Augusta, GA – North Georgia was picked to
finish fourth in the Peach Belt Conference according to a poll
released this afternoon by the league’s head coaches. USC
Aiken was picked to win the conference, followed by Augusta State
and Clayton State.
The Saints are coming off their most successful season since entering the NCAA after going 18-11 overall, 12-8 in PBC play, and picking up their first-ever Peach Belt Conference Tournament victory. Head Coach Chris Faulkner enters his sixth season at the helm of the Saints, and returns three starters from a year ago. Last year’s Peach Belt All-Conference performer Andre Morgan, who averaged 14.9 points per game, will look to lead a veteren-laden squad that features six seniors and five juniors. The Saints will open conference play on the road, taking on Francis Marion University on December 15, in Florence, South Carolina.
USC Aiken receives the PBC preseason vote for the first time ever following their breakout performance last season. The Pacers won the PBC Championship for the first time in 15 years with a 27-4 overall record and 19-1 mark in the conference. For 2008-09, the Pacers will once again look to forward Chris Commons. The All-American and co-PBC Player of the Year averaged 21.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. USCA returns four of five starters to the floor, but will be missing guard Jeremy Fears who is now playing professionally overseas after averaging 17.3 ppg last season.
If there was one team that overshadowed USCA’s accomplishments last year, it was Augusta State. The Jaguars finished second in the PBC and lost in the second round of the PBC Tournament, but rallied to win the NCAA Regional and advance to the National Championship game, becoming only the second PBC team to do so. The Jaguars finished the year 27-7 and have hopes of returning to the Elite Eight in 2008-09. Back is center Garret Siler who once again led the nation in field goal percentage and led the PBC in rebounding. Also returning is All-Conference guard Ben Madgen. However, the Jaguars will have to replace Tyrekus ‘AJ’ Bowman, who averaged 19.8 ppg and was a co-PBC Player of the Year.
Clayton State had trouble finding consistency in the regular season, finishing 9-11 in conference play, but put it all together at the right time as they won the PBC Tournament as the seventh seed, earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and reached the regional finals where they fell to ASU. The Lakers return two starters and eight total players from last years 19-15 team.
The PBC regular season begins Nov. 15 and continues through the 2009 PBC Tournament, March 3-8 in Aiken, S.C.
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