LAKELAND, Fla.—The Southeastern University men’s basketball team enters the 2018-19 season with some of its highest expectations.

For the first time in program history, the Fire were picked first in The Sun Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, voted on by each of the league’s head coaches.

Southeastern received seven first-place votes, with Warner, St. Thomas, and Keiser rounding out the top four, each receiving one first-place vote.

“This is a great honor for our program,” said coach R-Jay Barsh. “At this same time, this team will need to prove they are worthy of that ranking. Last year’s team winning the conference tournament laid a foundation for us to build on, and raised the bar for the 2018-19 team.”

Last season, the Fire won The Sun Conference Tournament for the first time in program history, defeating top-seeded St. Thomas, then beating Keiser in overtime. SEU went on to the NAIA Division II National Tournament for the second time in program history.

The Fire return starters Josiah Barsh and Jeremy Oppenheimer, along with Ismael Celestin, who played in all 31 games last season. Barsh is the team’s top returning scorer at 11.7 points per game, and connected on 44 3-pointers. Oppenheimer recorded 810 minutes, averaging 7.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

The 2018-19 season begins on November 6 with a home exhibition against the Martinique National Team at 5 p.m.