At the state's lone Division II school, Bowie State, the men's basketball program held its own in the challenging Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association last season. The talents of the now-graduated Byron Westmorland (23.4 points, 6.0 rebounds per game during the 2012-13 season) and Najee White (13.7 points, 7.0 rebounds) helped Bowie State craft a 16-14 overall 2012-13 mark and break even (8-8) during league play. Even without Westmorland and White, the Bulldogs are picked to finish first in the CIAA's North Division. Head coach Darrell Brooks will rely on senior guard Ray Gatling (9.0 points per game last season) for production and leadership.
The Bowie women's team returns all five starters from a young 2012-13 team, which finished 7-18. Foremost among the Bulldogs' returnees is sophomore guard/forward Bria Robinson, who averaged a team-leading 11.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last season.
The NCAA Division III men's tournament could include several Maryland teams.
St. Mary's, which reached the Elite Eight last season, is a consensus preseason top 10 choice and the favorite to win the Capital Athletic Conference. The Seahawks return three of their finest players from last season's 27-4 team, including junior guard Nick LaGuerre (13.4 points, 3.9 assists, 1.9 steals per game during the 2012-13 season), senior guard Donn Hill (12.4 points) and senior forward Brandan McFall (10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds). Coach Chris Harney's squad will have an early-season opportunity to strengthen its case as one of the nation's best. The Seahawks will play two fellow Elite Eight teams, Cabrini and Middlebury, during the Nov. 22-24 Hoopsville Classic at Stevenson University.
Salisbury, who finished the 2012-13 season 19-8, is in the discussion for the Capital Athletic Conference title. The Sea Gulls lost top scorer Travon Vann, but return senior guard Tim Harwood (13.0 points per game last season).
Stevenson went from six wins during coach Gary Stewart's first campaign to 16-10 during the 2012-13 season. The Mustangs, picked to finish second in the Middle Atlantic Conference's Commonwealth division, return four starters. One of the top returnees is sophomore guard Christian Roberts, who earned MAC Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 14.6 points and 2.3 assists per game during his first collegiate season. Senior guard Alfonzo Hawkins (13.9 points per game last season) and senior forward Stefon McCray (13.0 points, 6.9 rebounds) will also be keys to the Mustangs' success. Stevenson will get a first read of the nation's top teams when it hosts the largest Division III on-campus tournament, the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic, from Nov. 22-24.
Now entering his 28th season at Johns Hopkins, head coach Bill Nelson might have one of his best teams.
The Blue Jays return several key players from the 2012-13 unit, which went 16-10 overall and 12-6 in the Centennial Conference. Junior guard Jimmy Hammer (12.2 points per game, 90 percent accuracy from the free-throw line last season) and junior forward George Bugarinovic (12.1 points, 7.1 rebounds) put Hopkins in prime position to compete for the league title.
McDaniel keeps getting better. The Green Terror, 14-12 last season, lost leading scorer and rebounder Tyler Rudd, but return talented sophomore guard Andrew Merlo (12.0 points per game during the 2012-13 season).
Led by senior guard Cameron Cook, Hood could contend in the Middle Atlantic Conference. The production of Cook, who averaged a team-leading 16.2 points per game last season, could determine the Blazers' success coming off a 14-11 campaign.
One of the state's most prolific Division III players resides at Frostburg State. Senior guard/forward Christian Jackson averaged 25.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game during the 2012-13 season, when the Bobcats finished with a 10-16 mark.
Johns Hopkins and Salisbury were the state's only women's Division III programs to achieve winning records last season. Coach Nancy Funk's Blue Jays, who finished 16-11 overall and 14-7 in the Centennial Conference, lost Alex Vassila, their top scorer and rebounder. But the solid backcourt of junior Stacy Fairey (9.4 points per game during the 2012-13 season) and sophomore Liz Tommasi (9.2 points) should lead Hopkins to another successful campaign. The Sea Gulls, who finished the 2012-13 campaign with a 15-12 record, have a terrific all-around player in junior point guard Anna Hackett (16.4 points, 4.3 assists, 2.3 steals per game last season).