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Late Night Snacks: North Florida, USC Upstate advance to Atlantic Sun title game

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Bucknell 90, Holy Cross 83 (OT)

Holy Cross was one stop away from upsetting the top seed in the Patriot League tournament, but a Chris Hass three-point play with 25 seconds remaining forced overtime. From there it was all Bucknell, as Hass finished with a team-high 32 points and Steven Kaspar came off the bench to play some solid defense down the stretch on Holy Cross’ Malcolm Miller. Miller finished the game with 34 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four blocks for the Crusaders, but he missed a three that would have won the game in the final seconds of regulation.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. USC Upstate 63, FGCU 62

For the second straight year FGCU fell short of its goal of returning to the NCAA tournament, this time falling to the Spartans in the A-Sun semis. Bernard Thompson was fouled on a three-point attempt by Ty Greene with one second remaining and the Eagles trailing by three, but he missed the third attempt after making the first two. Greene, the A-Sun Player of the Year, led the Spartans with 20 points while Thompson scored a game-high 25. Next up for USC Upstate is top-seed North Florida Sunday afternoon, as the Ospreys beat Lipscomb 71-57. And regardless of who wins the title game, the Atlantic Sun’s NCAA tournament representative will be making its first appearance in the Big Dance.

2. No. 6 Wisconsin 76, Minnesota 63

Frank Kaminsky accounted for 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds as the Badgers wrapped up the outright Big Ten regular season title in Minneapolis. Sam Dekker added 20 points and five rebounds, and Nigel Hayes contributed 12 points and nine boards for Wisconsin. Freshman guard Nate Mason paced the Golden Gophers with 15 points, but it’s incredibly tough to beat Wisconsin when they shot 50 percent from the field and 10-for-20 from beyond the arc.

3. Davidson 82, VCU 55

Davidson took another step towards earning an NCAA tournament berth few deemed possible before the season began, as they blew out the Rams to move into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 with Dayton. Bob McKillop’s team led from start to finish in this one, shooting 50 percent from the field and 11-for-26 from beyond the arc. Tyler Kalinoski led four starters in double figures with 22 points and reserve forward Jordan Barham tallied 13 points and 14 rebounds off the bench. VCU, which has struggled offensively in recent games, shot 39.6 percent from the field and 1-for-15 from three.

STARRED

1. Delaware State’s Kendall Gray and Amere May

In the Hornets’ 104-92 win over Coppin State, Gray and May stole the show. While May scored 40 points on 13-for-24 shooting from the field, Gray (the nation’s top rebounder) accounted for 33 points and 30 rebounds.

2. Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky

25 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field, seven assists and six rebounds in a win at Minnesota.

3. North Florida’s Dallas Moore

Scored 36 points in the Ospreys’ 71-57 win over Lipscomb in an Atlantic Sun semifinal.

STRUGGLED

1. UConn’s Rodney Purvis

One game after scoring a career-high 28 points, Purvis missed all seven of his field goal attempts and scored three-points in a home loss to Memphis.

2. ULM’s Tylor Ongwae

Ongwae made just two of his fourteen field goal attempts, scoring eight points and committing seven turnovers in the Warhawks’ 58-50 loss to Georgia State.

3. VCU’s Treveon Graham

Graham continues to struggle offensively, and in the Rams’ loss at Davidson he score just four points on 2-for-7 shooting from the field.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 18 Arkansas erased an 11-point second half deficit to win 78-74 at South Carolina. Bobby Portis led the Hogs with 24 points and eight rebounds, and Anthlon Bell scored 17 off the bench.
  • No. 5 Arizona rolled to a 99-60 win over California, as Brandon Ashley scored 21 points and five other players scored in double figures for the Wildcats. Arizona wraps up the outright Pac-12 title with the win.
  • Delon Wright tallied 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists and No. 13 Utah came back to win 67-59 at Washington State. Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor both made some key shots in the second half as the Runnin’ Utes erased an eight-point deficit.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

