(Head Coach: Jim Boeheim, Atlantic Coast Conference) – Hall of Fame member Jim Boeheim enters his 45th season at the helm of his alma mater ranked second among active Division I coaches in victories…the Orange are coming off an 18-14 campaign that was halted by the national pandemic the day after a quarterfinal victory against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament…Syracuse welcomes back four starters, including the starting backcourt of Buddy Boeheim, a junior, and sophomore Joseph Girard…senior forward Marek Dolezaj and senior center Bourama Sidibe are the other two returning first-stringers…the Orange played in the inaugural Gotham Classic in 2012.
(Head Coach: Will Wade, Southeastern Conference) – In three years at the helm of the LSU program, Will Wade has guided the Tigers to 67 wins and two postseason trips, including advancing to the Sweet 16 of the 2019 NCAA Tournament…this past year saw LSU on the verge of their third straight postseason bid with a 21-10 record and tied for second in the SEC…seven players return in 2020-21, including three starters…the Tigers’ leading returning scorer is sophomore Trendon Watford, who was named to the SEC All-Freshman team a year ago…he is joined by fellow starters in juniors Javonte Smart and Darius Days.
(Head Coach: Will Ryan, Horizon League) – Will Ryan was named head coach of the Phoenix on June 7 after a season as head coach at Wheeling (W. Va.) University…he inherits a team that went 17-16 while picking up a win in the Horizon League tournament…four players who started at least 11 games last year return, led by Horizon League Freshman of the Year Amari Davis, who also garnered third-team All-League honors as the Phoenix’s second-leading scorer…senior PJ Pipes joins Davis in the backcourt.
(Head Coach: Ray Harper, Ohio Valley Conference) – Entering his fifth season at JSU, Ray Harper boasts a career record of 511-183, with a .736 winning percentage that represents the highest of all OVC, and a 80-56 overall mark in four seasons at JSU…this year the Gamecocks return one starter in senior swingman Kayne Henry, who earned a place on the OVC All-Newcomer team a year ago.
(Head Coach: Greg Gary, Southern Conference) – In his first year at Mercer, Greg Gary led the Bears to a 17-15 record, including an 11-7 mark, fueled by a mid-season six-game league winning streak, in the SoCon…this season, nine players return, including three starters, led by junior guard Jeff Gary and sophomore guard Kamar Robertson, who was named to the SoCon’s All-Freshman team last season.
(Head Coach: Geno Ford, America East Conference) – Geno Ford guided the Seawolves to a 20-13 record in his first season at the Stony Brook helm, which included a team record 274 3-pointers made…this year he needs to replace five starters but welcomes back the inside-outside tandem of senior center Mouhamadou Gueye and sophomore guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore…in 33 games last year, Gueye averaged 7.0 ppg and 6.4 rpg while averaging nearly 25 minutes off the bench…Stephenson-Moore played in 28 games and averaged 4.3 ppg with 22 3-pointers…two-time JUCO All-American Juan Felix Rodriguez, who played with Gueye at Monroe College, headlines the Seawolves’ incoming recruiting class.
(Head Coach: Rick Pitino, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) – In one of the biggest announcements of the off-season, Iona hired Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to take over the reins of the Gaels…Pitino comes to New Rochelle having led four different programs to the NCAA Tournament (Boston University, Providence, Kentucky, Louisville) and is the first coach to lead two programs to a National Championship (Kentucky 1996, Louisville 2017)…his .740 winning percentage ranks third-highest among active coaches…at Iona, he inherits two returning starters in senior guards Isaiah Ross and Asante Gist…Ross averaged 11.0 ppg while Gist netted 10.1 ppg in 15 games before an injury ended his season.
Head coach Jamie Dixon has guided the Panthers to 307 wins in 12 seasons at the helm of the program, winning at least 20 games in 11 of those campaigns…he has also led Pitt to the postseason all 12 seasons, including 10 NCAA Tournament berths and a trip to last year’s NIT…the Panthers enter the 2015-16 season with four starters returning, including leading scorer Jamel Artis (13.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and leading rebounder Michael Young (7.3 rpg, 13.4 ppg), both of whom will be juniors…Pittsburgh has been to 25 NCAA Tournaments with one trip to the Final Four.
The Wildcats are coming off their first season as a member of the Atlantic 10…after being picked 12th in the league’s preseason poll, Davidson won the A-10 regular season title and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament…four starters return for the Wildcats, led by the back court of junior Jack Gibbs (16.2 ppg, 120 assists) and senior Brian Sullivan (12.7 ppg, 124 assists)…head coach Bob McKillop will enter his 27th season at Davidson, having amassed 496 victories…the Wildcats have participated in 13 NCAA Tournaments, eight of which have come during McKillop’s tenure.
Eastern Washington Eagles
EWU posted a 26-9 record en route to winning a share of the Big Sky Conference regular season championship, the league’s postseason tournament championship, and earning a NCAA Tournament berth for the second time ever (2003-04)…head coach Jim Hayford, the Big Sky co-Coach of the Year, welcomes back five letterwinners and three 2014-15 redshirts, including senior forward Venky Jois, a first-team all-league honoree who averaged of 16.7 ppg and 7.7 rpg…forward Bogdan Bliznyuk was named the Big Sky’s Freshman of the Year for averaging 8.7 ppg and 4.0 rpg last season.
Morehead State Eagles
The Eagles went 17-17 and advanced to the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament last season…senior guard Brent Arrington leads a group of six returning players from a year ago after averaging 11.1 ppg to go along with 77 assists and 65 steals…he’s joined in the back court by junior Corban Collins (8.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg)…head coach Sean Woods is in his fourth season at Morehead State…the 35 wins over his first two seasons are the most by any Eagles’ coach in history.
Western Carolina Catamounts
Head coach Larry Hunter, who has won 664 games in 35 seasons as a head coach, welcomes back 10 players, including four starters, from a team that went 15-17 a year ago in advancing to the semifinals of the Southern Conference Tournament…leading the way is senior guard Mike Brown, who was the Catamounts’ second leading scorer at 13.8 ppg and their leading rebounder at 6.3 rpg…also back is senior guard Rhett Harrelson, who averaged 11.8 ppg and handed out 73 assists.