NORFOLK, Va., Oct. 24, 2019—Bethune-Cookman University senior forward Cletrell Pope was named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Men’s Basketball Preseason Player of the Year, the conference announced today. North Carolina Central was tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the MEAC this season.
All awards were voted on by the conference’s head coaches and sports information directors.
Pope, the 2019 MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, a 6-foot-9 senior forward from Northport, Ala., led the nation in offensive rebounds per game, and he finished 11th in defensive rebounds per game. He was the only player to average a double-double in the MEAC with 13.8 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. He closed out the 2018-19 season ranked second in the nation in double-doubles with 22. Pope finished last season among the tops in the nation in rebounds per game (third), defensive rebounds per game (11th), and he is fifth in total rebounds per game. Additionally, he earned MEAC Defensive Player of the Week honors eight times in 2018-19.
North Carolina Central captured its third straight MEAC Tournament championship last season under head coach LeVelle Moton. Moton and the Eagles finished 10-6 in MEAC play and 18-16 overall in making their third straight NCAA appearance, and they return four players and two starters from last year’s squad.
Bethune-Cookman was picked second, followed by defending regular-season champion Norfolk State.
Rounding out the rest of the preseason poll are North Carolina A&T State, South Carolina State, Howard Coppin State, Morgan State, Florida A&M, Delaware State and Maryland Eastern Shore.
Joining Pope on the Preseason All-MEAC First Team are Howard’s Charles Williams, South Carolina State’s Damani Applewhite, Coppin State’s Dejuan Clayton and Pope’s teammate Malik Maitland. Williams received All-MEAC First Team honors last season.
The 2019-20 season begins on Tuesday, Nov. 5, with seven teams in action.
The 2020 MEAC Basketball Tournament will be held March 10-14 at the Norfolk Scope Arena in Norfolk, Va.