2019/20 Season Preview – South Conference

The EABL season is set to kick off next Wednesday so here is a team by team preview for the EABL South Conference ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.

Barking Abbey School

After winning the Conference last season off the back of a regular season record that contained just a solitary defeat, Barking were denied a third straight EABL title following a miracle comeback by Charnwood in April’s Final.

If they’re going to find success once more, the Barking roster will have to cope with the loss of a number of stars. The highly rated Ade Adebayo was a top 3 Deng camp selection in 2018 and came close to receiving the EABL MVP award in 2018/19. He’s moved on to UC Davis, and fellow All-Conference 1st team selection from a year ago Jonathan Brown has also departed. Nathaniel Powell has moved to Williston State, and Robin Bedford has graduated to Newberry in NCAA D2.

Impressive big man Theo Hughes returns to BA however and ranks 6th on the current Deng list. Exciting guard Chris Feeney also returns and Veron Eze has moved across from Copleston to form part of Coach Vear’s new look roster. Sam Alajiki and Quinn Ellis should also prove to be valuable additions for Barking this season.

“Everyone is excited for the upcoming EABL season, especially after coming up short last year in the finals,” said Feeney. “It is a great opportunity to prove who we are as an academy.”

BHASVIC

After a 10th place finish a year ago, BHASVIC will be looking for improvements in 2019/20. After winning just a single game last term, the South coast side can look to make strides in their general performances as they look to take some close games and potentially convert them into victories.

Losing close games to more established academies such as CoLA and Oaklands Wolves suggests that BHASVIC aren’t far away from being a greater force in the South Conference, and that is the step they’ll be trying to make this season.

Canterbury Academy

Head Coach Adam Davies first season in charge saw Canterbury secure a post season berth and a 4th place finish during the regular season. After losing in the opening round of the playoffs to eventual winners Charnwood, the Kent based Academy will have their sights on at least matching that success this year.

The departure of South Conference’s Most Improved Player from a year ago in Milo Gordon won’t help, especially as they youngster recorded a do-it-all stat line of 17.1ppg, 8.9rpg, 3.6apg, 2.4spg and 1.3bpg that will need to be filled.

However, after retaining a handful of key players from last year’s roster, whilst adding a quartet of new additions in Kieran Farrell, Brandon Kinyau, Saleem Lyus and Menelik Lionel, Canterbury will feel they’re well placed to remain a force.

“With the players that are returning and the new talent that we have coming in, the season is lining up to be very exciting.” Said Coach Davies “With this season being my second in charge, I hope we can keep improving the overall programme which will lead to the guys getting better and them reaching their potential.”

City of London Academy

CoLa slipped to 7th in the South Conference standings a year ago and will want to improve on that in 2019/20. With a roster full of talent, there is every chance they can do just that given the opportunity.

Returning guard Tyreese Garrod is a leader for this unit and the likes of Oscar Leigh-Hales, Will White, Erika Sendrauskas and Rei Ndreu will also give it another shot this season.

With a number of departures, both domestically and abroad, CoLA have brought in no less than 8 new additions to help improve their fortunate for 2019/20.

“Last season wasn’t a great season for us at all, we really underachieved with the talent we had,” said Garrod. “We were all a little worried for this season but as preseason got underway we could see that the year 12s have added a lot of talent and the year 13s are going to fully embrace them. I’m looking forward to playing with these guys this season, we have the makings of a special team if we put in the work.”

Copleston High School

Narrowly missing out on the post season with a 5th place finish season a year ago, reaching the playoffs will be the next step for the Suffolk based programme, a stage they haven’t reached since 2015/16.

Most importantly, Copleston can welcome returnee Ethan Price. Following a summer representing GB, the South Conference MVP, All-Conference 1st teamer and Defensive Player of the Year averaged a 31.1 efficiency rating last year to go with stats of 20.7ppg, 14.3rpg, 2.1apg, 2.4spg and 3.4bpg. It’s no real surprise to see Price inside the top 5 of this year’s Deng Camp list either.

Fellow star Ben Winter is another welcome returnee from last year’s roster as an EABL Player of the Week from 17/18 to go with All-Conference 2nd team honours.

The loss of Veron Eze will hurt, but adding 6’9” forward Harry Syrett and young guard Sebastian Mobee should prove to be positive moves.

“We are looking forward to building on a solid year in 2018/19,” said Head Coach Nick Drane. “We have added considerable depth to the roster and I am looking forward to seeing our players develop”

Itchen College

South Conference Coach of the Year Matt Guymon led his Itchen side to 2nd place last season, doing well to keep pace with Barking and their blistering record. To only finish a pair of wins behind the London programme was a solid effort, and certainly something to build on.

Much to the relief of the rest of the South Conference, Itchen can no longer call on the services of Jeremy Sochan, the talented wing has signed with US powerhouse La Lumiere High School in Indiana. All-Conference 2nd team selection Peter Turay has also left the team to head Stateside, joining NJCAA D1 outfit Lamar, with a total of eight players moving on from the programme since last year.

That said, Itchen have been working hard on the recruiting trail, bringing in Taiga Forster, Hadrian Basilio, Josh Sissons and Tyreese Hudson to bolster their number and hopefully ensure another solid season.

“We have a big turnover in personnel this year, which means we welcome a new and exciting group with a balance of new recruits and players from our club,” said Matt Guymon, Itchen’s Head Coach. “We look forward to developing chemistry and an identity with this group in what promises to be another competitive year in the EABL.”

John Madejski Academy

Coach Alan Keane led JMA to a solid 3rd place finish a year ago, keeping themselves in front of a charging Canterbury Academy down the stretch. Defeat in the opening round of the playoffs to Myerscough will have hurt, but the programme should continue to be a factor going forward.

With a trio of departures, including 2018 Deng Camp top 15 player Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo, JMA can still turn to players like David Obediah, Sam Grant and David Chive. Chive enjoyed All-Conference 2nd team honours a year ago with a stat line of 11.7ppg, 5.1rpg and 2.8spg, the talented guard will no doubt be looking for more of the same in 2019/20.

“What excites me most about the EABL this year is the group of players we will have,” said Keane. “With many new faces and some returning it looks to be an exciting group to work with. The journey will be unique and diverse for each player but no doubt challenging and rewarding.”

Oaklands College

An 8th place finish in 2018/19 means that Oaklands’ post season drought now stretches back to the 2013/14 season.

Toby Gastaldi-Davies and Simeon Douglas returning to the programme should provide a boost for the upcoming season, though the departure of Abdul Wurie alongside Jose Morais and Ola Olanrele must be negated.

The addition of Newcastle’s Jeremy Lieven, the North Conference’s Most Improved Player from a year ago, is sure to be a welcome addition to Coach Ryan’s roster.

“It’s been too long a hiatus for the men’s program in EABL playoff action,” said Head Coach Lee Ryan. “We have a good group with the right attitude to get us back to that level this season.”

USP College

Back for the upcoming season with a new name and a new focus, USP College will be looking for more in 2019/20. With 1 win from 18 games a year ago as SEEVIC, USP will be doing their best to beat that total in a strong conference.

Head Coach Dominic Ng has lost Zayamm Ali to Sunlive Basketball Scholarships, and Tendo Meseorise has also left the programme, but the retention of James Oldham and Kobbi Banks will help, as will the recruitment of Demi Adeyeye, a player on the GB U16s radar, plus Will Bose and Callum Legg.

“We are looking forward to the start of the season,” said Coach Ng. “We have had a solid preseason, now it’s time to come together as a unit and perform week in week out”

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