MARSHFIELD, Mass. – The Elms College men’s basketball team was picked to finish eighth in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) in 2018-19 by the league’s head coaches, the conference announced on Thursday. The Blazers open the regular season on Saturday against Rhode Island College in Picknelly Arena.
Defending champion Southern Vermont College and newcomer New England College tied for the top spot in the poll. The Mountaineers, who led the way with four first place votes, are under new leadership, as Brian Johnson begins his first season as head coach. Southern Vermont returns three starters from their championship season a year ago, including guard Kyle Depollar (Sr., G, Rockville, Md.), who averaged 10.0 points per game, and senior Andre Hodo (Sr., G/F, Silver Spring, Md.), who averaged 9.9 points per game.
New England College picked up two first place votes of their own, and are also coming off of a championship season, as they were the 2017-18 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Champions. The Pilgrims, led by longtime head coach Charlie Mason, return guard Ricky Leonard (Sr., G, Windsor, Conn.), who was second in the NAC in scoring with 17.0 points per game and earned first team All-NAC recognition. The Pilgrims will also bring back the NAC’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, Calvin Cheek (So., G, Mattapan, Mass.), who led the NAC with 5.1 steals per game.
Mitchell College takes the third spot with 48 points, and the final first place vote. Head coach Todd Peretz will return a strong frontcourt, with first team All-NECC honoree Domenico Santiago (Jr., F/C, Port St. Lucie, Fla.) and second team All-NECC performer Hasani Williams (So., F, Miramar, Fla.) both returning. Santiago led the league in rebounds with 11.1 per game, while also averaging 19.3 points per game. Williams pulled down 9.4 boards per game.
Becker College comes in at the fourth spot with 41 points, and will have head coach Brian Gorman back on the sidelines. The Hawks reached the NECC championship game a season ago, and will look to senior Kareem Davis (Sr., G, Lowell, Mass.) to make a significant impact, after a season where he earned first team All-Conference honors, averaging 20.0 points per game.
Dean College nabs the fifth spot with 39 total points. The Bulldogs are under the direction of fifth-year head coach Rico Cabral, and return first team All-NECC performer Jordan Booker (Jr., G, Waterbury, Conn.). Booker averaged 18.0 points per game a season ago.
In its first year as an NECC member, Eastern Nazarene College was voted into the sixth spot. The Lions are led by an experienced head coach in Scott Polsgrove, and will look to make waves in their first year of NECC competition. They will return Josh Rice (Jr., G/F, Hanson, Mass.), who was a third team All-Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) performer in 2017-18, leading his squad with 15.7 points per game.
Newbury College, Elms and Lesley University round out the 2018-19 Preseason Coaches Poll.
2018-19 Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll*
T1. Southern Vermont College – 54 (4)
T1. New England College- 54 (2)
3. Mitchell College- 48 (1)
4. Becker College – 41
5. Dean College- 39
6. Eastern Nazarene College- 26
7. Newbury College- 25
8. Elms College- 15
9. Lesley University- 13
*Not all institutions participated in preseason poll