Both the University of Charleston and West Virginia State men’s basketball teams are predicted to finish in the top half of the Mountain East Conference standings. MEC coaches on Friday voted the Golden Eagles to finish third in the conference, while the Yellow Jackets were picked to finish sixth.
UC, which got one first-place vote, lost two of its top three scorers from last season, departed seniors Keir Anderson and Austin Howard. Sophomore Lamont McManus, who averaged 10.8 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds in 2017-18, returns for a team that reached the conference tournament championship game last season.
“We are excited for the opportunity to play,” UC coach Dwaine Osborne said Friday at MEC media day. “We have a lot of new players. I think we have some guys who are hungry to maybe not only try to get back to the championship game, but to see if maybe we can finish out a little better.”
West Virginia State returns three double-figure scorers from last season, one in which the Yellow Jackets reached the conference tournament and blitzed West Virginia Wesleyan in the first round 110-76. State will be led by senior Pat Johnson-Agwu, an All-MEC first-team selection last season.
“It’s always good to have one of those guys back,” WVSU coach Bryan Poore said of Johnson-Agwu. “We did learn that we could score last year. We’ve added a few good players who I think will really help us, but our success will be determined by how well we play defense.”
The usual suspects were found at the top of the MEC preseason poll. West Liberty, the 2017-18 regular-season conference champion and ranked No. 1 nationally this preseason by Street and Smith’s, is picked to win the conference. Fairmont State was picked to finish second and received five first-place votes to the Hilltoppers’ six.
West Virginia State and Charleston were picked to finish fifth and sixth, respectively, by MEC coaches in the preseason women’s basketball poll, also released Friday. The Yellow Jackets have three starters returning from a team that finished third in the conference last season. The Golden Eagles and first-year head coach Becky Burke have four of their top five leading scorers back this season. UC got one first-place vote.
Glenville State was picked to win the women’s title, with Notre Dame College picked to finish second.