MAAC, Rider, Mervin James
Mervin James, right (Photo courtesy of Rider Athletics)

Rider Picked as MAAC Favorites; Mervin James Named Preseason Player of the Year

Rider University has been selected as the favorites to win the MAAC men's basketball title in 2023-24, per the Preseason Coaches’ Poll, released Tuesday morning. The Poll and Preseason All-MAAC honors have are voted on by the league’s 11 head coaches.

Rider earned 117 points and received eight first-place votes. The Broncs finished ahead of defending MAAC Champion, Iona, who received 108 points and a pair of first-place votes. Canisius, voted third, received one first place vote.

Two-time MAAC Coach of the Year, Kevin Baggett, enters his 12th season at Rider, looking to finally capture that elusive title. 

Rider last won a MAAC regular season championship in 2018, and the Broncs have not appeared in the conference championship game since 2008.

This year, they have a very skilled and versatile roster led by redshirt senior Mervin James who was voted as the 2023-24 MAAC Preseason Player of the Year. James averaged 12.9 points and 6.8 rebounds last year and is the only returning player in the MAAC to have ranked top-15 in scoring and top-five in rebounds a year ago. He is the only unanimous player selected to the Preseason All-MAAC First Team this season.

Joining James on the Preseason All-MAAC First Team are his teammate Allen Powell, Osborn Shema of Iona, Mount St. Mary’s Dakota Leffew, and Matt Balanc from Quinnipiac.

Below is the full poll and preseason honors list:

2023-24 Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1 Rider 117 (8)
2 Iona 108 (2)
3 Canisius 89 (1)
4 Siena 77
5 Quinnipiac 71
6 Fairfield 70
7 Mount St. Mary’s 59
8 Marist 48
9 Niagara 43
10 Saint Peter’s 30
11 Manhattan 14


Preseason Player of the Year
Mervin James – Rider


Preseason All-MAAC First Team
Player Position Year Institution
Osborn Shema Forward Gr. Iona
Dakota Leffew Guard Sr. Mount St. Mary’s
Matt Balanc Guard Gr. Quinnipiac
Mervin James* Forward R-Sr. Rider
Allen Powell Guard R-Sr. Rider


Preseason All-MAAC Second Team
Player Position Year Institution
Tahj Staveskie Guard So. Canisius
Caleb Fields Guard Gr. Fairfield
Isaiah Brickner Guard So. Marist
Paul Otieno Forward Sr. Quinnipiac
Michael Eley Guard So. Siena


Preseason All-MAAC Third Team
Player Position Year Institution
Xzavier Long Forward Jr. Canisius
Alexis Yetna Forward Gr. Fairfield
Joel Brown Guard Gr. Iona
Idan Tretout Guard Gr. Iona
Corey Washington Forward So. Saint Peter’s

*Denotes unanimous selection

College basketball season is right around the corner and Jersey Sporting News will provide updates throughout.

Gregg Snyder