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W&J Men’s Hoops Tabbed PAC Pre-season Favorite; McDowell’s Bock (Grove City), Kennedy’s Harden (Thiel) Players to Watch

Grove City's Jonah Bock, a McDowell graduate, is one of the Players to Watch in the PAC this season

TRAFFORD, Pa.  – The Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll, which had four different schools earn first-place votes, saw Washington & Jefferson College be selected as the favorite when the results were announced Tuesday morning.

In addition to the preseason poll, which is voted on by the conference’s 11 head coaches, the league’s Players to Watch list was also released Tuesday.

W&J was chosen first on three ballots and totaled 90 points to earn the top spot in the preseason poll. Ninth-year head coach Ethan Stewart-Smith led the Presidents to a 20-7 overall record last season and 16-4 mark in the PAC to clinch the first seed for the conference tournament. W&J, who won the 2021-22 league crown, saw their hopes for a repeat end in the tournament semifinals with a loss to fourth-seeded Chatham University.

Chatham gathered the most first-place votes with five and finished with 88 total points to rank second in the balloting. Sixth-year head coach David Richards guided the Cougars from the four seed in the PAC Tournament to their second league championship in program history, as they also came through as the four seed in the 2019 Tournament to win the crown. Last year’s run saw Chatham defeat Westminster College in the opening round before going on the road to win at W&J and then at Allegheny College in the title game to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament, the second time the Cougars have advanced to the NCAAs.

Last year’s runner-up Allegheny placed third in this year’s preseason voting with 73 points, just in front of Saint Vincent College, who had one first-place vote and 71 points. Coming in fifth place was Thiel College with the remaining two first-place votes and 66 points, followed by Geneva College in sixth (60); Westminster in seventh (55); Grove City College in eighth (37); Waynesburg University in ninth (30); Franciscan University in 10th (22) and Bethany College (13).

Only one player who was selected First Team All-PAC is back for the 2023-24 season. That is Saint Vincent sophomore Jaden Gales (Pittsburgh, Pa./Bishop Canevin), who was the conference’s Newcomer of the Year a season ago. Gales started all 26 games in the front court while leading the Bearcats and ranking third in the PAC in scoring with an average of 17.2 points per game. He also ranked second on the team – and ninth in the PAC – with an average of 7.5 rebounds per game, while he placed ninth in the league in blocks (31) and 14th in free throw percentage (.639).

Gales was not only named the PAC Newcomer of the Year, he would also earn the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Rookie of the Year honor, becoming the first player in Saint Vincent history to be named the ECAC’s top rookie.

While Gales is the only First Team All-PAC player returning, four who were named Second Team All-PAC and four who were chosen Honorable Mention are on this year’s Players to Watch list. Also on this year’s Watch list is Chatham junior guard Blaine Gartley (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon), who was named the PAC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after averaging 14.7 points and 9.7 rebounds in the Cougars’ three PAC Tournament victories.

This season will see the PAC shift to a six-team PAC Championship Tournament with the top two seeds receiving byes. This year’s conference postseason will tip off on Tuesday, February 20 with its quarterfinal round. The semifinals are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 22 and this year’s championship game is slated for Saturday, Feb. 24.

This year’s championship tournament winner will receive the league’s automatic qualifying bid to the Division III Championship. Team selections for the Division III Championship are scheduled to be announced Monday, Feb. 26, with first and second-round matchups scheduled for Friday-Saturday, March 1-2.

