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Smith Voted BSC Preseason Player of the Year

October 14, 2008  Concord, N.C.  RSS
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Big South Preseason Player of the Year Anthony Smith drives past last year's Big South Player of the Year, Arizona Reid of High Point.  Reid was voted last year's Preseason Player of the Year, prior to his senior season.

Big South Preseason Player of the Year Anthony Smith drives past last year's Big South Player of the Year, Arizona Reid of High Point. Reid was voted last year's Preseason Player of the Year, prior to his senior season.

One-one-One Audio Interview with Ritchie McKay

Senior guard Anthony Smith was named Big South Preseason Men's Basketball Player of the Year, it was announced at Tuesday's 2008-09 Basketball Tip-Off Media Luncheon, held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Concord, N.C. In addition, the Flames were picked to finish fourth, in the conference preseason poll.

Smith (Plano, Texas) was the only player in the nation during the 2008 season to attempt at least 200 three-point field goals and succeed on at least 50 percent of his field goal attempts (51.5) and 40 percent of his three-point field goal attempts (41.0). He was one of five players in the nation to accomplish the same feat while attempting at least 100 three-point field goals. The other players were Mario Chalmers (Kansas), Lee Cummard (BYU), Malik Hairston (Oregon) and James Harden (Arizona State). Smith led the Flames in scoring last season (16.0 ppg) and is the second-leading returning scorer in the Big South Conference.

2008 was a solid campaign for Smith, as he broke Liberty records for three-point field goals (84) and three-point field goal attempts (205), while setting the fifth-best season success rate from beyond the arc (41.0) He also became the 20th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point plateau, but only the eighth to do so during in the Liberty Division I era. Smith has also earned several other preseason accolades, including being named Big South Preseason Player of the Year by the Sporting News and Blue Ribbon, as well as being a "Candidate to Consider" for the Wooden Award.

Anthony Smith (left) and Megan Frazee (right) both represent Liberty as the men's and women's Big South Preseason Players of the Year.  Smith and Frazee took part in Media Day 2008 in Concord, N.C. on Tuesday.
"I am really happy for Anthony," said head men's basketball coach Ritchie McKay. "He has put a ton of effort and hard work into his game this summer and the previous spring. We are the benefactors of him being more confident on the basketball court. The accolade is a compliment to his teammates and the program when the league, the coaches and the media recognize you as preseason player of the year. We are certainly elated Anthony is representing Liberty University and I couldn't think of a better person who is deserving of this honor."

The Flames, who return one starter (Smith), and four total scholarship players this season, were tabbed to finish fourth in the preseason poll. Liberty received two first-place votes, as seven different schools received notches as a possibility to be the league's top finisher.

"I think the conference race is wide open," said McKay. "With that said, you have to pick Winthrop as the league champions because of what they have accomplished in this conference over the last decade. Yet, I think there are teams that certainly can make a move and have a season worthy of dethroning the reigning champion."

The Flames finished in fourth place a season ago, giving Liberty its first non-losing season in four years. McKay enters his second Liberty season with the loss of four starters and a total of eight lettermen off last year's 16-16 squad. A Basketball Times Top 50 recruiting class, the first in Liberty or Big South history, is a remedy for those losses.

Winthrop was picked to finish first, followed by a closely contested vote for second place. Radford nudged Big South newcomer Gardner-Webb by one point. High Point was picked to finish fifth behind Liberty, while Charleston Southern, VMI, Coastal Carolina, UNC Asheville and Presbyterian round out the remainder of the poll.

The Flames will start official full-team practices Friday, which is the universal NCAA start date. The Flames open up the 2008-09 season at home against Montreat on Nov. 14, the first day the NCAA allows games to be played. Tip-off is slated for 9:15 p.m., or 25 minutes after the conclusion of the women's hoops Preseason WNIT contest with VCU.

2008-09 Big South Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team

Anthony Smith, Liberty - Preseason Player of the Year
Chavis Holmes, VMI
Omar Carter, Charleston Southern
Grayson Flittner, Gardner-Webb
Joey Lynch-Flohr, Radford

2008-09 Big South Men's Basketball Preseason Poll

Rk Team (first-place votes)
1. Winthrop (9)
2. Radford (7)
3. Gardner-Webb (3)
4. Liberty (2)
5. High Point (1)
6. Charleston Southern (1)
7. VMI (1)
8. Coastal Carolina
9. UNC Asheville
10. Presbyterian