10 for a second and so on. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.
2017-18 PBC Men's Basketball
Preseason Coaches Poll