Panthers Picked to Finish Second in SSC Preseason Poll

By  //  October 24, 2013

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member of sunshine state conference

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — Coming off of an 16-11 season that returns three starters, Florida Tech was selected to finish second in the Sunshine State Conference as voted on by the SSC men’s basketball head coaches.

Men's basketball begins its quest for a second SSC title in three seasons on Oct. 30 with an exhibition at Miami. (Florida Tech image)

Men’s basketball begins its quest for a second SSC title in three seasons on Oct. 30 with an exhibition at Miami. (Florida Tech image)

FIT finished fourth in the SSC in 2012-13 and ended the regular season with an eight game winning streak against conference opponents.

The Panthers received 53 points and the other two first-place votes aside from South Region favorite Florida Southern (63 votes, seven first place). Saint Leo, who shared the regular season title, was picked to finish third with 46 votes, followed by Rollins (44).

Rounding out the preseason poll are Eckerd (31), Lynn (28), Nova Southeastern (21) and Barry and Tampa both earning 19 points. Florida Tech returns junior guards and 2012-13 All-SSC Second Team honorees Chris Carter and Jermaine Jackson and sophomore center David Usic.

Carter averaged 17.9 points per game and Jackson scored 17.3 points per game while Usic was featured on Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays for a reverse dunk. The trio scored over 50 percent of FIT’s points last season and are joined in the starting lineup by transfers Akeem Johnson and Corbin Jackson. Head coach Billy Mims enters his ninth season at the helm of the Panthers. “It’s nice to receive preseason recognition both from the DII Bulletin (who voted FIT as a ‘team to watch’) and by my fellow coaches in the conference,” said Mims.

Billy Mims

Billy Mims

“We won the conference two years ago and some of the guys that experienced that are still on the team now and want to win again. Every team in this conference is well coached and has great talent. It will be a challenge for our program but we want to be a program that competes for titles every year” — Coach Mims

“This is one of the strongest conferences in the country and it is an honor to be voted as one of the top teams in the SSC. I’ve always said that we are the ACC of Division II basketball.” Coach Mims and the Panthers appreciate the preseason honor but also know that it will be difficult to win in this strong conference.

“It will be a challenge for our program but we want to be a program that competes for titles every year,” Mims stressed.

PANTHERS HEAD TO CORAL GABLES OCT. 30

The Panthers head to Coral Gables for an exhibition contest against the defending Atlantic Coast Conference Champions, the University of Miami. The Hurricanes do not return a starter from a team that made a Sweet 16 appearance. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at the BankUnited Center.

“We won the conference two years ago and some of the guys that experienced that are still on the team now and want to win again. Every team in this conference is well coached and has great talent.”

“I think the polls are also a reflection on the team that we bring back this year. As a young team, we were undefeated down the stretch, winning nine straight games in February. We were able to finish fourth in the conference after a rough start.”

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