ATHENS — The Concord University men’s basketball team has been voted to finish sixth in the Mountain East Conference, according to a vote of the league’s coaches in the preseason poll that was unveiled recently. Falling just behind the tie for fourth with Notre Dame and WV State, the Lions will face a tough schedule this year with a non-conference exhibition game against Kent State to start the season before returning home to start the 22-game MEC schedule on Nov. 23 against the University of Charleston, ranked second in the poll. With the exception of a Tuesday night game with Fairmont State at home December 10, all MEC games will either be played on Wednesday or Saturday in 2019-20. The other exhibition game is a Division I game in December when Concord takes on Akron.
The Mountain Lions collected their second 20-win season in the last four years as they finished 20-10. It was the first 20-win season for head coach Todd May in his three previous seasons at CU. May also guided Concord to its second consecutive trip to MEC Tournament Semifinals.
The Maroon and Gray is tasked with replacing nearly 50 points per game with two-time All-American and 2017-18 NCAA Division II Scoring Champion Tommy Bolte now playing professionally in Spain and guard Jair Rodgers transferring out of the program. Last year was a season of overtime games for Concord as the Mountain Lions were involved in four overtime games that totaled six overtimes. Additionally, CU was 8-4 in games decided by six points or less.
Although CU has lost a few players, the Lions have a good troupe returning to the paint this year with junior guard/forward Malik Johnson, who averaged 10.1 points per game and shot 46.2 percent from the field last year. Also returning is senior guard Trey Brisco. Brisco started in 60 straight games last year and averaged 8.7 points and 5.5 rebounds with a season high 21 points coming in the MEC Quarterfinal win against Charleston. Senior forward Simun Kovac, junior forward David Bea Mulumbo, sophomore guards Brandon Kennedy and Seth Brown also return this year, and senior guard Martin Kelly Jr. and freshman guard Gavin Pruett come off the injured list to fight for the maroon and grey this season.
With the departure of former assistant coach Adam Blake to the University of North Georgia, May hired former Akron team manager Trent Howard, who has already coached the CU men’s golf team to a championship this fall. May and his staff welcome nine new faces to the program for 2019-20. Three transfers: Junior forward Liam Evans (Saginaw Valley State), sophomore guard Kam Harris (Notre Dame College) and sophomore forward Cole Meadows (Lynchburg College) make their way to Athens along with six freshmen. The first-year players are forward Cooper Donaldson from Jackson, Ohio, guard Cade Fix from Princeton, guard Dorian Groggs from Webster Springs, forward Jake Hamilton out of Summersville,, guard Ethan Heller hailing from Thornville, Ohio, and guard R.J. Hood from Mullens.
The Mountain Lions team will get their chance to shine this weekend at the IRMC/Hilton Garden Inn Classic in Indiana, Penn where they will face off against Pitt-Johnstown on Friday night at 9 p.m and Indiana University of Penn. on Saturday at 6 p.m.