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  • Daniel Hooker

Catamounts Remain Among Mid-Major Top 25 Rankings



Western Carolina men’s basketball remained among the nation’s top-ranked mid-major programs this week, sliding into 13th in the Men’s Mid Major Top 25 from CollegeInsider.com and landing at No. 17 in the Field of 68 Media Network’s Cinderella Top 25 as released by both groups.

 

The Catamounts went 1-1 last week with a road loss at High Point before returning home on Saturday afternoon to knock off preseason Big South Conference favorite UNC Asheville, which had been among those receiving votes in the mid-major poll. WCU dropped two positions in the Mid Major Top 25 from No. 11 to No. 13 while slipping three positions in the Field of 68 poll from No. 14 to No. 17 overall in that group’s tabulation.

 

WCU has been ranked as high as tenth in the Men’s Mid Major Top 25 (www.midmajortop25.com) and made it up to No. 7 that same week in the Field of 68 poll released through its Twitter X feed.

 

The Catamounts are among four Southern Conference teams in the latest CollegeInsider.com rankings this week. UNCG leads the way, up to No. 4 in the poll while riding an 8-1 seasonal start, followed by WCU at No. 11. Furman and Chattanooga are both receiving votes in the poll. UNCG is ranked sixth in the Cinderella Top 25 with WCU at No. 17 the only ranked conference teams in the second tabulation.

 

The Mid-Major Top 25 by CollegeInsider.com is in its 25th season of existence and is comprised of teams from the following conferences: America East, ASUN, Big Sky, Big South, Coastal Athletic Association (CAA), Conference USA, Horizon, Independents, Ivy League, Metro Atlantic (MAAC), Mid-American (MAC), Missouri Valley, Northeast (NEC), Ohio Valley (OVC), Patriot, Southern (SoCon), Southwestern (SWAC), Summit, Sun Belt, West Coast (WCC) and the Western Athletic (WAC). Each week, a voting panel of 31 coaches selects its weekly rankings.

 

Mirroring the start of the 2020-21 Catamount men’s basketball team through the season’s first nine games at 7-2 which included the program’s best start as an NCAA Division I program (6-0), the Catamounts are led by senior Vonterius Woolbright. The versatile guard continues to pace the Southern Conference by averaging a double-double having reached double-figure scoring in every game this season.

 

Woolbright leads the league in scoring at 22.2 points per game – tied for seventh in the NCAA and the only player in the conference over the 20-point threshold at present – and in rebounding at 11.3 rebounds per game, a mark that ranks him fifth nationally. His career-best 35 points and 13 rebounds points at Gardner-Webb continue to rank as the most by an individual in the SoCon this season. He also ranks third in the SoCon in assists, doling out right at five helpers per game, and is fifth in field goal percentage at 49.7 percent.

 

Woolbright is surrounded by three teammates also averaging double-digit scoring with sophomore DJ Campbel at 12.2 ppg (20th in the SoCon), senior guard Tre Jackson (11.0 ppg, 23rd), and senior guard Russell Jones Jr. (10.6 ppg, 24th). Jackson additionally ranks fourth in the league with 2.4 made 3-pointers per game, while defensively Charles Lampten ranks fifth with 1.3 blocked shots per game.

 

Western Carolina is idle in the midweek during the final exam break before returning to action this Saturday, Dec. 16, as the Catamounts venture to Spartanburg, S.C., to face USC Upstate in a late-afternoon tilt at the G.B. Hodge Center. Picked sixth in the preseason, USC Upstate is the fourth-consecutive Big South Conference opponent the Catamounts face consecutively. Tip-off between WCU and Spartans is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

 

Saturday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with live streaming audio from the Catamount Sports Network and live stats available online at CatamountSports.com. Fans locally can also hear Saturday’s CSN broadcast on 105.7 FM / 540 AM WRGC “The River” in Sylva with pregame beginning at 4 p.m.

 

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