Hofstra Tabbed Favorite In Preseason Poll, Riller Is Player Of The Year

CAA Men's Basketball Preview Show

Hofstra, which earned the 2018-19 CAA regular-season title, is favored to claim the 2019-20 CAA men’s basketball championship, according to a vote of the league’s coaches, media relations directors, and media members.

Charleston’s Grant Riller was voted the CAA Preseason Player of the Year after a junior year in which he averaged 21.9 points and 4.1 assists per game and earned First Team All-CAA accolades. Joining Riller on the preseason All-CAA First Team were Towson’s Brian Fobbs, Nathan Knight of William & Mary, James Madison junior Matt Lewis, and Hofstra’s Eli Pemberton.

Voted to the preseason second team were Delaware’s Ryan Allen, JMU’s Darius Banks, Hofstra senior Desure Buie, Northeastern’s Jordan Roland, and Drexel sophomore Camren Wynter.

In one of the closest preseason votes in CAA history, five teams – Hofstra, Charleston, Northeastern, James Madison, and Delaware – earned first-place votes in the poll. The Pride finished atop the poll with 331 points and 14 first-place votes. Charleston was just eight points behind Hofstra, receiving 18 first-place votes and 323 points. Northeastern earned four first-place votes and 291 points, while James Madison collected three first-place tallies, finishing with 253 points in fourth. Delaware collected the remaining two first-place votes in finishing fifth with 241 points. Towson was selected sixth, followed by William & Mary, Drexel, UNCW, and Elon.

Hofstra went 27-8 last season, earning the outright CAA regular-season title before advancing to the CAA championship game. With two-time CAA Player of the Year Justin Wright-Foreman being a second-round NBA Draft pick of the Utah Jazz, the Pride will be led this season by Pemberton, who was a Second Team All-CAA selection after averaging 15.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as a junior. Pemberton was joined on the preseason All-CAA teams by Buie, who earned CAA Defensive Player of the Year and Third Team All-CAA honors after an 82-steal campaign in 2018-19. Tareq Coburn (8.4 ppg) rounds out the trio of returning starters for the Pride.

Charleston returns two starters from last season’s 24-9 squad that reached the semifinals of the CAA championship. The Cougars will be led by Riller, who enters his junior season 177 points from entering the top 15 in CAA history. A two-time First Team All-CAA honoree, Riller is one of two returning starters for the Cougars, joined by Brevin Galloway (7.9 ppg). Over the last three seasons, Charleston has won 75 games and will face a challenging non-conference slate that includes games against Oklahoma State, Wake Forest, Marshall, and VCU.

The reigning CAA champion, Northeastern went 23-11 last season in collecting the program’s second CAA title. The Huskies will see two starters returning from that squad in seniors Roland and Bolden Brace. With 99 three-pointers last season, Roland set a school record and was an All-CAA Third Team selection after posting 14.6 ppg. Brace joined Roland by hitting over 40 percent of his three-point attempts and averaged 9.9 ppg to go along with 6.1 rpg.

James Madison is one of two CAA teams bringing back four starters as Banks, Lewis, Deshon Parker, and Dwight Wilson all return after a 14-19 season. Lewis was a Third Team All-CAA pick after averaging 16.4 ppg as a sophomore and eclipsed 1,000 career points in just two years. Banks was voted to the preseason second team after a sophomore season in which he averaged 12.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

Delaware has seen its win total improve each season under head coach Martin Ingelsby, going 17-16 in 2018-19 and reaching the semifinals of the CAA championship for the first time in five years. Allen (16.0 ppg) and Kevin Anderson (10.7 ppg, 3.8 apg) will be counted on to lead the Blue Hens’ backcourt. The Blue Hens used a preseason trip to the Bahamas to integrate several new pieces, including transfers Nate Darling, Justyn Mutts, and Dylan Painter, all of whom will be eligible this upcoming season.

