Lindy’s Sports, one of the leading college print publications, released its early rankings and Liberty grabbed a top 25 slot, checking in at No. 21. One of Liberty’s opponents, LSU, was also picked in the top 25 as they were slotted at #18.
“After 17 years as a head coach, Ritchie McKay finally got his first NCAA Tournament win, which was even more satisfying because it wasn’t a fluke and there is a very good chance he has the players to get another one. Maybe two.” the publication stated. “Caleb Homesley – who dropped 30 on Mississippi State in the NCAA win – and Scottie James are a nasty outside-in combo.”
Caleb Homesley ranked as the 18th best player in America according to the magazine, “Move Liberty into ACC and he’s first or second-team all-conference.” Scottie James checked in at #125 in the ranking of the best 150 players in the country.
Not surprisingly, Lindy’s picked Homesley and James were both picked to the first-team all-ASUN team while giving James the nod for Player of the Year. Scottie was also named the league’s best rebounder while Homesley called the most versatile.
Lindy’s picked Liberty to win the ASUN and once again represent the league in the NCAA Tournament. The rest of the conference’s predicted order of finish was – #2 North Florida, #3 Jacksonville, #4 FGCU, #5 Lipscomb, #6 North Alabama, #7 Kennesaw State, #8 NJIT, and #9 Stetson.
Ritchie McKay has 4 starters returning from last year’s squad that won a program record 29 games while also winning a share of the regular season ASUN title and earning a trip to the Big Dance following the ASUN Tournament Championship. Five of the top six scorers also return as the Flames look to repeat as conference champions and make consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history.
As a junior, Scottie James led the team with 12.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while being named first-team all-conference. His classmate, Caleb Homesley, was also named first-team all-conference during a season where he finished second on the team with 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists.
Liberty must replace guard Lovell Cabbil who was a 4-year starter for the program after being the first recruit to pledge to McKay when he returned as head coach in 2015. Cabbil played 30 minutes per game and finish 3rd on the team with 11.7 points and 3.6 rebounds. He led the team with 2.8 assists per game.
Starters Elijah Cuffee and Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz return to form a solid nucleus around James and Homesley. This backcourt tandem combined to start 71 games last season while averaging a combined 14.8 points per game. Other key contributors that return include Darius McGhee, Myo Baxter-Bell, and Keegan McDowell.
The Flames also welcome a talented group of freshmen to campus highlighted by the highest rated recruit in program history in 6’7″ forward Kyle Rode.
Liberty opens the season on November 8th against Radford in the Vines Center. The Highlanders were the choice to win the Big South in Lindy’s publication.