The Big South looks a lot different from this time last year. Four new coaches have taken over in the conference and with that some players have moved on to other schools. Our list of top ten players will have some familiar names, along with some players ready to peak this year in twelve team conference.
10. Rodney Glasgow, VMI: Stan Okoye was the Big South's premier scorer for years and certainly left a void at VMI, but a big part of Okoye's production was Rodney Glasgow and Glasgow may be ready to step into the spotlight. A year ago Glasgow nearly 12 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds per game. His production went through the roof in the biggest games of the season in the Big South tournament, as Glasgow dropped 22 points on Longwood and then 31 points against Charleston Southern in the conference semifinals.
9. Davon Marshall, Liberty: John Caleb Sanders and Davon Marshall finally learned how to play in the same backcourt together late last season and it reaped impressive dividends for the Liberty Flames, including a Big South Championship. Davon Marshall established himself as the conference's premier three point threat at the Big South Tournament as he went 17 for 24 from behind the arc. After averaging 14 points a year ago Marshall could become more of a role player as the Flames get production out of their frontcourt rotation and Antwan Burris returns, but expect the senior to still get his numbers from downtown and also hit some big shots.
8. Donta Harper, Gardner-Webb: If first year head coach Tim Craft is going to continue the positive momentum Chris Holtmann put together in Boiling Springs, North Carolina then he's going to need a lot of production from junior Donta Harper and Texas A&M transfer Naji Hibbert. Hibbert is a bit of a wild card, but we know what Harper brings to the table and that's nearly 13 points per game and 5 rebounds a year ago when he was not the first scoring option for the Bulldogs a year ago. Harper should be more of a primary option this year and should put up impressive numbers. The only downside to Harper's game last year is that he disappeared in some big games. Charleston Southern shut him down twice, Charleston kept him at bay in Bracketbusters, and Harper totally went AWOL against Liberty in the Big South tournament when he finished the game with 4 points and 1 rebound.
7. Javonte Green, Radford: Last year was a breakout sophomore campaign for Javonte Green. Despite only being 6'4, the Alberta, Virginia native snagged 8 rebounds per game and also posted nearly 15 points per game. Green even had a stretch in February where he scored 20 or more points in four out five games. Mike Jones has been on a streneous rebuilding process over the past couple of years and if dividends are going to start to be paid off for the Highlanders then it will be large in part because of Green's production.
6. DJ Covington, VMI: Covington is an interesting player to keep an eye on. He has the skill-set of a traditional big man while playing Duggar Baucom's nontraditional, up-tempo style of play. Covington averaged 15 points per game last year while shooting 55 percent from the field. He's even more of a presence on the other end of the court where he was named Big South Defensive Player of the Year after averaging 7 rebound, 3 blocks, and over 1 steal per game. Covington will remain the conference's premier defensive player in the paint, but will his offensive production go down without the threat of Stan Okoye on the outside?
5. Tristan Carey, Longwood: TT Carey was likely the biggest snub when it came award time in the Big South a year ago. The LaSalle transfer ended the year averaging nearly 16 points and 5 rebounds per game. He also lead the conference in steals by averaging 2.2 per game. Carey really came alive late in the year during a three game stretch where he scored 94 points, including 41 points in a win over rival Liberty. Carey also is a threat from three where he tied the Lancers single-game three point record (7) versus Florida A&M early in the year, and then broke it with 8 against Liberty. Carey will now be in first year coach Jayson Gee's up-tempo defense and could see both his offensive and defensive production go up on both ends of the court during his senior campaign. He may be the conference's dark horse for Player of the Year.
4. Arlon Harper, Charleston Southern: Barclay Radebaugh has quite a 1-2 punch in North Charleston and Arlon Harper is the second in that deadly combo. The 6'1 shooting guard simply knows how to get buckets. He ended last year averaging 15 points per game, while adding 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Harper even willed his team to victory in the Big South semifinals when he dropped 33 points on VMI in a 71-65 victory for the Bucs. Charleston Southern has unfinished business and Harper is insistent in trumping his first two years on campus.
3. Allan Chaney, High Point: The enigma that is Allan Chaney. Chaney was a feel good story around the country last year after he returned to the court after stints at Florida and Virginia Tech, where he suffered from a heart condition that kept him off the court for since 2009. Chaney ended the year averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds, but I still think he can improve. Chaney has an NBA body, the most talent in the Big South, and could dominate the conference if he wanted to. I don't know if it was cold feet or something else a year ago, but Chaney just seemed to look disinterested at times. He has a smooth jumper and post moves that should have him posting 20 and 10 every evening. Lets see if another year from the NCAA sparks some tenacity in the veteran.
2. John Brown, High Point: John Brown took the conference by storm averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, and adding a steal and block per game his freshman year. Unfortunately, the super freshman missed the end of the regular season and postseason play for the Panthers with an injury. While his primary competition for Freshman of the Year a year ago, Michael Kessens, ran to the SEC, Brown stayed at High Point to continue the conference's most dominant frontcourt combo. If Brown stays healthy and there are no lingering effects from injury, then the Panthers should run away with the North Division this year.
1. Saah Nimley, Charleston Southern: Remember that 1-2 punch I mentioned? Nimley is the Buccaneers 5'8 hay-maker. It seems like Arlon Harper and Nimley have been playing forever, but both are only juniors. Nimley ended the year averaging 16 points and 5 assists a year ago. Did we also mention that one of the conference's shortest players grabbed over 5 rebounds per game? Nimley is a fireplug and may be the biggest competitor in the conference. Don't let his size fool you or he'll drop 20 points on you in an instant. If you're sitting around early this season and want to see a fun player to watch then turn into Nimley and the Bucs when they take on Baylor, Alabama, New Mexico, and Florida State early this year.