BRIDGEPORT — West Liberty has been picked to win the 2021 Mountain East Conference men’s basketball championship after a vote conducted by the league’s head coaches.
West Liberty finished atop the poll with 121 points and had 11 first-place votes. The 'Toppers are coming off a sweep of the conference regular season and tournament titles a season ago. WLU returns two-time All-American Dalton Bolon to the lineup, to go along with starters Will Yoakum and Pat Robinson. The Hilltoppers are currently ranked sixth in the most recent NABC poll.
Fairmont State was tabbed second with 111 points and had one first-place vote. The Falcons return four starters from last year, including the All-MEC duo of Dale Bonner and Cole VonHandorf. FSU also welcomes a pair of Division I transfers in Zyon Dobbs (James Madison) and Brandan Paul (Syracuse). Fairmont State is also currently nationally ranked coming in at No. 21 in the most recent NABC poll.
Charleston is picked third with 99 points. The Golden Eagles will look to Seth O'Neal to run the offense after leading the league in assists last year, and also returns Lamont McManus and his 15 points and four rebounds on the block. The Yellow Jackets, led by a trio of players who earned All-MEC honors a season ago in Glen Abram (first team), Anthony Pittman (second team) and Jeremiah Moore (honorable mention), were slotted fourth with 93 points.
Wheeling, under the direction of first-year head coach Chris Richardson, was picked fifth (77 points). The Cardinals return three players that averaged double figures last season in Jordan Reid (18.0 ppg), Jarett Haines (15.1 ppg) and Jay Gentry (10.1 ppg). Concord was tabbed sixth with 65 points. The Mountain Lions will be led by senior Malik Johnson (13.2 ppg) and sophomore Ethan Heller (11.2 ppg).
Glenville State was picked seventh with 57 points, followed by Notre Dame (52) and league newcomer Alderson Broaddus (35). West Virginia Wesleyan checked in at 10th (32 points), and Davis & Elkins (29) and Frostburg State (21) rounded out the poll.
The 16-game, conference-only season is scheduled to begin on Thursday, Jan. 7. The MEC Tournament is slated for March 3-7 at Wesbanco Arena.
2021 Men’s Basketball
1. West Liberty — 121 (11)
2. Fairmont State — 111 (1)
3. Charleston — 99
4. W.Va. State — 93
5. Wheeling — 77
6. Concord — 65
7. Glenville State — 57
8. Notre Dame — 52
9. Alderson Broaddus — 35
10. W.Va. Wesleyan — 32
11. Davis & Elkins — 29
12. Frostburg State — 21