CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern held its first official preseason practice on Friday afternoon at the Buc Dome. Led by head coach Barclay Radebaugh, CSU returns three starters from last year's club and will look for contributions from a number of newcomers as it vies to return toward the top of the Big South Conference.
Radebaugh has enjoyed working with his squad this summer, and is looking forward to seeing the personality of the team continue to take shape. The Bucs tip off the season at Davidson on Friday, Nov. 10.
"We feel like we've had back-to-back really good recruiting classes and that's gonna pay off," Radebaugh said. "We won four of our last five, we were good in February and we want to carry that momentum into the season. We feel good about our team – our talent level, our length and our size. We'll have an opportunity over these next six weeks to grow and develop into what I feel has a chance to be a really good team."
As the Bucs' elder statesman, senior forward Javis Howard will hope to build on a strong junior year. Howard led the Big South in offensive rebounds last season, and continued to develop as a low post scorer. Along with returning key pieces Christian Keeling and Cortez Mitchell, Howard has noticed the effect a group of ten newcomers has had on the club dating back to the summer.
"The thing I love about the young guys and the new guys is their attitude is great," Howard said. "They just want to learn. If they mess up in practice, instead of moping, they just get right back to it and go hard. The biggest thing is the attitude because it makes it easier for our leaders to just teach them and keep growing.
Keeling back after huge freshman year
Christian Keeling comes off one of the most productive freshman seasons in CSU and Big South history. Keeling was runner-up for Big South Freshman of the Year honors after setting a CSU freshman scoring record with 539 points. He was named Big South Freshman of the Week seven times; the most by anyone in at least the last 13 years. Keeling was the only freshman in the country to lead his team in scoring and rebounding, pace all league freshmen in those categories and rank top-ten league-wide in each.
Newcomers poised to make immediate impact
Ten newcomers, including six true freshmen, help fill out CSU's roster. Among the new faces expected to play pivotal roles are freshman wing Phlandrous Fleming Jr. and junior forward Travis McConico. Fleming was the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Georgia Class 5A Player of the Year at Cedar Shoals High School (Athens) last season. McConico will look to step into the important 'stretch four' role for CSU after knocking down 93 three-pointers at Florida State College at Jacksonville last year.