AUGUSTA, GA – For the second year in a row, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke is the favorite to win the PBC men's basketball title in a poll of the league's head coaches released on Thursday. The Braves received nine of a possible 11 first-place votes and 118 total points, nine ahead of second-place Clayton State. Augusta was third in the voting with USC Aiken in fourth and Georgia Southwestern in fifth. Columbus State was sixth with Francis Marion seventh and eighth a tie between Georgia College and North Georgia. Flagler, Lander and Young Harris rounded out the voting.
UNC Pembroke is the two-time PBC Tournament champions and enter the 2018-19 season after making their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last eight years. The Braves were PBC regular-season co-Champions last year, their second straight regular-season title. This year, UNCP returns three of their top five starters including All-Conference junior forward Akia Pruitt, who was third on the team in scoring and led in rebounding. Also back is senior James Murray-Boyles, along with junior Micah Kinsey and sophomore David Strother.
Clayton State was the PBC co-Champion of the regular season in 2017-18 and the top seed in the PBC Tournament. The Lakers made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 10 years, advancing to the second round. Clayton State will return three of their top five scorers from that team including All-Conference forward Jaylen Taylor and seniors Aubrey McRae and Justin Tuckson. Taylor led the team in rebounding and was second in scoring and was named 18-19 preseason All-Conference.
Augusta has already gotten off to a great start to the 2018-19 season with a 77-72 exhibition win at South Carolina. The Jaguars finished fourth or better in the PBC standings for the 12thyear in a row and bring back three of their top five scorers from a year ago. Senior forward Deane Williams was second on the team with 13.1 ppg and led the Jags in rebounding with 8.1 per outing. Senior forward Tyvez Monroe was third in scoring and sixth in the PBC in three-pointers made.
USC Aiken reached the semifinals of the PBC Tournament for the first time since 2014 last year and was the top-scoring team in the conference. The Pacers lost some production with senior departures but return leading scorer Doniel Dean, who was a first-team All-Conference selection last season after scoring 16.9 ppg. Also returning is junior center Robert Hill who led the team and was third in the conference in rebounding.
Georgia Southwestern may have the most experienced team entering the 2018-19 season with six seniors on the roster. The Hurricanes return four of their top five scorers including All-Conference selection R.J. Sessions who led the team and was 10thin the league in scoring. Also back is senior Andre Statam who was fourth on the team in scoring and second in rebounding and senior Quenten Taylor who was second in scoring and led the team in assists.
The PBC Coaches Preseason Poll is listed below. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams. The regular-season begins on Friday, Nov. 9, with conference play starting on Saturday, Dec. 1. The 2018-19 PBC Tournament will be held March 6, 9-10 with the final four playing at the site of the highest remaining men's seed.
2018 PBC Men's Basketball
Preseason Coaches Poll
|1.||UNC Pembroke (9)||118|
|2.||Clayton State (3)||109|
First-place votes in parentheses