Graphics courtesy of RU Athletics
Big South basketball representatives met with members of the media on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., and preseason polls predict Radford University’s men and women’s programs will finish in second place.
The results of the poll, which was voted on by the head coaches of each team in the league as well as members of the media, gave the Highlanders 132 points overall. The RU men received one first-place vote, eight second-place votes and five third-place votes to just outpace Winthrop, which tallied 130 points.
The reigning Big South regular season and tournament champions, UNC Asheville, received 16 of the 19 possible first-place votes. Winthrop and High Point accounted for the final two.
On the women’s side of the room, the Lady Highlanders were selected to finish tied for second with Presbyterian among the nine Big South institutions. High Point owns the top spot in the league’s preseason poll with eight first place votes while Presbyterian also received one first place vote.
Radford’s second-place selection is their highest preseason ranking since also being selected to finish second prior to the 2020-21 season. Radford has now been placed in the top-five of the Big South preseason poll in seven of their last 10 preseason polls.
The 2023-24 season is quickly approaching and will tip-off at home on November 6 against Concord at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.
The Lady High’s sophomore Ashlyn Traylor-Walker was named to the preseason first team.
Traylor-Walker had a record-breaking first season with Radford appearing in all 31 games and starting in 28 totaling 885 minutes. Her 405 points and 13.1 ppg were best on the team and ranked top-five in the Big South. The newcomer became the first freshman at Radford to total 400 points and 100 assists in their debut season.
Traylor-Walker was also named Big South Freshman of the Week seven times, a program record and second-most in Big South history. She is the reigning Big South Freshman of the Year and was also named the VaSID Freshman of the Year.
Smith racked up awards at the end of last season, being named to the NABC All-District 3 Second Team, VaSID All-State Second Team and All-Big South Second Team. The dynamic guard played in all 36 games, averaging 13.9 points on 40.4% shooting, as well as 3.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals per game.
Antoine played in and started 31 games for Radford last season, averaging 11.4 points per game on 47.9% shooting and a 42.1% three-point clip en route to a All-Big South Honorable Mention accolade. The highly touted wing added 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per contests while swiping a team-high 52 steals.
This year marks the first time Radford has been represented on the preseason all-conference teams since Carlik Jones (First Team) and Travis Fields Jr. (Second Team) were voted on prior to the 2018-19 season. It is also the first time two Highlanders have made the First Team since Art Parakhouski and Joey Lynch-Flohr did it in 2009-10.
Now entering the program’s third season under Head Coach Darris Nichols, Radford is coming off a 21-win season in 2022-23. Last year’s campaign featured a third-place finish in the regular season and a trip to the Big South Tournament semifinals.