The Radford University men’s basketball team was picked to finish first in the 2018-19 Big South Preseason Poll with senior forward Ed Polite Jr. being named to the Big South Preseason All-Conference First Team and redshirt sophomore guard Carlik Jones being named to the Big South Preseason All-Conference Second team, the league office announced at Media Day on Tuesday.
In a poll consisting of one head coach and two media members from each program, the Highlanders received 28 of a possible 33 first-place votes. Winthrop and Hampton, who checked in at second and third in the poll respectively, each received two first-place votes while Gardner-Webb accounted for the final one.
Posting a school record 23 wins a season ago, Radford won the Big South Tournament in dramatic fashion and earned a bid to the 2018 NCAA Tournament where it went on to defeat LIU Brooklyn, 71-61, for the first NCAA Tournament victory in program history.
Due to the team’s success, head coach Mike Jones was named Big South Coach of the Year and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 3 Coach of the Year. He was also a finalist for the 2018 Ben Jobe Award which recognizes the nation’s top NCAA Division I minority head coach.
Polite Jr., did it all for the Highlanders during the 2017-18 season, leading the team in points (13.3), rebounds (7.9), steals (1.9) and minutes played (32.1) per game. He also set career-highs for field goals (166), 3-point field goals (22) and free throw percentage (72.7%).
The Lanham, Md., native made history several times over last year. First, he became the fifth player in program history to record 500 career rebounds and 100 career blocks. Polite, Jr., later became the third player in program history, as well as the ninth player in Big South history, to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 100 assists, 100 blocks and 100 steals in his career.
He became the 15th different player in Radford history to be named to the All-Big South First Team, was named to the NABC All-District 3 Second Team and earned a spot on the VaSID All-State Second Team.
Jones enjoyed a breakout season in 2017-18, winning Big South Freshman of the Year and earning spots on the Big South All-Freshman team and Honorable Mention All-Conference list.
Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Jones averaged 11.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He broke the Radford program record and tied the Big South Conference record with seven Big South Freshman of the Week awards.
2018-19 Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll: 1) Radford, 2) Winthrop, 3) Hampton, 4) Campbell, 5) Charleston Southern, 6) Gardner-Webb, 7) High Point, 8) UNC Asheville, 9) Presbyterian College, 10) Longwood, 11) USC Upstate.
2018-19 Men’s Basketball Preseason All-Conference Teams: First-Team- Chris Clemons, Campbell (Preseason Player of the Year); Ed Polite, Jr., Radford; Christian Keeling, Charleston Southern; David Efianayi, Gardner-Webb; and Jermaine Marrow, Hampton.
Second-Team- Carlik Jones, Radford; Jahaad Proctor, High Point; Josh Ferguson, Winthrop; Isaiah Walton, Longwood and Deion Holmes, USC Upstate.
Fans will get their first look at Polite Jr., Jones and the Highlanders on Friday, Nov. 2 when they host Washington and Lee for a preseason exhibition at the Dedmon Center. Radford then kicks off the regular season on Tuesday, Nov. 6 with a home game against Davis & Elkins.