The Big South Conference released its Preseason Poll at the conference's Media Day on Tuesday as the Liberty men's basketball team is picked third in the Big South. The Flames duo, Ryan Kemrite and Georgie Pacheco Ortiz, were also named Second Team Preseason All-Big South.
Two selections in the All-Big South's preseason teams are the most for Liberty since the 2013-14 season (John Caleb Sanders, Davon Marshall) as Kemrite is one of four seniors to make an all-conference team. Kemrite looks to build off an exceptional redshirt junior campaign where he was named Second Team All-Big South as well as to the Big South All-Academic team. The native of Conroe, Texas led Liberty in scoring last year, averaging 13.2 points per game, shooting 48.7 percent from the field.
Pacheco-Ortiz is one of the bright young stars in the conference, being one of three sophomores to be tabbed as an all-conference selection. As a freshman, Pacheco-Ortiz excelled as the floor general, posting the best assist-to-turnover ratio during conference games with a 3.4 ratio. For the season, Pacheco-Ortiz averaged 8.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.6 assists while leading the team in total minutes played.
Entering its third year under McKay, Liberty is coming off a 21-win season where the Flames finished third in the Big South. It was Liberty's first 20-win season since 2008-09, during McKay's first stint at Liberty. The Flames return a wealth of talent in four of their five starters this year. Three of Liberty's five starters last season were underclassmen in Lovell Cabbil, Myo Baxter-Bell and Pacheco-Ortiz. Of the 66.6 points that Liberty averaged on offense, the Flames return 49.6 of those points. The Flames will also rely on their senior leadership with a pair of seniors in Kemrite and Ezra Talbert. Big man transfer, Scottie James, will be eligible to play and Caleb Homesley will return from injury. In addition to its returners, Liberty adds six newcomers to its squad from four different states.
Picked to finish first in the preseason poll, the UNC Asheville Bulldogs received 23 of the possible 29 first place votes. The reigning Big South champion, Winthrop, was picked in second place, receiving three first place votes.
For the full Big South release, click here.
Big South Preseason Poll (First Place Votes)
UNC Asheville (23)
Big South Preseason All-Conference Team
First Team Pos. Cl. School
Chris Clemons G Jr. Campbell
Xavier Cooks G/F Sr. Winthrop
Ahmad Thomas F Sr. UNC Asheville
MaCio Teague G So. UNC Asheville
Christian Keeling G So. Charleston Southern
Second Team Pos. Cl. School
Ed Polite Jr. F Jr. Radford
Ryan Kemrite G/F R-Sr. Liberty
David Efianayi G R-Jr. Gardner-Webb
Kevin Vannatta G Sr. UNC Asheville
Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz G So. Liberty