NCAA College Basketball 2014-2015 Early Predictions: Southern Conference

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Southern Conference could be wide open with the departure of perennial titan Davidson. Who is set to takeover the new look (or old look) conference?

If you haven't seen the movie Big, the main character, Josh Baskin, ends up being transformed into an adult version of himself (played by Tom Hanks) by a fortune telling machine called Zoltar. And all he wanted to was to be tall enough to go on a ride at the carnival. Talk about not getting what you paid for. We don't accept quarters here, but we will look into the hazy future and hope to predict what will be coming in the 2014-15 season for our leagues. Sorry, no refunds.

It was an off year in the Southern Conference as Davidson cruised through the regular season but it was Wofford that ended up getting the auto bid for the conference. Davidson, Appalachian State, Elon, and Georgia Southern are all gone, while Mercer, VMI, and East Tennessee State join the fray. Who will reign supreme in the new SoCon?

Very Early All-Conference Team:

Karl Cochran, SR, G, Wofford
QJ Peterson, SO, G VMI
Stephen Croone, JR, G, Furman
Tim Williams, JR, F, Samford
Kyle Cain, SR, F, UNC Greensboro
Rashawn Rembert, SR, G, East Tennessee State

POY: Karl Cochran, Wofford
DPOY: Tim Williams, Samford
COY: Duggar Baucom, VMI

Impact Transfers

Damien Leonard, G, Furman (from South Carolina): Leonard will be an instant upgrade in the backcourt for Neco Medved and the Paladins. The former four star recruit was part of the mass exodus away from Frank Martin and South Carolina where he started 20 games and averaged 6.8 points as a freshman. His playing time diminished his sophomore year under Martin and that's why he's at Furman now.

Justin Tuoyo, F, Chattanooga (from VCU): Will Wade jumped from being a VCU assistant to head coach at Chattanooga with ease last year and he brought a friend with him in big man Justin Tuoyo. Tuoyo appeared in 25 games for Shaka Smart at VCU and he gives the Mocs a big body they'll need with the departure of Z Mason.

Early Standings Prediction:

1. Wofford Terriers: The Terriers basically bring back everyone from their Southern Conference championship team this past year and will be lead by Karl Cochran, Spencer Collins, and Lee Skinner. All three players could find themselves with hardware at the end of the season. Mike Young has the top dogs and they are going to be hard to knock off in 2014-15.

2. East Tennessee State Buccaneers: The Bucs are back after a 10 year trip to the Atlantic Sun after dropping football and they have some serious talent in their stable. Rashawn Rembert, Jalen Riley, and Lester Wilson were all double-digit scorers a year ago and all are back. Rembert can be a SoCon first teamer and can carry this team to a championship in their first year back in the conference.

3. Chattanooga Mocs: Only one player is gone from the Mocs roster but it's all-everything performer Z Mason who certainly will be cashing a lot of professional checks. VCU transfer Justin Tuoyo should fill in nicely for the Mocs and will anchor a guard heavy roster lead by Casey Jones who averaged over 12 points and 6 rebounds a year ago.

4. VMI Keydets: Duggar Baucom and his Keydets come back to the Southern Conference after leaving for the Big South in the early 2000s. VMI moved to the Big South to be more competitive but still the Keydets have not raised any banners and are in a nearly 40 year NCAA Tournament drought. Gone is talented big man D.J. Covington and all-conference guard Rodney Glasgow, but the Keydets bring back some talent in QJ Peterson (19 ppg) and some blossoming underclassmen.  VMI's style alone will win them plenty of games in the SoCon if they can get solid point guard play from Brian Brown or freshman Jon Elmore.

5. Samford Bulldogs: The Bulldogs will have a veteran team lead by Tim Williams, who averaged 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Isaiah Williams also returns as a double-digit scorer and might even give Bennie Seltzer a chance to get to the tournament for the first time since 2000.

6. Furman Paladins: Neko Medved had a super young team in his first year as the head coach at Furman but should have a solid squad in the SoCon this year. Stephen Croone lead the conference in scoring last year with 19.1 points per game and he should have a solid running mate in South Carolina transfer Damien Leonard.

7. Mercer Bears: Mercer will be the definition of a rebuilding team in 2014-15 after an incredible stretch that ended with the NCAA Tournament victory over Duke this year. Langston Hall, Daniel Coursey, Bud Thomas, Anthony White Jr., and Jakob Gollon are all gone and they accounted for nearly 65% of the Bears offense. Coach Bob Hoffmann, an influx of JUCO talent, and guard Ike Nwamu will still make the Bears a challenging team to face in the SoCon.

8. Western Carolina Catamounts: Much like Bob Hoffmann at Mercer, head coach Larry Hunter at Western Carolina will make the Catamounts competitive. With that being said, the Catamounts lose a whole lot including Trey Sumler, Brandon Boggs, and Tom Tankelewicz. Western Carolina may have missed their window for a championship last year.

9. UNC Greensboro Spartans: Wes Miller still seems to have retention issues in Greensboro. A year after losing Trevis Simpson early Tevon Saddler, Tyrone Outlaw, and Jordan Potts all have bolted this year and the Spartans will have to lean on the talented Kyle Cain to carry the team.

NOTE: Kyle Cain left UNCG on May 6 to pursue professional opportunities.

10. The Citadel Bulldogs: Simply put, there is no end in sight for the struggling Bulldogs and you have to think this will be the last year for Chuck Driesell to try to turn this around. Maybe having old military rival VMI will pick up the boys in the Palmetto state.

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