BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Returning seven of their top 10 players from last year's squad, the Birmingham-Southern College men's basketball team is primed to repeat their historic season. The reigning Southern Athletic Association champion brings back three starters from a team that went 23-7 overall and 14-0 in conference play.
"I think this is one of the more talented teams that we've had in my nine years at BSC," said Head Coach Chris Graves. "The challenge is really going to be seeing how our guys develop and emerge into new roles. I think if our team can play together, we've got a chance to be really good this year."
The Panthers will look to All-SAA selections Ian Thom (Cold Spring, N.Y./Croton-Harmon HS), Evan Lewis (Birmingham, Ala./Ramsey HS), and Harrison Deneka (Memphis, Tenn./Christian Brothers HS) along with James McLean (Maitland, Fla./Winter Park HS) to lead the team back to a conference title.
"We had a very balanced team last year," said Graves. "So all of these guys have been really important to the success that we've had. And in our sophomore class, we've got four big kids who all have the potential to be really good."
BSC also welcomed a class of talented freshman who are expected to make immediate impacts including four all-state players. Calvin Bak (Muscle Shoals, Ala./Muscle Shoals HS), Matt Gonda (Roswell, Ga./Roswell HS), and John Kendall (Huntsville, Ala./Westminster Christian Academy) will compete for time in the backcourt this season, as well as, Kaden Moore (Gadsden, Ala./Hokes Bluff HS) in the front court.
The Panthers year opens on the road at Baruch on Tuesday, Nov. 15. They then begin the home season in their annual Black Tie Classic November 19-20 in Bill Battle Coliseum against Rose-Hulman and Wabash College. In the first month of competition, they will also play host to Covenant College (Nov. 22), and Emory University (Nov. 30).
"This is the first time we've has the opportunity to go up and play Baruch in New York," said Graves. "They have been an NCAA tournament team several times. And the exciting part this year is it's the first time we've had an opportunity to host so many quality opponents in the preseason with games against Emory, who we played in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Wabash, and Hampden-Sydney."
SAA play starts on the road at Millsaps College (Jan. 2) with the conference home opener coming against Oglethorpe University on Friday, Jan. 13. The SAA tournament is scheduled for February 24-26.