Hampden-Sydney basketball earns top rank for ODAC

Published 2:38 am Sunday, October 29, 2023

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Last year was a fantastic ride for the Hampden-Sydney Tigers, competing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. That was the team’s first NCAA tournament game in more than a decade and just its fourth 20-win season in more than 20 years. Now it’s time to break another longstanding record. 

For the first time since the 2003-04 season, the Tigers have been picked first in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll. The Garnet & Grey earned 140 points, including eight out of 14 first-place votes. 

“We are excited about returning so much of last year’s team, but we certainly don’t assume that our experience guarantees us anything,” said fifth-year head coach Caleb Kimbrough, also the reigning ODAC Coach of the Year. “We have a confidence and sense of urgency in our approach to practice, and we will continue to work to get the most out of this group. This will be a fun team to watch!”

H-SC is followed closely in the preseason poll by four-time defending ODAC Tournament Champion Randolph-Macon College in second place with 135 points, including the other five first-place votes. Guilford (NC) College was picked third with 122 points, followed by Virginia Wesleyan University (104), Washington and Lee University (102), Roanoke College (96), Bridgewater College (65), Shenandoah University (63), Averett University (51), Ferrum College (48), the University of Lynchburg (45), Eastern Mennonite University (23) and Randolph College (20).

Let’s talk about the team 

The Tigers return 14 team members from last season, including all five starters, while adding seven newcomers for this year. Returning starters include fifth-year Ryan Clements, along with seniors Adam Brazil, Josiah Hardy, Davidson Hubbard and DJ Wright. In addition, fifth-years Miles Harris and Chase Turner, senior Alex Elliott and junior Ayman McGowan each played 10-plus minutes per game, while Elliott earned some starts, as well.

Hubbard, a 6-5 forward, started 28 games while averaging team-highs of 14.6 points and 9.0 rebounds. He led the ODAC in both rebounding and double-doubles, with 14, good enough to rank 20th nationally. 

Brazil, a 5-10 guard and a Second Team All-ODAC selection, started all 29 games while averaging 11.4 points and a team-best 3.3 assists, along with a team-best 61 three-point field goals and 41 steals. Clements, a 6-3 guard and a Third Team All-ODAC selection, also started all 29 games while averaging 11.4 points and 4.3 rebounds with 40 steals. Wright, another 5-10 guard, started 24 games while averaging 9.2 points with 41 three-pointers. Hardy, a 6-6 guard/forward, started all 29 games, as well, while averaging 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. Elliott, a 6-4 guard, started five games while averaging 6.9 points and 4.2 rebounds, while McGowan, another 6-4 guard, averaged 5.0 points with 35 three-pointers.

A look back for Hampden-Sydney

The 22 overall wins a year ago, and the 14 ODAC wins (14-2), are the most under Kimbrough since he took over prior to the 2019-20 season, and also the program’s highest win totals since 2012-13 (23-5, 14-2)-the last previous season that Hampden-Sydney had advanced to the NCAA Tournament, as well. Coach Kimbrough, also last year’s NABC District 6 Coach of the Year, is aided once-again this season by fifth-year assistant coach Bryson Gibson and second-year assistant coach Carson Long.

H-SC will open the campaign at home in a non-conference contest against defending Division III National Champion Christopher Newport University on Wednesday, November 8. That’ll take place at 7 p.m. in S. Douglas Fleet Gymnasium at Kirby Field House. The Tigers and Captains split two games last season with H-SC winning 85-70 on December 13, 2022 in Newport News, and CNU winning 72-59 on March 4 in Fleet Gym during the second round of the NCAA Tournament.