ROCK HILL, S.C. – Carson-Newman sophomore Ishmael Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.) has been named to the 2011 Preseason Men's Basketball All-South Atlantic Conference Team, and the Carson-Newman Eagles have been picked to finish fifth in the coaches' preseason poll, the league announced Wednesday.
Sanders led the Eagles in scoring at 13.4 points per game, but improved as the season progressed.
The sophomore reached double figures in 15-of-19 games to close the year, including a historic 51-point outburst in a 106-86 win over Mars Hill College. The game set the SAC single-game record for points in a game. He shot 39 percent from three-point range on the year, connecting on 75 triples in his freshman season.
C-N will look to improve on an 11-16 record from a season ago. It finished 8-10 in SAC play to finish in a tie for fourth. The Eagles return two starters, led by Sanders and sophomore guard Kevin Leatherwood.
Lincoln Memorial, ranked fifth in the preseason NABC/NCAA Division II national poll, has been tabbed by the SAC men's basketball coaches to win the conference title in 2011-12. After winning the regular-season and SAC Tournament championships a year ago, LMU returns three preseason All-Conference selections, including first-team pick and reigning SAC Player of the Year Desmond Johnson. The Railsplitters received six first-place votes in the poll.
Johnson, who averaged 14.9 points and 8.4 rebounds in 2010-11, has been named preseason All-America by several media outlets, including Sporting News and Division II Bulletin.
Just behind LMU in the coaches poll is Wingate, which after going 19-10 overall and 12-6 in the league a year ago, returns two first team All-SAC picks in Odell Turner and Jaime Vaught, both of whom averaged double-digit scoring in 2010-11. The Bulldogs received three first-place votes from the coaches.
Anderson, coming off a thrilling Elite Eight run last season, is No. 3 in the SAC to start 2011-12. The Trojans are followed by No. 4 Newberry, No. 5 Carson-Newman and No. 6 Catawba.
The Indians, who received one first-place vote, return preseason All-SAC first team selection Keon Moore, while AU and C-N each return one preseason second-teamer.
Tusculum and Lenoir-Rhyne, which both have one student-athlete on the preseason All-Conference second team, are No. 7 and No. 8 in the poll, respectively.
Mars Hill and Brevard round out the coaches poll at No. 9 and No. 10, but each return a preseason All-Conference first team selection. MHC's Sammy Emile was a second team All-SAC pick in 2010-11 and is the league's top returning scorer, while BC's Gaither Hendrix averaged 14.9 points per game last season, good for 10th in the conference.
The preseason All-SAC teams are voted on by the league's media relations directors.
The SAC men's basketball regular season gets underway on Friday, Nov. 11. The 2012 Food Lion SAC Basketball Championship will take place March 3-4 in Hickory, N.C.
SAC Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll
Team - Points (1st-Place)
1. Lincoln Memorial - 96 (6)
2. Wingate - 92 (3)
3. Anderson - 68
4. Newberry - 60
5. Carson-Newman - 50
6. Catawba - 49 (1)
7. Tusculum - 48
8. Lenoir-Rhyne - 46
9. Mars Hill - 29
10. Brevard - 12
Preseason All-SAC First Team
Gaither Hendrix, Brevard
Keon Moore, Catawba
Desmond Johnson, Lincoln Memorial
Sammy Emile, Mars Hill
Odell Turner, Wingate
Jaime Vaughn, Wingate
Preseason All-SAC Second Team
Denzail Jones, Anderson
Ishmael Sanders, Carson-Newman
Allan Jones, Lenoir-Rhyne
Brandon Armstrong, Lincoln Memorial
Cam Carden, Lincoln Memorial
Justin Steigerwald, Tusculum