As a sophomore in 2014-15, guard Tevon Saddler led UNCG in scoring (13.4 ppg) and assists (4.0 apg) while also grabbing 4.6 rebounds per game. After earning third team all-conference honors last season, Saddler was expected to lead the way for a team that returns five of its top six scorers from a season ago.
However things have changed, with it being announced by Miller Saturday evening that Saddler has left the team. And it’s a move that caught Miller’s program by surprise as they’re just one week away from their season opener against Greensboro College.
“Our entire program was caught off guard by Tevon’s decision to quit our team a week before our first game,” Miller said in a release. “The timing of this makes it very difficult for me to understand his decision. That said, our focus is on the young men in our locker room that our committed to this program and committed to each other”
To have this occur at this juncture in the team’s preparations for the upcoming season, especially when it was a surprising decision, is tough for UNCG. With Saddler’s departure junior guards Diante Baldwin (10.2 ppg, 3.5 apg) and Clay Byrd (5.5 ppg) become even more important players for the Spartans, with forward Kayel Locke (12.6, 5.7 rpg) and center R.J. White (11.8, 6.9) now the team’s leading returning scorers.
UNCG was picked to finish sixth in the SoCon in the preseason coaches’ poll, with Locke joining Saddler as a preseason all-conference selection.
h/t Brian Hall, WFMY-TV Greensboro
UNCG announced Thursday that its athletic department has been placed on probation by the NCAA for rules violations that occurred between the 2007-08 and 2012-13 academic years. The violations, which were deemed to be secondary by the NCAA, were self-reported by UNCG and came as a result of programs failing to properly monitor the initial-eligibility and squad list certification processes.
UNCG self-imposed a number of penalties, including a year of probation, the forfeiture of games in which athletes found to be ineligible competed, and a $5,000 fine, with the NCAA adding a year of probation to make it a total of two years.
“UNCG is committed to the highest level of NCAA compliance,” UNCG athletic director Kim Record said in a statement released by the school. “We are committed to abiding by all NCAA rules and I expect our entire athletic department to continue its strong dedication to compliance in the future.”
The case involves multiple inadvertent violations of the NCAA’s initial-eligibility legislation that resulted in 57 student-athletes from 2007-08 through 2012-13 academic years practicing, competing, receiving athletically related aid and/or receiving actual and necessary expenses for competition while ineligible. A majority of the deficiencies that caused the NCAA initial-eligibility certification violations included student-athletes not registering with the NCAA Eligibility Center, not completing the required amateurism certification questionnaire, not requesting certification for a specific sport in which the student-athlete participated, not submitting transcripts or test scores to the NCAA Eligibility Center and/or not requesting final amateurism certification. Additionally, from 2007-08 through 2010-11, the university did not require the athletics director or head coaches to review and sign squad lists and did not keep lists on file.
Thirteen sports, including men’s basketball, were cited in the report put together by the NCAA. Yet while the violations weren’t deemed to be serious, the number of violations (involving 57 athletes) factored into the NCAA’s decision to add a second year of probation. No sports lost scholarships as a result of the NCAA ruling.
During the preseason the expectation of many was that the Southern Conference race would provide suspense throughout the season, with at least five teams having realistic hopes of winning the regular season title. Ultimately this would not be the case, with perennial juggernaut Davidson winning the league title by three games. However the Wildcats, who will move to the Atlantic 10 in July, won’t lack for challengers in Asheville. Chattanooga won 12 league games in Will Wade’s first season, and three other teams won at least 10 conference games.
(MORE: Browse through all of our conference tournament previews)
When: March 7-10
Where: U.S. Cellular Center, Asheville, N.C.
Final: Monday, March 10 9:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Bob McKillop’s Wildcats lost just one conference game: an 87-85 overtime decision to Elon back on January 16. De’Mon Brooks, the coaches’ choice for SoCon POY, and company were dominant in conference play as they led the SoCon in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, field goal percentage defense and both offensive and defensive efficiency (conference games only). And from a rebounding standpoint the Wildcats led the conference in defensive rebounding percentage; very rarely will this group beat itself. The starting five is experienced, and with four players (including Brooks) scoring in double figures Davidson is a difficult team to defend.
And if they lose?: Wofford
After losing three of their first five conference games (two of the losses came against Chattanooga) the Terriers have gone 9-2, and in conference play they’re second in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Guard Karl Cochran (15.2 ppg, 3.1 apg) and forward Lee Skinner (11.1, 8.6 rpg) have led the way offensively for a group that plays slower than any team in the SoCon.
- Chattanooga: Will Wade’s Mocs won their first eight conference games, and in forward Z Mason they’ve got one of the SoCon’s best players.
- Western Carolina: The Catamounts are led by guard Trey Sumler, but they’ll need to defend better than they did in losses to Chattanooga (83 points allowed) and Samford (93) last week.
- Elon: The Phoenix were the preseason pick of some to win the SoCon, and with five seniors they certainly don’t lack for experience.
- DeMon Brooks, Davidson: SoCon POY, Brooks averages 18.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game on the league’s best team.
- Z Mason, Chattanooga: In addition to averaging 18.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game Mason also swatted three shots per contest, winning SoCon Defensive Player of the Year.
- Trey Sumler, Western Carolina: Sumler’s averaging 17.9 points and 4.4 assists per game for the Catamounts, leading the conference in the latter statistic.
- Jelani Hewitt, Georgia Southern: Hewitt led the SoCon in scoring with an average of 20.0 points per game, and his first round matchup with Furman’s Stephen Croone (19.3 ppg) won’t lack for entertainment.
CBT Prediction: Davidson beats Wofford in the title game.