EKU was picked to finish sixth out of 12 teams in a preseason poll of league head coaches and sports information directors.
The Colonels received 128 points in the poll. Belmont was tabbed the preseason OVC favorite, but not by much. The Bruins received 17 first-place votes and a total of 237 points. Murray State, the defending OVC Tournament champion, finished second in the poll with seven first-place votes and a total of 223 points.
Jacksonville State was third with 187 points, followed by Austin Peay (180 points), UT Martin (154), EKU (128), Eastern Illinois (124), Morehead State (113), Tennessee State (90), SIUE (63), Southeast Missouri (49) and Tennessee Tech (36).
EKU was picked to finish ninth in the OVC Media Poll, which was released last Friday.
EKU will have to replace its all-time leading scorer, Nick Mayo, in 2019-20. Mayo scored 2,316 points (fifth most by an OVC player) and – arguably even more impressive – started every game during his four-year Colonel career — 124 consecutive starts.
Second-year head coach A.W. Hamilton plans to replace Mayo by committee. Back is a trio of talented sophomores in Brown, Houston King and Tre King. Houston King ranked third in the OVC in three-point field goal percentage during his rookie campaign (42.7%). Tre King played in all 31 games as a freshman and was second on the team in rebounds (137) and blocks (17).
Two veteran newcomers are also expected to be key contributors this season. Darius Hicks – a 6-8 forward – transferred from N.C. State in 2018 and had to sit out last season. He will be expected to fill some of the inside void left by Mayo’s departure. Taylor is a graduate transfer from UNC Wilmington. The 6-3 guard averaged just under 14 points-per-game as a sophomore at UNCW and has already played in 85 Division-I games in his collegiate career.
Seniors Lachlan Anderson and Kelvin Robinson and juniors Peyton Broughton, Cameron Carmical and Jacquess Hobbs bring depth and experience to the roster.
Hamilton hopes to continue the fast-paced, press-for-40-minutes style he implemented last year in his first season at the helm. EKU ranked 13th in the country in scoring (82.6 points-per-game) and second in both steals-per-game (10.2) and turnovers forced-per-game (18.2) in 2018-19.
EKU will host Berea College in an exhibition on Thursday, October 31 at McBrayer Arena.
The Colonels open the regular season by hosting Chattanooga on Tuesday night, November 5, at 7:00 p.m.