Towson joins James Madison as one of two CAA squads welcoming back four starters. Led by Fobbs, who posted 17.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game en route to earning Second Team All-CAA honors, the Tigers bring back 86 percent of their scoring and 90 percent of their rebounds from last season. Among Towson’s returnees, nine players averaged 10 or more minutes per game and started at least three games.

After a historic 2018-19 campaign, Knight returns to lead William & Mary under new head coach Dane Fischer. A finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award last year, Knight earned First Team All-CAA and All-Defensive Team honors after a junior season in which he posted 21.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. Knight joined Tim Duncan as the only other Division I player since 1992 to average at least 20.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, and 2.0 bpg in a season.

Including the inside-outside duo of James Butler (10.3 ppg, 59.8 fg%) and Wynter (11.3 ppg, 5.4 apg), Drexel returns 12 letter winners from last season’s squad. Wynter became the first Drexel player since Damion Lee to earn CAA Rookie of the Year honors, setting a Drexel freshman record with 174 assists. A return to health from both Zach Walton (9.6 ppg in 7 games) and Kurk Lee (9.3 ppg in 6 games) should bolster the Dragons as both players missed extended time last season.

After the graduation of Devontae Cacok saw the record-setter sign an Exhibit 10 contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, UNCW will turn to Kai Toews to run its offense. As a freshman, Toews set a CAA single-season record for assists, dishing out 253 on the year and earned CAA All-Rookie Team accolades. An eight-day trip to Italy enabled UNCW to assimilate eight newcomers into its lineup.

Under first-year head coach Mike Schrage, Elon added five newcomers to its roster, including preseason honorable mention pick Marcus Sheffield II. A graduate transfer, Sheffield appeared in 27 games for Stanford last season, averaging 5.6 points and knocking down 30 three-pointers.

The 2019-20 season will tip-off on Tuesday, Nov. 5, with eight of the CAA’s 10 teams in action. Conference play will open on Saturday, Dec. 28 until the end of the regular season on Sunday, March 1. The 2020 CAA Men’s Basketball Championship will run March 7-10 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C. 

2019-20 CAA Men's Predicted Order of Finish 

Team (1st-place votes)

Points

1. Hofstra (14)

331

2. Charleston (18)

323

3. Northeastern (4)

291

4. James Madison (3)

253

5. Delaware (2)

241

6. Towson

194

7. William & Mary

131

8. Drexel

125

9. UNCW

118

10. Elon

48

 

2019-20 CAA Men's Preseason All-Conference Teams 

First Team

Cl.

Pos.

Ht.

Wt.

Hometown/High School (Last)

Brian Fobbs, Towson

Sr.

G

6-5

210

Rochester, N.Y./Bishop Kearney (Genesee CC)

Nathan Knight, William & Mary

Sr.

F/C

6-10

245

Syracuse, N.Y./Nottingham

Matt Lewis, James Madison

Jr.

G

6-5

195

Woodbridge, Va./Bishop O’Connell

Eli Pemberton, Hofstra

Sr.

G

6-5

195

Middletown, Conn./Cheshire Academy

Grant Riller, Charleston

Sr.

G

6-3

190

Orlando, Fla./Ocoee

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Team

Cl.

Pos.

Ht.

Wt.

Hometown/High School (Last)

Ryan Allen, Delaware

Jr.

G

6-2

200

Bowie, Md./DeMatha Catholic

Darius Banks, James Madison

Jr.

G

6-5

220

St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg

Desure Buie, Hofstra

Sr.

G

5-11

160

Bronx, N.Y./Wings Academy

Jordan Roland, Northeastern

R-Sr.

G

6-1

171

Syracuse, N.Y./Westhill (George Washington)

Camren Wynter, Drexel

So.

G

6-2

175

Hempstead, N.Y./Holy Trinity


CAA Preseason Player of the Year: Grant Riller, Charleston 

Honorable Mention: Bolden Brace, Sr., G, Northeastern; Kai Toews, So., G, UNCW; Kevin Anderson, Jr., G, Delaware; Marcus Sheffield II, Gr., G/F, Elon; James Butler, Jr., F, Drexel

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