MACON, Ga. - North Florida enters the 2015-16 Atlantic Sun Men's Basketball season as the favorites to repeat after garnering first place in both preseason coaches' and media polls, announced Thursday by the league office.
The defending regular season and tournament champions secured seven of the eight first place votes in the coaches' poll, while picking up 24 of the 31 first place votes in the media poll. FGCU came in second in both polls, as the Eagles collected the final first place vote in the coaches' poll and six first place nods in the media poll. League newcomer NJIT earned the final first place vote in the media poll.
NJIT and Lipscomb split third and fourth place in each poll, with the Highlanders picked third in the coaches poll and the Bisons picked third in the media poll. Jacksonville and USC Upstate followed in fifth and sixth in the coaches' poll. Kennesaw State and Stetson were tied for seventh to round out the selections by the league's head coaches. In the media poll, the Spartans and Dolphins flipped positions, with KSU coming in seventh and Stetson eighth.
The Ospreys also collected both individual preseason honors as Beau Beech was voted Preseason Player of the Year and Demarcus Daniels was picked to repeat as the A-Sun's Defensive Player of the Year. Both were selected to the 10-man Preseason All-Conference team; read more about the selections below.
Atlantic Sun Preseason All-Conference Team:
(* - Denotes unanimous selection)
- Beau Beech, North Florida*: The Preseason Player of the Year returns after being first team All-Conference last season. Beech was North Florida's leading scorer in A-Sun play at 15.9 PPG and ranked second in the A-Sun with 89 made three-pointers. He reached double-figures in 23 games, including five games with 20 or more points to help the Ospreys win their first-ever conference regular season and tournament titles and an NCAA appearance.
- Julian DeBose, FGCU*: DeBose is FGCU's leading returning scorer at 11.6 points per game. His 43.2 field goal percentage ranked in the top-15 in the conference a year ago. This past summer he was part of Team USA, winning gold at the World University Games.
- Kori Babineaux, Jacksonville*: The 2014-15 A-Sun Newcomer of the Year and second team All-Conference selection returns for the Dolphins this season. Led the team in scoring last year with 14.8 PPG, while scoring 16.3 PPG in conference play. Last season, he was the only player in the A-Sun to rank in the top-10 in scoring, assists, steals and field goal percentage.
- Josh Williams, Lipscomb*: A 2014-15 first team All-Conference selection returns for the Bisons after averaging 20.2 PPG in league play last season. He finished the season shooting 48 percent from the field, including 39.2 percent from behind the arc. Scored 20 or more points in 12 games last season and was a two-time A-Sun Player of the Week.
- Damon Lynn, NJIT*: Played and started in all 33 games for the Highlanders last season and averaged 17.5 PPG. Garnered AP Honorable Mention All-America honors and ranked second in Division I with 126 made three-pointers. Set single-season school records for threes made and assists (123).
- Dallas Moore, North Florida*: The junior guard from St. Petersburg, Fla. is a 2014-15 first team All-Conference returning starter for the Ospreys. Finished last season as UNF's leading scorer at 15.8 PPG, third most in the A-Sun. Averaged 3.7 assists per game during the season, including 4.4 in league play. Finished season with 28 double-figure scoring games, while scoring 20 or more points in 13 games.
- Yonel Brown, Kennesaw State: The team's leading returning scorer averaged 15.2 points per game last season, third most in the A-Sun. Set the KSU single-season record shooting 90 percent from the free throw line. In 10 Owl wins, he averaged 21.1 PPG, including two 30-point performances. Set a new KSU Division I era record with 36 points against Thomas University last season.
- Winfield Willis, NJIT: Started and played in all 33 games for NJIT last season. Averaged 12.2 points per game. while making 59 three-pointers on the season. Reached double-figures in 21 games and NJIT went 16-5 in those games. Shot 6-7 from behind the arc in NJIT's upset win over No. 16/17 Michigan.
- DeMarcus Daniels, North Florida: The 2014-15 A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year returns as the Preseason pick by the coaches to repeatthat honor. Was named the A-Sun Tournament MVP last season. Grabbed 5.9 rebounds per game, which ranked in the top-10 in the A-Sun. Shot 51.1 percent from the field in conference play. Swatted a UNF single-season record 55 shots last season to surpass 100 career blocks.
- Chris Davenport, North Florida: Led the Ospreys in rebounding and scoring last year on their way to an NCAA Tournament appearance. Averaged 11.3 PPG and 6.5 RPG last season. Made 54.7 percent of field goals in conference play, which ranked second in the league. Posted double-figures in 20 games for the Ospreys.
For the fifth-straight year, the Atlantic Sun took to social media to poll the fans for the conference preseason superlative awards. North Florida's Beau Beech took home the Fan-Voted Preseason Player of the Year with 697 votes, while his teammate Demarcus Daniels earned the Fan-Voted Preseason Defensive Player with 660 ballots cast in his favor.