The Big Picture:
Last year, the Lions finished 33-4 overall, 16-2 in the SSAC and made it to the NAIA DI National championship where they finished as national runner-up. The Lions have lost two starters, All-Conference First Team forward Adrian Justice, forward Timothy Wilkes, center Leon Sampson and guard Nathan Tew to graduation. First Team All American guard Michael Stanley has returned for his senior season along with starting forward Patrick McCrary, starting forward Jeremy Burgess, veteran forward Johan Pennerat, and starting guard Luke Miller. Emmanuel has won 1 NCCAA National Championship 1 SSAC Conference Championship and made four appearances in the NAIA national tournament under coach TJ Rosene.
Michael Stanley led the lions in scoring last year with 16.9 average. Stanley also led the lions in rebounding 8.3; assist 2.9 and steals 1.92 per game. Miller averaged 11.2 points while shooting 86% from the free-throw line and 34% from 3 point range. McCrary averaged 9.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and while blocking 23 shots. He is a top-notch defender. Forward Zach Lillie showed promise as a freshman, averaging 3.9 points & 2.9 rebounds. He also shot 95% from the free throw line.
Justice will be missed for his leadership and his averages of 12.9 points and 4.1 rebounds. Sampson's value was greater than his averages of 2.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. He always seemed to make the smart play. Nathan Tew (3.8 ppg) and Timothy Wilkes (1.7 ppg, 0.9 rpg) were frontcourt and backcourt reserves.
The Lions was voted as the preseason NCCAA number one rated team in the nation. The return of Stanley is significant up front. Miller-Pennerat and Burgess are backcourt veterans who can help mentor some of the freshmen. There is probably more available playing time to be had in the backcourt this year where Stanley, Miller and Burgess will be. Six-one guard Wyatt Sippy and 6'4 guard Kurtis Robinson may have opportunities to contribute right away., 6'5 senior forward Patrick McCrary is a key returner for the front court. His leadership, work ethic and intangibles will help to solidify the lion's frontcourt. 6'6 forward Terrence Polk and 6'5 forward Zach Vess will also have opportunities to contribute. 6'5 guard Steven Guinchard and 6'3 guard Willy Akasson were key reserves last season and could see significant minutes this season due to their development in the off season. 6'9 freshman Center Sam Turner, 6'5 freshman guard Nick Scheimann and 6'5 forward Kendrick Colvin will redshirt this season.
The Lions start their season Friday (November 14) at the Lander Classic, and will host their first home game against Bob Jones in the Shaw Athletic Center on Tuesday, November 18th at 7:00 PM.