HPU Men’s Basketball picked fifth in Big South; Bowman Jr. makes second team

CONCORD, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team has been picked fifth in the 2016-17 Big South preseason poll, the league office announced at its annual media day Tuesday.

In the poll, conducted by the league’s coaches and select media members, HPU received 182 points to garner the fifth place showing. Winthrop was picked to win the league with 300 points and all 30 first place votes. Liberty (236), UNC Asheville (227) and Gardner-Webb (218) took the two through four spots.

After the Panthers, Radford (128), Charleston Southern (121), Campbell (101), Longwood (82) and Presbyterian College (55) rounded out the preseason rankings.

In addition to the poll, the league also announced its preseason all-conference teams at a luncheon at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Charlotte Concord Golf Resort & Spa.

HPU redshirt-senior Miles Bowman Jr. earned a spot on the All-Big South second team, along with Ahmad Thomas (UNC Asheville), Armel Potter (Charleston Southern), Kevin Vannatta (UNC Asheville) and Ed Polite Jr. (Radford).

The first team consists of Keon Johnson (Winthrop), Tyrell Nelson (Gardner-Webb), Xavier Cooks (Winthrop), Chris Clemons (Campbell) and John Dawson (Liberty).

Bowman Jr. missed the first 15 games of 2015-16 due to injury, but put together a spectacular end to his season while helping the Panthers earn their second NIT bid in three seasons. He averaged 21 points and 11.5 rebounds in the Big South Championship while shooting 72 percent from the floor. In the process, he became HPU’s first all-tournament selection since 2007.

That performance included a monster 23-point, 16-rebound effort in the Big South semifinals vs. UNC Asheville. He averaged at least 12 points and seven rebounds in five of HPU’s final six games and the Panthers were 8-2 in games where he played more than eight minutes. He started the final four games of the 2015-16 season.

Bowman Jr. is one of eight players returning for the Purple & White this season. HPU also welcomes seven newcomers, including junior college transfer Jalen Williams and freshmen Jamal Wright, Cliff Thomas Jr. and Luke Vargo.

Three of those players are transfer students and will sit out the 2016-17 season due to NCAA guidelines. That trio includes Jahaad Proctor (Iona), Brandon Kamga (Northeastern) and Sam Berlin (St. Thomas Aquinas).

About the Panthers: The High Point University men’s basketball team is coming off its second-straight 20-win season and its fourth-straight Big South Regular Season Championship. HPU advanced to the postseason for the fourth-straight year, qualifying for the NIT for the second time in program history. HPU is the winningest Big South program over the past four years and is one of just four schools nationally to have won a regular season conference title in each of the past three campaigns (Gonzaga, Kansas, Stephen F. Austin).

2016-17 Big South Preseason Poll
1) Winthrop (30) – 300
2) Liberty – 236
3) UNC Asheville – 227
4) Gardner-Webb – 218
5) High Point – 182
6) Radford – 128
7) Charleston Southern – 121
8) Campbell – 101
9) Longwood – 82
10) Presbyterian College – 55

Preseason All-Big South First Team
Keon Johnson, Winthrop
Tyrell Nelson, Gardner-Webb
Xavier Cooks, Winthrop
Chris Clemons, Campbell
John Dawson, Liberty

Preseason All-Big South Second Team
Ahmad Thomas, UNC Asheville
Armel Potter, Charleston Southern
Kevin Vannatta, UNC Asheville
Miles Bowman Jr., High Point
Ed Polite Jr., Radford