The La Roche men's basketball team was predicted to finish first in the AMCC preseason poll released this morning. Last season, the Redhawks tied for second in the regular season standings and advanced to the AMCC Championship Game. Rivals Penn State Behrend was predicted to finish second and Medaille College chosen third.
La Roche returns three starters including two that were named to last year's AMCC All-Conference Team. Overall, the squad will consist of nine returners, one transfer and three freshman.
Senior Arnes Bajgora is a two-time all-conference performer and the 2015 AMCC Newcomer of the Year. He is a 1000 point scorer and finished last season ranked fifth in the AMCC in field goal percentage (54.2%) while scoring 12.2 ppg and adding 6.1 rpg.
Junior Rayquan Phifer was an All-Conference Second Teamer last season and led the Redhawks in points per game, steals and was third in rebounds per game. He is one of the most athletic wings in the conference and should rank among the leagues top scorers in 2017-18.
Dion Etheridge will provide senior leadership and is one of the Redhawks' captains. He has been a contributor since freshman season and last season averaged over six points and five rebounds per game.
Junior Zach Gould is a three-year starter at the point for La Roche. He averaged double-digit points last season and was tops in assists.
Sophomore Trell Thomas ranked among the league's top freshman last season. He led the AMCC with a 48% three-point percentage and was the Redhawks' top scorer against conference competition.
Junior Darrell Barron returns from injury after averaging six points a game during the 2015-16 season.
Kennedy Smith will have three years eligibility after transferring from Thiel College. Smith saw action in thirteen games last season and was a WPIAL All-Section Selection at Steel Valley High School.
Tyler Frederick is a Butler High School graduate and a three-time WPIAL All-Section First Team performer. Frederick will see significant playing time in the post.
Austin Hannes and Evan Brown will contribute in the backcourt this season. Hannes is a Knoch High School graduate and was on the Big 56 All Conference Team. Brown played at Lincoln Park High School where he was a 2-year captain and an Esmark All-American.
The Redhawks open the season on November 15 at Capital University. Their conference-opener is on December 2 at Pitt-Bradford.