College Basketball Preview: Seahawks coming off 1st postseason title

UNCW won the CBI last season

UNCW guard Shykeim Phillips. (PJ Ward-Brown / North State Journal)

Coach Takayo Siddle was named the Colonial Athletic Conference’s top coach last season after leading the Seahawks to first place in the CAA and winning the school’s first postseason title at the CBI. The third-year coach will have to replace his top two scorers from a 27-9 team.

2021-22 record: 27-9 (15-3 Colonial)

Top players: Guard Shykeim Phillips was named a preseason second-team CAA pick after averaging 11.3 points a season ago. Forward Trazarien White also returns having played more than 22 minutes a night as a freshman and averaging 6.9 points and 4.7 rebounds.

Key additions: Transfer small forward Eric Van Der Heijden comes to UNCW after playing sparingly as a freshman with Ole Miss last year. He played prep basketball at Raleigh’s Millbrook High.

Departed players: Guards Jaylen Sims and Mike Okauru, the team’s top two scorers, are gone, leaving a big hole in the Seahawks’ backcourt. So too are James Baker, who started all 36 games a year ago, and Jaylen Fornes.

Expectations: The Seahawks put together a season reminiscent of those UNCW had under former coach Kevin Keatts. Now Siddle, who coached under the current NC State coach with the Seahawks, will need to show he is capable of doing it again. That will be tough without Sims and Okauru. UNC Wilmington was picked to finish fifth in the CAA by the league’s coaches.