Rock Hill, S.C. – Winthrop men’s basketball is favored to repeat as Big South Conference champions as the league released the annual preseason poll and all-conference awards on Tuesday as part of Big South Virtual Media Day.
Winthrop received 21-of-24 first-place votes, as it is favored to win the league for the first time since the 2016-17 season. It is the 8th time the Eagles have been voted the preseason favorite since joining the Big South. The Eagles return three starters and 11 total letter-winners from the 2019-20 squad that was 24-10.
UNC Asheville (two first-place votes) finished in second with 214 points — its highest ranking in the Big South preseason poll since being selected the favorite in 2017-18. Charleston Southern claimed third with 192 points, while Gardner-Webb was fourth with 188 points and the remaining first-place vote. USC Upstate finished in fifth at 149 –- the Spartans’ top preseason billing since joining the Big South in 2018-19, while Radford landed in the sixth spot with 127 points. High Point followed in seventh (117 points), Longwood was eighth (111) and last year’s Tournament Runner-Up Hampton claimed ninth (92). Campbell totaled 78 points for 10th and Presbyterian College finished 11th (55 points).
In addition to being the favorite to repeat, the Eagles landed two players on the preseason All-Big South First Team. Senior Chandler Vaudrin and sophomore D.J. Burns Jr. were voted to the preseason first team as both played a vital role in Winthrop’s run to the Big South title in 2019-20.
Vaudrin was a 2019-20 All-Big South Second Team selection after averaging 9.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 5.8 apg. The senior guard was second in the Big South in assists per game and ranked 26th nationally and his 191 total assists were 16th nationally. Vaudrin’s 191 assists are second most in a single-season by a Winthrop player and most by any Eagle since the program’s move to the NCAA Div. I level.
Burns Jr. was voted the 2019-20 Big South Conference Freshman of the Year and also an All-Big South Second Team selection. Came off the bench in 17 games, including the Big South title game in which he led the Eagles with 16 points in the win over Hampton. Burns Jr. finished second on the team with 11.9 ppg and led the Big South in field goal percentage (.583). His efforts on the season also earned him a selection on the Kyle Macy Freshman All-America Team.
Vaudrin and Burns Jr. are the first Winthrop pair to be named preseason first team since Keon Johnson and Xavier Cooks in 2016-17.
Phlandrous Fleming Jr., Charleston Southern, Sr., G/F (Athens, Ga.)
D.J. Burns Jr., Winthrop, R-Soph., F/C (Rock Hill, S.C.)
DeVon Baker, UNC Asheville, Jr., G (Dayton, Ohio)
Chandler Vaudrin, Winthrop, R-Sr., G (Uniontown, Ohio)
Jaheam Cornwall, Gardner-Webb, Sr., G (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Tommy Bruner, USC Upstate, Soph., G (Columbia, S.C.)
LJ Thorpe, UNC Asheville, R-Jr., F (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
John-Michael Wright, High Point , Soph., G (Fayetteville, N.C.)
Everette Hammond, USC Upstate, Jr., G (Silver Spring, Md.)
Kareem Reid, Gardner-Webb, Soph., F (Queens, N.Y.)