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Rhett Carter is one of four grad students on CMS this year (photo by Eva Fernandez)
Rhett Carter is one of four grad students on CMS this year (photo by Eva Fernandez)

CMS Men's Basketball Picked First in SCIAC, No. 23 in Nation in Preseason Polls

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball team was picked to finish first in the SCIAC by the league's coaches, and cracked the Preseason Top 25, holding down the No. 23 position, in preseason polls released this week.

CMS earned 79 points in the SCIAC preseason poll, as well as seven of the nine first-place votes, coming in 12 points ahead of second-place Pomona-Pitzer. Redlands was a close third with 65 points, with Cal Lutheran in fourth with 57 points.

In the poll, which is voted on by a panel of coaches, sports information directors, and media members, the Stags earned 113 points to place 23rd, with Middlebury in 24th with 96 and Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 25th with 93. Defending national champion Christopher Newport led the poll with 624 points, and 24 of the 25 first-place votes. 

CMS finished 21-5 last season, but ran into injury problems down the stretch with three key players missing significant action, and were upset in the SCIAC Semifinals by Redlands. The Stags opened the season with a win over No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor and had a strong resume, but fell just short of an NCAA bid. 

The Stags enter the new season hoping to reach that goal with a veteran roster that includes four graduate students, including returning All-SCIAC players Josh Angle and Rhett Carter, who return for their fifth season after missing the 2020-21 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Angle was a third-team All-American from D3hoops and averaged 21.5 points per game last year, while shooting 45 percent from three-point territory. Carter, meanwhile, averaged 15.3 points and 7.1 rebounds from his center spot, while shooting 58.6 percent from the floor. 

The Stags will also have power forward Matt Meredith back and healthy after an injury-plagued sophomore season. Meredith is a consistent triple-double threat, with career highs of 17 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists. He averaged 7.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists during a healthy freshman season, before playing in only eight games last year. Meredith returned at the end of the season to play in the last two games, after missing the previous 11, but wasn't at game speed and played only six minutes in the SCIAC Semifinal loss. 

CMS did lose key two starters in point guard Brian Kenyon, who led the nation in assist to turnover ratio, and swingman Kiran Kruse, who averaged 15.3 points per game, both of whom were first-team All-SCIAC selections. However, the Stags welcome in two graduate students who could help fill those roles. Will King averaged 6.0 assists per game as a first-team All-NESCAC point guard at Colby, while Caelan Jones, a Los Angeles native, was a rotation player as a wing at Division I Boston University. 

The Stags won't have to rely on the graduate transfers to fill those roles, either, as senior Max McCalla has been a regular contributor at point guard and took over as the starter down the stretch last year, finishing the year averaging 2.8 assists per game. James Frye began the year playing behind Meredith and graduate student Justin Pratt at forward, but became the starter when both Meredith and Pratt were hurt and averaged 6.7 points per game, with a high of 19 on 8-of-9 shooting against Whittier. With McCalla and Frye in the mix, CMS essentially returns five starters, even before the additions of King and Jones are added to the equation.

Depth also won't be an issue, as the Stags have several other pieces returning, including centers Cahal Connolly and Stuart McCallum forwards Lucas McEachern and Luke Jacobson, and guard Connor Printz, all of whom have received significant playing time in their careers. A talented seven-member freshman class also joins the program and will provide reinforcements at every position. 

CMS opens its season on Saturday, Nov. 11 against UC Santa Cruz at Roberts Pavilion, before traveling to face regional foes Southwestern and Trinity in Texas on Nov. 18-19. 

To view the complete SCIAC preseason poll, go to the following link:

2023-24 SCIAC Men's Basketball Poll

To view the complete poll, go to the following link:

2023-24 Preseason Poll