With the days passing quickly, I'm going to have to start doubling up some of these previews in order to finish them before the first game tips.
After a tough road trip to Wichita, Alabama will return home for a four-game homestand to close out the non-conference schedule. The first of these games will be against their neighbor, Stillman, a member of NCAA Division II. These two played last season as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off, with Alabama notching a 102-65 victory.
Stillman made a coaching hire in the offseason, hiring Donte Jackson who was previously the head coach at Central State University in Ohio. He compiled a 68-42 record in four seasons at Central State. Stillman returns 3 of their top 8 scorers form last season (plus an additional player who averaged 5.1 ppg). The leader of the pack should be Markeith Madison, a senior from Tuscaloosa who averaged 16.8 ppg and 7.5 rpg last season.
Appalachian State joins the Sun Belt conference after spending the previous 42 years competing in the Southern conference. They will begin play in the Sun Belt with a new coaching staff. Jim Fox was hired for his first head coaching gig after 13 years as an assistant at Davidson. Having been mentored by a first class coach like Bob McKillop, the expectation is high at Appalachian State that Fox can build a program similar to what McKillop has done at Davidson.
The Mountaineers only won 9 games last season so there's nowhere to go but up. The program returns 4 of their top 8 scorers from last season, including the leading scorer, Tab Hamilton (12.7 ppg). Another key guy for App State may be Purdue transfer, Jacob Lawson (6'8, 230 lbs)