Coach Tommy Brown and his Lee men's basketball will begin the 2008-09 season ranked No. 4 by a panel of coaches representing all the NAIA conferences and independent colleges.
Oklahoma City tops the Division I men’s poll. The two-time defending champions earned six of the possible 11 first-place votes and 273 total points to begin the year No. 1. The Stars are under the direction of OCU rookie head coach Kevin Morrissey. He has a tall task ahead as 80 percent of the scoring is gone, including NAIA First Team All-American Ollie Bailey, from the 31-7 team from a year ago.
Robert Morris (Ill.) checks in at No. 2, just four points behind OCU with 269 total votes. The Eagles notched three first-place votes. RMC finished 28-4 last year and head coach Al Bruehl is expecting big things from transfer, DeAndre Thomas, who arrives from the University of Indiana this fall. No. 3 Mountain State (W.V.) is the national runners-up and went 34-3 last season.
The prize recruit, according to head coach Bob Bolen, is St. Petersburg (Fla.) Community College transfer, Marcus Hunter, who averaged around 23 points last year. The Flames amassed 245 total points in the poll while No. 5 California Baptist rounded out the Top 5 with 244 points.
Coach Brown's team finished the 2007-08 season with an impressive 33-2 record, including road wins over NCAA Division I opponents East Carolina and Mountain State. Brown enjoyed an excellent recruiting year and has his club primed to challenge for another Southern States Athletic Conference title and a fourth- straight trip to the NAIA National Tournament.
His Flames advanced to the Elite Eight last season before falling to the national champions, Oklahoma City. Lee will play an exhibition game at Tusculum College on Saturday and then begin the regular season by hosting rival Tennessee Temple one week from Thursday in Walker Arena.
Georgetown (Ky.), the team that was No. 1 in the 2007-08 final regular season poll, begins the campaign at No. 6 and earning one first-place nod. The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents. The first regular season Top 25 poll will be announced on Monday, Dec. 1.