2023-24 PAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll
School (first-place votes) Points 2022-23 Record (PAC)
1. Washington & Jefferson College (3) 90 20-7 (16-4 PAC)
2. Chatham University (5) 88 17-12 (13-7 PAC)
3. Allegheny College 73 20-10 (15-5 PAC)
4. Saint Vincent College (1) 71 15-11 (11-9 PAC)
5. Thiel College (2) 66 13-12 (11-9 PAC)
6. Geneva College 60 18-11 (14-6 PAC)
7. Westminster College 55 14-12 (12-8 PAC)
8. Grove City College 37 10-16 (8-12 PAC)
9. Waynesburg University 30 5-19 (3-17 PAC)
10. Franciscan University 22 7-18 (4-16 PAC)
11. Bethany College 13 3-22 (3-17 PAC)

2023-24 PAC Men’s Basketball Players to Watch
Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Hometown/High School
Luke Barker Jr. G 6-1 New Castle, Pa./Struthers (Ohio)
Ryan Lang So. G 6-0 Sarver, Pa./Knoch
Preston Turk Sr. G 5-11 New Castle, Pa./Neshannock
Andre Wilder Sr. F 6-4 Beaver Falls, Pa./Lincoln Park

Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Hometown/High School
Cole Dailey So. F 6-6 East Liverpool, Ohio/East Liverpool
Troy Hixson So. G 6-1 Grove City, Ohio/Bishop Ready
Chance Wells Jr. F 6-2 Wooster, Ohio/Triway

Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Hometown/High School
Simon Boyer Sr. G 6-3 Hampton, Va./Hampton Roads Academy
Blaine Gartley Jr. G 5-10 Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon
Geoffrey Helm Sr. F 6-6 Blairsville, Pa./Greensburg Central Catholic
Isaiah Smith Jr. G 6-0 Ambridge, Pa./Lincoln Park

Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Hometown/High School
Josh Zimmerman Jr. F 6-3 Steubenville, Ohio/Steubenville

Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Hometown/High School
Jonathan Bertovich So. G 5-9 East Palestine, Ohio/Heartland Christian
Isaac Massie Grad. G 6-0 Cross Lanes, W.Va./Homeschooled
Mark Rachic Jr. G 6-1 Prince Frederick, Md./Calvert
Ryan Rachic Sr. F 6-5 Prince Frederick, Md./Calvert
Trevor Tipton Jr. G/F 6-4 Glenside, Pa./Philmont Academy

Grove City
Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Hometown/High School
Jonah Bock Jr. G 6-1 Erie, Pa./McDowell
Chase Yarberough Jr. G 6-1 Lititz, Pa./Warwick

Saint Vincent
Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Hometown/High School
Jaden Gales So. F 6-7 Pittsburgh, Pa./Bishop Canevin
Mike Iuzzolino So. G 6-1 Sewickley, Pa./Canterbury-Conn.
Dev Ostrowski So. G 6-2 East Lyme, Conn./East Lyme (Miami Dade College)

Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Hometown/High School
Mike Brown So. G 5-10 Clinton, Md./Gwynn Park
Marlon Ellerbee Sr. G 6-1 Temple Hills, Md./Oxon Hill
Elijah Harden So. G 6-1 Sharon, Pa./Kennedy Catholic
Rayshod Hooper Sr. F 6-6 Baltimore, Md./St. Frances Academy

Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Hometown/High School
Nick Gearhart Sr. G 6-4 Huntingdon, Pa./Huntingdon
Brandon Jakiela So. G 6-3 McDonald, Pa./South Fayette
J.R. Mazza Sr. G 6-2 Bridgeport, W.Va./University
Matt Seidl So. G 6-3 Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills

Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Hometown/High School
Antone Baker Sr. F 6-4 Maple Heights, Ohio/Maple Heights
Ryan Felberg Grad. G 5-10 Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg
Jansen Knotts Sr. F 6-4 Ridgeley, W.Va./Frankfort
Jake Scheidt Sr. G/F 6-3 Saxonburg, Pa. | Knoch
Bryson Wilt Sr. G 6-3 Oakland, Md./Southern Garrett

Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Hometown/High School
Drew Clark Sr. G 6-4 New Middletown, Ohio/Springfield Local
Trey DiPietro So. G 6-7 Beloit, Ohio/West Branch
Quincy Jones So. G 6-6 Youngstown, Ohio/Chaney
Reese Leone Sr. G 5-10 Beloit, Ohio/West Branch

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