In the first season without VCU, the Drexel Dragons are picked to win the men's basketball championship.
Drexel, which returns all but one player from last year's 29-7 team, has been picked to win the CAA men's basketball championship in 2012-13 according to a vote of the league's coaches, media relations directors and media members. The results of the poll were announced during Tuesday's CAA Basketball Media Day at Champps-Pentagon Row in Arlington, Va.
The Dragons were followed in the voting by Delaware, George Mason, Old Dominion and Northeastern. Picked sixth was James Madison, followed by Hofstra, Georgia State, William & Mary, Towson and UNCW.
Drexel welcomes back four starters from a squad that set a school record for victories (29), captured its first CAA regular-season title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT. Leading the Dragons is junior point guard Frantz Massenat, who earned first-team All-CAA honors in 2012 after scoring a team-high 13.7 points per game and leading the league in assists (4.8 apg). He'll be joined in the backcourt by 2012 CAA Rookie of the Year Damion Lee (12.0 ppg) and seniors Chris Fouch (10.8 ppg) and Derrick Thomas (8.1 ppg). Drexel also has experience in the post with senior Daryl McCoy (4.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and junior Dartaye Ruffin (5.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg).
Delaware returns four starters from its 18-14 squad that earned a postseason berth for the first time since 2000. The Blue Hens feature one of the league's top inside-outside combinations in senior forward Jamelle Hagins and junior guard Devon Saddler, who both made the All-CAA second team in 2012. Hagins scored 12.4 ppg and ranked fifth in the nation in rebounding (11.1 rpg) and ninth in blocked shots (3.0 bpg), while Saddler was the CAA's second-leading scorer with 18.8 ppg. Senior Josh Brinkley (8.7 ppg) is a returning starter at forward and guards Jarvis Threatt (10.7 ppg) and Kyle Anderson (8.9 ppg) are coming off impressive rookie seasons.
Two starters and several key reserves are back at George Mason, which is coming off a 24-9 campaign a year ago. The Patriots' top returnee is junior guard Sherrod Wright, who contributed 9.6 ppg as the team's sixth man. Joining him in the backcourt are junior point guard Bryon Allen (7.5 ppg) and three-point shooting threat Vertrail Vaughns (8.8 ppg). Junior Jonathan Arledge (4.3 ppg) and sophomore Erik Copes (3.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg) are expected to challenge for starting roles and Mason should get a boost from the return of junior Johnny Williams, who missed last season due to injury.
Old Dominion will look to extend its streak of eight consecutive postseason appearances. Senior forward Nick Wright (8.4 ppg) and junior guard Donte Hill (7.6 ppg) are returning starters from last year's 22-14 team. Northeastern will build around a core of four returning starters. Leading the Huskies will be senior guards Jonathan Lee (14.5 ppg) and Joel Smith (12.9 ppg) along with CAA All-Rookie team selection Quincy Ford (11.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg).
Drexel's Massenat was voted as the CAA Preseason Player of the Year. He is joined on the preseason All-CAA first team by Delaware's Hagins and Saddler, Drexel's Lee, Northeastern's Lee and UNCW senior forward Keith Rendleman, who contributed 15.3 ppg and 10.0 rpg last season to earn first-team All-CAA accolades.
Voted to the preseason second team were Northeastern's Ford, Mason's Wright, James Madison senior guard A.J. Davis (15.9 ppg), William & Mary sophomore guard Marcus Thornton (11.1 ppg) and Georgia State junior guard Devonta White (12.9 ppg).
2012-13 CAA Men's Basketball Predicted Order of Finish
3. George Mason
4. Old Dominion
6. James Madison
8. Georgia State
9. William & Mary
2012-13 CAA Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Teams
CAA Preseason Player of the Year: Frantz Massenat, Drexel
Honorable Mention: Chris Fouch, Sr., G, Drexel; DeShawn Painter, Sr., C, Old Dominion; Joel Smith, Sr., G, Northeastern; Jarvis Threatt, So., G, Delaware; Nick Wright, Sr., F, Old Dominion