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Western Carolina Men's Basketball Picked to Win SoCon's North Division; Giles & Mutombo Named Preseason All-SoCon

Nov. 5, 2009

Cullowhee, N.C. - Coming off its first winning season since 1996-97 and the program's second conference divisional title a year ago, Western Carolina was today tabbed as the preseason favorite in the Southern Conference's North Division as voted upon by the league's 12 head coaches.

Western Carolina returns all five starters from a team that tied for the North Division Championship last season with an 11-9 mark in league play. The Catamounts earned 10 first-place votes and finished the balloting with 64 points, the most of any squad in the conference.

According to available records, WCU's preseason first-place pick in the North Division is the first in program history since joining the SoCon in 1977-78. The media preseason poll will be announced next week as a part of the SoCon Preseason Head Coaches' Teleconference.

Additionally, senior guard Brandon Giles and reigning conference freshman of the year, red-shirt sophomore Harouna Mutombo, were named to the preseason All-SoCon team as three teams put two teammates on the 10-man honorary squad.

Giles, who became the 37th different Catamount to eclipse the 1,000-point career plateau a season ago, earned third team All-SoCon plaudits from the media a season ago after ranking 13th in the league in scoring at 13.3 points per game. He led WCU in scoring on nine occasions including scoring 20-or-more five times.

Mutombo became the fourth different Catamount all-time to garner SoCon Freshman of the Year plaudits, and the first since Jarvis Hayes in 2000. The Pickering, Ontario native was the top-scoring freshman - and only one of three in the top 30 in the SoCon - with a 14.6 point per game average. He posted 24 double-digit scoring outings in his first season, reaching the 20-point plateau six times including a career-best 29 in the home win over UNC Greensboro.

Behind the first-place Catamounts, Appalachian State earned the remaining two first-place votes in the North Division and finished with 55 points. Samford (44) was chosen third while last season's tournament champion, Chattanooga (39), was slotted fourth. Elon and UNC Greensboro tied for fifth place with 22 points apiece.



Opposite WCU in the South Division, the College of Charleston - led by preseason Player of the Year, Andrew Goudelock - was selected by the head coaches to finish first, garnering eight first-place votes. The Cougars finished 15-5 in league play a season ago and advanced to the tournament championship before falling to the Mocs.

Wofford picked up three first-place votes and finished second in the preseason balloting with 54 points. Davidson, which has won the South Division each of the past three years, earned the final first-place vote in the South Division and came in third with 48 points. The Citadel (36) finished fourth, followed by Furman (24) and Georgia Southern (21).

In addition to aforementioned Giles, Goudelock and Mutombo, the preseason all-conference team included Tony White, Jr., from the College of Charleston; Noah Dahlman and Junior Salters from Wofford. Other members of the preseason team included Will Archambault (Davidson), Kellen Brand (Appalachian State), Willie Powers (Georgia Southern) and Cameron Wells (The Citadel).

The regular season opens Friday, November 13 when nine teams hit the court with 11 of the 12 SoCon teams will begin play over that weekend. Western Carolina takes to the hardwood for the first time on Saturday, Nov. 14, as it hosts St. Catharine's College at 7:00 pm in the Ramsey Center.

SoCon Men's Basketball Predicted Order of Finish
North Division
Team (1st Place Votes) - Total
1. Western Carolina (10) - 64
2. Appalachian State (2) - 55
3. Samford - 44
4. Chattanooga - 39
5. Elon - 22
UNC Greensboro - 22

South Division
Team (1st Place Votes) - Total
1. College of Charleston (8) - 63
2. Wofford (3) - 54
3. Davidson (1) - 48
4. The Citadel - 36
5. Furman - 24
6. Georgia Southern - 21

2009-10 Preseason All-Conference Team
Will Archambault, Davidson
Kellen Brand, Appalachian State
Noah Dahlman, Wofford
Brandon Giles, Western Carolina
Andrew Goudelock, College of Charleston
Harouna Mutombo, Western Carolina
Willie Powers, Georgia Southern
Junior Salters, Wofford
Cameron Wells, The Citadel
Tony White, Jr., College of Charleston

2009-10 Preseason Player of the Year
Andrew Goudelock, College of Charleston