New Orleans, La. – Talladega has been chosen as the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference favorite for the 2014-15 men’s basketball season by a single point based on a vote of the conference’s coaches. Coaches also selected Talladega senior Brandon Peters as Preseason Player of the Year. Xavier and Philander Smith were tabbed to finish second and third, respectively. The razor thin margin was the result of a split first place vote one ballot, pushing the Tornadoes just out of reach of the Gold Rush and Panthers.
Peters is one of three players on this year’s preseason team to have been named an All-GCAC selection after the 2013-14 season. Both Peters and Xavier’s Sydney Coleman were unanimous choices, appearing on seven of eight ballots. Coaches are not permitted to vote for their own players. They are joined by Nathaniel Hill of Edward Waters, Philander Smith newcomer Ronald March and Peters’ Tornado teammate Charles Winborne.
Talladega, which won both the Eastern Division and the GCAC Tournament titles last season, returns most of the lineup that won 28 games on its way to the school’s second ever appearance in the NAIA tournament and a ranking of sixth in the nation. Matt Cross enters his 3rd season looking to claim Talladega’s first outright regular season championship.
The Tornadoes edge out Xavier, which took the GCAC regular season crown and will be looking for its tenth 20-win season in twelve campaigns, buy a single point in the voting. Dannton Jackson brings back Coleman, along with 2013-14 All-GCAC selection Morris Wright and GCAC Co-Freshman of the Year Lucas Martin-Julien.
Philander Smith, which earned its second consecutive appearance in the NAIA tournament last season, finished just five points behind the Gold Rush. The Panthers made it to the GCAC Tournament finals last season after taking the tournament title in 2013. Sam Weaver’s deep and experienced roster is led by forward Aquill Baynard and guards Teviin Morris and Braylon Spicer.
GCAC 2014-15 Preseason Poll (First-place votes in parenthesis)
- Talladega (3.5)* 54
- Xavier (2.5) 53
- Philander Smith (2) 52
- Edward Waters 38
- SUNO 35
- Tougaloo 20
- Dillard 15
- Voorhees 14
*First place vote was split between Talladega and Xavier on one ballot.
2014-15 Preseason All-GCAC Team
Brandon Peters, Talladega
Sydney Coleman, Xavier
Nathaniel Hill, Edward Waters
Ronald March, Philander Smith
Charles Winborne, Talladega
Others receiving votes: Aquill Baynard, Philander Smith; Joe Brown, SUNO; LaDon Carter, Philander Smith; Shondel Stewart, Talladega; James Williams, Voorhees; Morris Wright, Xavier
GCAC Preseason Player of the Year
Brandon Peters, Talladega