  • Atlantic Sun: USC Upstate and North Florida advanced, setting up Sunday’s title game at UNF.
  • MAAC: Siena advances with a 71-57 win over Niagara, setting up a quarterfinal matchup with top-seed Iona Saturday afternoon. And with the game being played on Siena’s home court, things could get interesting. Saint Peter’s (over Fairfield) and Marist (over Quinnipiac) were the other winners. Saturday’s quarterfinal matchups: Siena vs. Iona, Canisius vs. Monmouth, Saint Peter’s vs. Rider and Marist vs. Manhattan.
  • Missouri Valley: Deion Lavender led three starters in double figures with 12 points as Southern Illinois beat Missouri State 55-48. In the nightcap Bradley beat Drake 52-50 in overtime, with two Tramique Sutherland free throws being the difference. Friday’s quarterfinal matchups: Southern Illinois vs. Wichita State, Evansville vs. Illinois State, Bradley vs. Northern Iowa and Loyola (IL) vs. Indiana State.
  • Ohio Valley: Morehead State won its second straight, moving to the semifinals with a 76-65 win over UT Martin. In the nightcap Belmont blew out Eastern Illinois. Friday’s semifinal matchups: Morehead State vs. Murray State and Belmont vs. Eastern Kentucky.
  • Patriot League: American was the lone road team to win Thursday night, as they won 68-62 at Lehigh. The other winners: top-seed Bucknell (in overtime over Holy Cross), two-seed Colgate (over Navy) and four-seed Lafayette (over Boston University). Sunday’s semifinal matchups: Lafayette at Bucknell and American at Colgate.

NOTABLES

  • Temple took care of business on the road, winning 70-56 at East Carolina. The Owls, who beat Kansas in December, host UConn this weekend.
  • North Carolina Central completed a 16-0 run through the MEAC with a win over North Carolina A&T. LeVelle Moton’s record in regular season conference games over the last three seasons: 46-2.
  • Old Dominion hasn’t been discussed all that often when it comes to bubble teams, but they’re 23-6 after taking care of Marshall. Among their non-conference wins: LSU and VCU, with the latter having Briante Weber and being ranked 14th in the country at the time.
  • Shaq Goodwin’s basket with 8.1 seconds remaining gave Memphis a one-point win at UConn. The win gives Memphis a sweep of the season series after they lost to the Huskies three times a season ago.
  • Stephen F. Austin clinched a share of the Southland regular season title with a 92-66 win over Northwestern State, and they can win it outright with a victory over Sam Houston State on Saturday.
  • Sacramento State lost 69-65 at Southern Utah, and they drop into a three-way tie atop the Big Sky with Eastern Washington and Montana as a result. The top seed in the conference tournament receives the added benefit of hosting the event.
  • Texas Southern, which picked up its seventh straight win Thursday night, clinched the outright SWAC title. Mike Davis’ team has an automatic bid to the NIT if they don’t win the conference tournament.
  • UC Davis wrapped up the outright Big West title with a two-point win over UC Riverside. Jim Les’ team finished last in the conference last season.
  • Stanford’s already slim at-large chances took another hit, as the Cardinal lost at Arizona State. Even with a win at No. 5 Arizona on Saturday, Stanford will likely need to win the Pac-12 tournament if they’re to return to the NCAA tournament.

2014-2015 Season Preview: Without Mercer in the Atlantic Sun, does anyone contend with Dunk City?

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we will be previewing the Atlantic Sun.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

For the second year in a row, an Atlantic Sun program captivated the nation in March, as Mercer defeated Duke in the Round of 64. The Bears reached the NCAA tournament after knocking off Florida Gulf Coast in the A-Sun title game, avenging a conference tournament loss from the previous season. Mercer exited the Atlantic Sun on a high note, as Bob Hoffman’s program is now a member of the Southern Conference.

Despite the departure of Mercer, one thing remains the same in 2014-2015: Dunk City will be the favorite once again. The conference’s two best guards — Bernard Thompson and Brett Comer — both reside in the FGCU back court. The three-year starters were part of the Original Dunk City back in 2013, the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16. Transfers Julian DeBose (Rice) and Brian Greene Jr. (Auburn) provide depth in the backcourt, and while the Eagles lose Eric McKnight to transfer and Filip Cvjeticanin to injury, Joe Dooley feels good about his frontline with returning Jamil Jones and Nate Hicks with newcomers Demetris Morant (a transfer from UNLV), Marc-Eddy Norelia and Eric Moeller.

MORE: Mid-Major Power Rankings Mid-Major All-Americans

Two teams that finished .500 last season could emerge as the biggest challenges to FGCU. Lipscomb has four starters back led by twin brothers Martin and Malcolm Smith. In Casey Alexander’s second season, his Bisons finished strong with eight wins in their last 11 games. North Florida has rookie of the year Dallas Moore in the back court and Beau Beech headlines a host of returnees on the interior who can help combat the loss of Travis Wallace, the team’s second leading scorer and top rebounder.

USC Upstate lost three of its top four scorers from a team that qualified for the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, but Ty Greene, one of two returning starters, can help keep Spartans in the top half of the league standings.

