CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Gardner-Webb was picked to finish fifth in the South Division as the 2012-2013 preseason Big South Conference men's basketball poll was released Tuesday.
The Runnin' Bulldogs garnered 58 points in the voting for the six-team division, which also includes Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, UNC Asheville, Winthrop and Presbyterian.
Charleston Southern was picked to win the South Division, collecting 16 first-place votes.
Gardner-Webb was nine votes behind fourth-place selection Winthrop and eight votes in front of Presbyterian. Coastal Carolina (8) and UNC Asheville (5) also collected first-place votes in the South.
Campbell (21 first-place votes) was the prohibitive favorite to win the North Division, followed by VMI, High Point, Liberty Radford and league newcomer Longwood.
The Camels were picked to finish ninth in last season's preseason poll, but won 17 games and captured second in the regular season.
Gardner-Webb returns five players with extensive starting experience to its 2012-2013 roster, with Tashan Newsome (12.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) leading the way.
Guard Max Landis (9.5 ppg), center Mike Byron (5.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg), forward Kevin Hartley (5.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and point guard Tyler Strange (4.3 ppg, 2.9 apg) were also regulars in the starting lineup a year ago, as was swing man Donta Harper (5.2 ppg).
UCF transfer Jarvis Davis (6-0, 180, RSo.), forward Onzie Branch (6-6, 215, Jr.), forward Jerome Hill (6-5, 215, Fr.) and guard Isaiah Ivey (6-2, 190, Fr.) pace the wave of newcomers expected to step in and contribute immediately for the Runnin' Bulldogs this season.
Branch, a versatile prospect, was an All-Region selection at Cloud County (Kan.) Community College last season. Hill averaged 23.0 ppg at Cook County (Ga.) High last season to earn All-State honors in the Peach State.Ivey earned All-State honors while leading one of the Bluegrass State's top programs – Scott County – in scoring and to the finals of the prestigious Sweet 16 in Rupp Arena.
Davis was a highly-recruited prospect following a postgraduate year at Hargrave Military (Va.) Academy before spending his freshman year as a reserve for the Golden Knights in Conference USA.
Gardner-Webb opens its season on Nov. 9 at No. 12 North Carolina. Opening tip is set for 7:00 pm in the Smith Center.