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Big South preseason awards: Chris Clemons is not done yet

Chris Clemons’s senior season should be a fun one.

Linsey Fagan-USA TODAY Sports

The Big South remains a strong conference even with the departure of Liberty and the arrival of Hampton. The mid-major transfer bug did not really hurt most teams and every team has a major contributor returning.

Here are the Big South Preseason awards:

Player of the Year: Chris Clemons

On a bad night, Chris Clemons can score 20 points in his sleep.

He averaged 24.9 points per game last season, good for No. 4 in the nation. And what’s crazy is that he ranked top-5 in scoring during the 2016-17 season as well. His loyalty to Campbell and consistent play has made him a CU legend.

He’s CU’s all-time leading scorer at 2,232 points, which also ranks No. 2 in Big South Conference history. His 23.0 PPG career scoring average is most among all active D1 players entering the 2018-19 season. And, as if he couldn’t get any better, he currently owns the nation’s longest active consecutive double-figure scoring streak at 82 games.

He has done almost everything...except lead Campbell to the NCAA tournament. His withdrawal from the NBA Draft is a sign that Clemons is nowhere near done wrecking Big South defenses on a nightly basis.

Newcomer of the Year: Jermaine Marrow, Hampton

MEAC players and coaches are taking sighs of relief knowing that this player isn’t on their conference slate. Jermaine Marrow was one of the stars of the MEAC last season: He averaged 19.1 points, 5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game last year. He uses his speed and shifty handles to slide through defenses and attack the paint. His jumper is solid and he’s not at all scared to get in your face on defense.

Marrow being this good through only two years of play is dangerous. His success will most definitely transition with him to the Big South.

Dark Horse Team: High Point

It’s hard to pick a true dark horse in such a tight conference. UNC Asheville, Radford, Winthrop, Campbell, and Hampton are overall good squads that can take the conference crown if the chips fall right.

High Point is a few pieces away from being one of those teams, and their biggest piece returned home this offseason: New Head Coach Tubby Smith, who was fired by Memphis after a 21 win season. A coach who can generate 21 wins while losing its leading scorer halfway through the season is a man that can make some things happen.

Since going Division I in 1999, HPU has not reached the NCAA Tournament, but they reached two CBI and NIT tournaments within the last five years. They are close and Tubby Smith will push them higher.

First Team

Chris Clemons, Sr., G, Campbell
Christian Keeling, Jr., G, Charleston Southern
David Efianayi, R-Sr., G, Gardner-Webb
Jermaine Marrow, Jr., G, Hampton
Jahaad Proctor, So., G, High Point

The Big South has a lot of good players returning, which makes for some good basketball. Some of the top scorers in the league are on our first team for good reason.

The aforementioned Clemons is basically a Big South legend at this point. He scored 278 more points than the second leading scorer, Christian Keeling. Clemons’s ability to score has not been stopped and won’t be anytime soon.

Same goes for Keeling. He averaged 17.6 PPG and 5.2 RPG last season for CSU. His strong first two seasons are setting him up for an explosive junior campaign. Speaking of explosive, Jermaine Marrow from Hampton is nothing short of that. His small frame and quick moves can slash any defense that in front of him. David Efianayi is also in that conversation. His ability to get fouls and shift games from the free-throw line was key for Gardner-Webb.

Jahaad Proctor rounds out our first team. He averaged 16.4 points in only 25 games last season The Big South All-Academic team member is ready to peak and cement his legacy at HPU.

Second Team

Ed Polite Jr., Sr., F, Radford
Davon Bell, R-Sr., G, Presbyterian
Carlik Jones, R-So., G, Radford
Bjorn Broman, Sr., G, Winthrop
Jaheam Cornwall, So., G, Gardner-Webb