Perhaps the biggest concern for the Atlantic Sun is the number of programs that have left the league. In addition to Mercer, East Tennessee State and Belmont have also left the league in recent years. Those were three of the best programs in the conference.

REALIGNMENT MOVES

  • In: None
  • Out: East Tennessee State, Mercer

PRESEASON ATLANTIC SUN PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Bernard Thompson, Florida Gulf Coast

The 6-foot-3 shooting guard makes up one-half of FGCU’s star-studded back court. The team’s top scorer from a season ago posted 15.1 points to go along with his 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. He is also has a presence on the other end of the floor being named A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2012-2013.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ATLANTIC SUN TEAM:

  • Brett Comer, Florida Gulf Coast: The Dunk City floor general is the conference’s top returning assist man. First-team all-conference selection in 2013-2014.
  • Dallas Moore, North Florida: The Atlantic Sun Rookie of the Year averaged 12.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc.
  • Martin Smith, Lipscomb: The A-Sun’s top returning scorer at 15.6 points per game. Dropped 20 on FGCU twice last season.
  • Ty Greene, USC Upstate: The 6-foot-3 senior posted averages of 14.3 points, 3.0 boards and 3.5 assists per game.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @ASunMBB

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Florida Gulf Coast
2. Lipscomb
3. North Florida
4. USC Upstate
5. Northern Kentucky
6. Kennesaw State
7. Stetson
8. Jacksonsville

USC Upstate assistant Kyle Perry promoted to associate head coach

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Having served as an assistant at USC Upstate since 2009, Kyle Perry has played an important role in the Spartans’ transition to the Division I level. On Tuesday he was rewarded with a promotion by head coach Eddie Payne, with Perry now being the program’s associate head coach.

“Coach Perry has demonstrated proficiency and excellence in so many difference phases of our program, and I thought it was appropriate to make him Associate Head Coach,” Payne said in the release announcing the move. “He has functioned in that role already, and I think the title speaks to what he does for our program and how he has impacted our program.”

Among the players Perry has been credited with helping the program land was forward Torrey Craig, who wrapped up a storied four-year career at USC Upstate this past spring. Craig left the school ranked in the top five in career points (second), rebounds (first) and blocked shots (fifth).

USC Upstate finished the 2013-14 season with a 19-15 record (11-7 Big South), and the Spartans reached the postseason (CIT) for the second time in the last three years. The Spartans’ season came to an end in the first round, as they fell 63-60 to Towson.

Late Night Snacks: Cal Poly, Tennessee advance in NCAA tournament

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Towson 63, USC Upstate 60

It isn’t often that a game ends on a half-court shot as time expires, but that was the case in Spartanburg as Four McGlynn’s shot gave Towson the win in the CIT first round matchup. Jerrelle Benimon led the way offensively for the Tigers with 20 points to go along with nine rebounds and three assists, helping Towson come back from a 13-point halftime deficit. USC Upstate’s Torrey Craig, who accounted for 14 points and 12 rebounds in the defeat, leaves the school ranked in the top five in Atlantic Sun history in both points (2,128) and rebounds (944).

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) Midwest No. 11 Tennessee 78, Midwest No. 11 Iowa 65

Cuonzo Martin’s Volunteers took control of this one in the extra session, outscoring the Hawkeyes 14-1 in overtime to advance into the 64-team bracket where they’ll play six-seed UMass on Friday. Jarnell Stokes finished the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds, but the key in the second half was the play of Josh Richardson. Richardson gave the Volunteers a needed spark in the second half, and his 17 points helped supplement the efforts of Stokes and Jordan McRae (20 points). As for Iowa what’s been a very tough week for the program came to a difficult ending in Dayton, and they end the season having lost seven of their final eight games.

2) Midwest No. 16 Cal Poly 81, Midwest No. 16 Texas Southern 69

Make it four in a row for a team that just a week ago was 10-19, having lost nine of their last 11 regular season games. Chris Eversley scored 19 points and David Nwaba added 17 for the Mustangs, who will play one-seed Wichita State in St. Louis on Friday. As a team Cal Poly shot 56.9% from the field, making 64% of their shots inside of the arc against a Texas Southern team that struggled mightily defensively. Aaric Murray led the Tigers with 38 points.

3) SMU 68, UC Irvine 54 

For teams who fall short of their goal to reach the NCAA tournament, the question before they begin postseason play in another event is what their motivation will be. For SMU, it took awhile to get going against Big West regular season champion UC Irvine. But after sleepwalking through much of the first half Larry Brown’s team got going in the second, putting together a 23-7 run to take control of the game. Cannen Cunningham scored 17 points and Ben Moore added 11 for SMU, which will host LSU in the second round.

