South Alabama is picked to finish third in the Sun Belt Conference in 2022-23, in preseason voting by league coaches announced Monday.
Richie Riley’s Jaguars received 150 points and one first-place vote, leaving them behind Louisiana (190), Texas State (162) and ahead of James Madison (149) and Georgia State (127). The Ragin’ Cajuns received 10 of 14 first-place votes, with the Jaguars, Bobcats, Dukes and Panthers all receiving one.
Marshall (122), Appalachian State (120), Coastal Carolina (100), Old Dominion (93) and Troy (76) rounded out the preseason Top 10. Georgia Southern (69) was picked 11th, ahead of Arkansas State (48), Southern Miss (34) and Louisiana-Monroe (30).
South Alabama center Kevin Samuel, a transfer from Florida Gulf Coast, was picked to the preseason All-Sun Belt Conference first team. The Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Year last season, the 6-foot-11 Samuel averaged 11.5 points per game and ranked ninth in the country in blocks (2.9 per game) and 20th in rebounding (9.7 per game).
Joining Samuel on the preseason All-Sun Belt first team were Louisiana forward Jordan Brown, Texas State guard Mason Harrell, Marshall guard Taevion Kinsey and James Madison guard Vado Morse. Brown, who averaged 15.3 points per game in 2021-22, was chosen preseason Sun Belt Player of the Year.
South Alabama guard Greg Parham earned a spot on the preseason second-team. Parham missed all of last season with a back injury, but averaged 18.4 points per game in 2020-21 at VMI.
Parham was joined on the preseason All-Sun Belt second team by Appalachian State guard Donovan Gregory, Southern Miss forward Felipe Haase, Louisiana forward Kobe Julien and Coastal Carolina center Essam Mostafa.
Troy forward Zay Williams was picked to the All-Sun Belt third team, along with Marshall guard Kamdyn Curfman, Arkansas State guard Caleb Fields, ULM forward Nika Metskhvarishvili and Marshall guard Andrew Taylor. Williams, a former star at Birmingham’s Parker High School, averaged 7.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for the Trojans last season.
South Alabama opens the 2022-23 season at home Nov. 9 vs. Mobile, then travels to New Mexico Nov. 11 before hosting Alabama on Nov. 15. The Jaguars went 21-12 last season, reaching the semifinals of The Basketball Classic tournament.