Aiken, SC (WJBF) -- The USC Aiken Pacers men's basketball team has high expectations for the 2013-14 season.
Fresh off their first-ever NCAA Division II Southeast Region title and Elite Eight berth, the Pacers been tabbed the No. 4 team nationally in the 23rd annual Division II Bulletin men's basketball Preseason Top 25.
The Pacers were 25-8 last year, including a 15-4 record league mark en route to claiming the Peach Belt Conference regular-season title. Head coach Vince Alexander's team won the league tournament and hosted the Southeast Regional. The Pacers rolled through the regional, downing Belmont Abbey (94-76), Wingate (69-57) and Barton (82-75) to earn their Elite Eight berth in Louisville, Ky. In the Elite Eight, USC Aiken fell to eventual national champion Drury, 84-75.
Alexander returns virtually his entire line-up from last year's Elite Eight squad. The team features 10 seniors and three sophomores, including two of which are newcomers.
The 2013-14 team features seniors Rick Alderman (6.0 ppg., 2.9 rpg.), who redshirted last year, Kinley Branch (7.4 ppg., 3.6 rpg.), Santoine Butler (12.1 ppg., 6.6 rpg.), Paul Larsen (12.9 ppg., 9.0 rpg.), Shane Porchea (2.2 ppg.), Derrick Scott (2.8 ppg.), Jesse Seilern (9.7 ppg., 38 steals), DeVontae Wright (8.2 ppg., 86 assists), Ronald Zimmerman (15.3 ppg.., .454 from the three-point line) and Alvin Brown (8.9 ppg., 5.9 rpg., 3.3 bpg.), who returns to the Pacers after sitting out the last two seasons. Brown was named the PBC Defensive Player of the Year for the 2010-11 campaign.
Grant Harris (3:1 a/to ratio) saw valuable minutes as a freshman a season ago while Hendrix Emu and Gavin Stephenson will see plenty of playing time this season.
Metro State, West Liberty and Seattle Pacific were selected ahead of the Pacers while Bellarmine rounds out the top five.
The Pacers have two exhibition contests against Division I institutions before opening regular-season play Nov. 8 against P.R.-Rio Piedras in Maygauez, Puerto Rico, in the Mayaguez Basketball Classic. On Nov. 1, Alexander's team has an exhibition at Mississippi (7 p.m. EST) and Nov. 3 at South Carolina (2 p.m.).
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