STARRED

1) Rayvonte Rice (Illinois) 

Rice accounted for 28 points, eight rebounds and two assists in Illinois’ 66-62 win over Boston University in the first round of the Postseason NIT.

2) Charles Mann (Georgia) 

29 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field, five rebounds and three assists in the Bulldogs’ 63-56 win over Vermont in the Postseason NIT.

3) Aaric Murray (Texas Southern) 

Murray shot 14-for-23 from the field, scoring 38 points in the Tigers’ 81-69 loss to Cal Poly.

STRUGGLED

1) Texas Southern’s other four starters

While Murray proved to be a handful for Cal Poly, the Mustangs were able to keep his fellow starters under wraps. Those four players combined to score nine points on 3-for-13 shooting.

2) Aaron White and Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa)

Marble’s jumper with 18 seconds remaining forced overtime, but overall it was a rough night for Iowa’s leading scorers. Marble and White combined to shoot 4-for-20 from the field, with the former going 3-for-15.

3) Jonathan Williams (Toledo) 

Shot 0-for-8 from the field in the Rockets’ 66-59 loss at Southern Miss in a Postseason NIT first round matchup.

NOTABLES

  • Kenneth “Speedy” Smith’s basket with 2.2 seconds remaining gave Louisiana Tech an 89-88 win over Iona in the Postseason NIT. Jaron Johnson and Kenyon McNeail scored 15 points apiece to lead five Bulldogs in double figures.
  • Playing without Richard Solomon, who was forced to sit due to a concussion, California advanced in the Postseason NIT with a 77-64 win over Utah Valley. David Kravish finished with 14 points, ten rebounds and five blocks.
  • Ya Ya Anderson scored 23 points and Javonte Green and R.J. Price added 20 apiece to lead Radford to a 96-92 win at Oregon State in the CBI. The Highlanders scored 57 points in the first half, and their win ends the college career of Roberto Nelson (26 points).
  • Kourtney Roberson scored 14 points and grabbed ten rebounds in Texas A&M’s 59-43 win over Wyoming, with the Aggies limiting the Cowboys to 16 first-half points.
  • D.J. Newbill scored 19 points and Brandon Taylor added 14 as Penn State moved one game closer to the .500 mark with a 69-65 win over Hampton in the CBI.
  • Evan Conti scored 17 points to help lead Quinnipiac to a tight 69-68 win over in-state rival Yale in a CIT matchup. Ousmane Drame added 12 points and 17 rebounds for the winners.
  • Jarvis Williams scored 20 points and grabbed ten rebounds in Murray State’s 66-63 win at Missouri State in a CIT matchup. Steve Prohm’s Racers are now 19-11 on the season.

Towson beats USC Upstate on Four McGlynn’s half-court shot (VIDEO)

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Tournaments other than the NCAA tournament may not get much attention this season, but those lesser-known events can be a springboard into the next season for some teams. Towson, which finished second in the CAA this season, is looking to cap its season with a run in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and the same goes for USC Upstate, which hosted the Tigers Wednesday night.

The game would be decided on a half-court shot, as Four McGlynn’s heave went through the hoop just as time expired to give Towson the 63-60 victory. McGlynn can be seen releasing the ball at the two-second mark in the video above.

NBCSports.com’s 2013-2014 Mid-Major All-Americans

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists,click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Prior to delving into the All-Americans, it is important to identify who we are considering “mid-majors” this season, especially after realignment saw many teams jump from one conference to another during the offseason. The following conferences are not included in any mid-major discussion: AAC, Atlantic 10, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West. The WCC is still considered a mid-major league with the exclusion Brigham Young, Gonzaga, and St. Mary’s.

Oh, and Conference USA? You’ve been relegated.

(MORE: For NBCSports.com Mid-Major Power Rankings, click here)

MID-MAJOR ALL-AMERICAN  FIRST TEAM

G Jake Odum, Indiana State, Sr. (13.6 ppg, 4.5 rbg, 4.5 apg, 1.5 spg): Odum has been a fixture in the starting lineup for Indiana State dating back to his freshman year, when he led the Sycamores to the NCAA Tournament. He was named First Team All-MVC last season.

G Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette, Jr. (15.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.5 apg, 2.4 spg): Payton was a surprise addition to this summer’s U-19 national team, but for Sun Belt foes, he’s no secret. An athletic, 6-foot-3 combo-guard, Payton blew up nationally because he got spurned by the Chris Paul camp.

F Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, Sr. (13.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg): His numbers won’t blow you away, but his game will. After twice being named the NJCAA Player of the Year, Early burst onto the national scene during the NCAA Tournament leading Wichita to the Final Four, averaging 16.2 ppg and 7.6 rpg in the five games.

F Augustine Rubit, South Alabama, Sr. (19.4 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 1.2 bpg): Rubit has often flown under the radar playing for South Alabama, but his numbers are impossible to ignore. There aren’t many four year college basketball players out there that average a double-double for their career, but Rubit is on his way to doing just that despite coming from humble beginnings.

F Jerrelle Benimon, Towson, Sr. (17.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.9 bpg): Think John Thompson III wish Benimon didn’t transfer? The learning curve and development time is always longer for big men, and Benimon flourished last season at Towson after having to sitting out after transferring from Georgetown. His offensive game improved by leaps and bounds, and now Benimon is one of the top forwards in the country.

MID-MAJOR ALL-AMERICAN SECOND TEAM

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Travis Bader (AP photo)

G Travis Bader, Oakland, Sr. (22.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.0 apg): Bader has never seen a three-point shot he hasn’t liked. Not only does he shoot at a high percentage (40.4% from the perimeter for his career), but he is a volume shooter averaging just shy of 11 three-point attempts per game. Assuming this pace continues, he will set the all-time three-pointers made record; he needs 101 more. Bader has a very good chance at being the nation’s leading scorer this coming season.

G R.J. Hunter, Georgia State, So. (17.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.7 spg): With Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow and Devonta White running alongside in the backcourt, there’s no telling how big a year R.J. Hunter will have. The son of head coach Ron Hunter, R.J. burst onto the scene as a freshman to lead Georgia State and scoring and three-pointers made with 73.

G Anthony Ireland, Loyola Marymount, Sr. (20.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.7 spg): Often overshadowed by top players at the likes of Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, and BYU, Ireland is a scorer in the purest form. He was named to the First Team All-WCC the past two seasons, and will be a front runner for the Player of the Year award this season.

G/F Wesley Saunders, Harvard, Jr. (16.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.5 apg 1.8 spg): When Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry were forced to leave the program last season, Saunders was forced into a larger role and responded accordingly. He became Harvard’s top player after being not much more than a role player as a freshman.

F Javon McCrea, Buffalo, Sr. (18.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 2.6 bpg): If Bobby Hurley is to have success in his first season as Buffalo head coach, it will be because of Javon McCrea. The top returning scorer in the MAC, McCrea could have a 20 and 10 type of season.

MID-MAJOR ALL-AMERICAN THIRD-TEAM

G Corey Hawkins, UC Davis, Jr. (20.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.5 spg): The transfer from Arizona State immediately turned into UC Davis’ top player after sitting out the 2011-12 season. The son of NBA veteran Hersey Hawkins, Corey led the Big West in scoring last season.

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Taylor Braun (AP photo)

G Damion Lee, Drexel, Jr. (17.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.8 apg): Drexel underachieved last season, but Damion Lee certainly didn’t. If the Dragons are going to win the CAA this season, Lee will have to be the one to carry the load.

G Taylor Braun, North Dakota State, Sr. (15.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.5 spg): A mid-season foot injury to Braun derailed North Dakota State last season. Prior to the injury, the Bison were 16-3 and 7-0 in the Summit League, but during his absence they went 5-5 and never got their mojo back the rest of the season. When on the floor, Braun is one of the purest shooters around, and figures to have a big senior season for North Dakota State.

F Torrey Craig, USC Upstate, Sr. (17.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.9 apg): Craig has started all but six games for USC Upstate and has been an immediate impact player for Eddie Payne. He has led the Spartans in scoring for this first three seasons, and led the Atlantic Sun in scoring for the past two.

F/C Adjehi Baru, College of Charleston, So. (9.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg): The top rebounder in the Southern Conference last season, Baru will make his presence immediately felt in Charleston’s first year in the Colonial.

HONORABLE MENTION

G Sean Armand (Iona), G Billy Baron (Canisius), Jason Brickman (LIU Brooklyn), Rhamel Brown (Manhattan), F Murphy Burnatowski (Colgate), G Siyani Chambers (Harvard), G Brett Comer (Florida Gulf Coast), G Johnny Dee (San Diego), G D.J. Irving (Boston University), F David Laury (Iona), G Rian Pearson (Toledo), G Devon Saddler (Delaware), G Kenneth Smith (Louisiana Tech), G Bernard Thompson (Florida Gulf Coast), F Alan Williams (UC Santa Barbara)