By Marty Gordon
Radford University’s basketball programs were picked to finish in the middle of the pack as the Big South Conference released its preseason polls Wednesday during Media Days in Charlotte, N.C.
High Point University and Gardner-Webb University on the women’s side, along with the Longwood University men’s basketball team, have been chosen as the favorites in the Big South Conference’s annual preseason polls for the 2022-23 season.
For the first time since 2009-10 and just the second time in league history, two schools tied for the top spot in the women’s poll. High Point, the 2021 Big South Champion, and Gardner-Webb each finished with 92 points from the voting panel.
HPU received five of the 10 first-place votes while GWU collected four top plaudits. The Panthers return five starters and 10 letterwinners from 2021-22, and the Runnin’ Bulldogs have four starters back along with 11 letterwinners. High Point is the preseason favorite for the second consecutive year and the third time overall while Gardner-Webb is in the top spot for the first time.
Receiving the remaining first-place vote, Campbell was voted third in the women’s poll.
Radford placed fourth in the poll with 55 points, just ahead of UNC Asheville’s 52 points.
Defending men’s champion Longwood is the preseason favorite for the first time as the voting panel of head coaches and media bestowed 16 first-place votes and 195 total points upon the Lancers.
Winthrop followed in second place with 170 points and one first-place vote, followed by UNC Asheville in the third spot with 159 points and two first-place nods. Gardner-Webb landed in the fourth position with 136 points with High Point in fifth-place with 89 points.
Campbell and Radford tied for sixth with 88 points each,
For the third straight year, Radford did not have a player listed on the men’s or women’s preseason team list.
UNC Asheville senior forward Drew Pember (Knoxville, Tenn.) was voted the 2022-23 Big South Conference Men’s Basketball Preseason Player of the Year by the league’s head coaches and media panel. Pember is the fifth UNC Asheville student-athlete to be voted Preseason Player of the Year, the first one since 2011-12. In his first season in a Bulldog uniform in 2021-22, Pember was voted the Big South’s Defensive Player of the Year and was named First-Team All-Conference.
Gardner-Webb junior forward Alasia Smith (Johnson City, Tenn.) was voted the 2022-23 Big South Conference Women’s Basketball Preseason Player of the Year by the league’s head coaches. Smith is the first player from Gardner-Webb to receive the conference’s top preseason honor.