The Atlantic Sun has long been one of our favorite conferences here at HoopsHD, and the battle at the top of this conference has a chance to be a ton of fun once again this year. Lipscomb and Florida Gulf Coast enter the season on almost a 1A and 1B level, with many preseason publications leaning towards Dunk City, though we are going with the Bison. Stetson is one of the few teams with a ton of returning players, and thus gets our nod for the darkhorse team to keep an eye on. Beyond the top few, there is a sharp drop-off as schools like North Florida and Kennesaw State try to rebuild. One team that will be rebuilding on the court is at least done rebuilding the court itself, as NJIT opens its brand new 3,500 seat Wellness and Events Center — a probable destination for a HoopsHD road trip at some point this season.
- Lipscomb – The Bison finished second in the conference standings last year and return their top eight players. That is a great recipe for success. The team will need to continue to hit the three-ball, as they were sixth in the nation last year in made shots from long-range.
- Florida Gulf Coast – The Eagles will have a chance to defend their A-Sun regular season and tournament championships with their entire backcourt returning, led by star Brandon Goodwin, and the addition of Michigan transfer Ricky Doyle in the frontcourt. Also, keep an eye out for 5-3 freshman Darnell Rogers, son of former Atlantic Ten Player of the Year (at only 5-4) Shawnta Rogers.
- Stetson – The Hatters have a great chance to be this year’s surprise team in the A-Sun with three starters returning and a ton of new talent, including 6-10 junior college transfer Ricky Gouety and 7-2 freshman Adam Webb. There are few teams in this conference that can match up with that type of size.
- North Florida – Matthew Driscoll has done a great job in his eight seasons in Jacksonville, even if last year was a disappointment when the Ospreys finished 15-19 (though they did make a run to the conference tournament title game). This year may be a rebuild with a ton of new faces on the roster and Dallas Moore’s 23.9 points per game gone.
- South Carolina Upstate – Head coach Eddie Payne announced his retirement just a couple weeks ago, and now the Spartans will have a new head coach for the first time since moving up to Division I. There is cause for optimism coming off of a CIT season and led by guard Mike Cunningham, but there probably is not enough here to contend for the league crown.
- Kennesaw State – Al Skinner enters his third year as head coach for the Owls, and has yet to get the team above .500. That will be tough again this season with Kendrick Ray’s 21 points per game gone, though senior Nick Masterson should shine.
- Jacksonville – The Dolphins made the CIT last season, but only return one starter, making this potentially a long season for head coach Tony Jasick’s team.
- NJIT – The Highlanders were a disappointing 11-20 last season, and now both Damon Lynn and Tim Coleman have graduated. At least they have their brand new 3,500 seat arena opening this season.