Stafford tabbed Preseason All-SoCon

Published 10:39 pm Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – On the eve of the Southern Conference’s first-ever virtual media day, the league office released its preseason awards and projections for the upcoming 2020-21 season, ETSU Women’s Basketball junior E’Lease Stafford (Lawrence, Kan.) garnering preseason all-conference honors after a breakout sophomore season.

Stafford, a three-sport star at Lawrence High School (Kan.) before selecting Johnson City as her collegiate destination, paces ETSU returners in a number of categories entering her junior season.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Blue and Gold’s leading returning scorer, Stafford’s 10.7 points per game last year was only improved upon during league play, as the do-it-all wing averaged 13 points per game in Southern Conference action thanks to eight double-digit outings and a career-high 29 points versus Western Carolina Feb. 6.

That same evening, Stafford drained a career-high six three-pointers, a night that anchored her Southern Conference-high 42.6 percent conversion rate from beyond the arc during SoCon play.

Stafford is also the Bucs leading returner in field goals made, field goals attempted three-point field goal percentage, blocks, and total points.

Also released Wednesday was the conference’s preseason coach and media polls and despite returning four of five starters, three of the team’s top four scorers, their top three in field goal percentage, two of their top three rebounders, and nearly 60 percent of the squad’s assists, ETSU was projected seventh in both rankings.

The Buccaneers haven’t finished outside the top six in the Southern Conference standings since the 2002-03 season, and have finished in the top half of the eight-team league five of the last six seasons.

The last time ETSU was projected outside the top half of the SoCon was the year they returned to the league.

Coming off a nine-win season in 2013-14 in which they logged six home wins, three away wins and lost to three-seed USC Upstate in the first round of the Atlantic Sun postseason tournament, Brittney Ezell’s team was slated to finish sixth in their inaugural season back in the Southern Conference.

Ezell’s team responded with the nation’s second-largest turnaround, winning 21 games, finishing second in the SoCon, and earning the school’s second WNIT berth.

Led by Ezell and Stafford, the Bucs, coming off a nine-win season in which they logged five home wins, four away wins and lost to three-seed UNCG in the first round of the Southern Conference postseason tournament, open their season Nov. 28 in Farmville, Va. versus Longwood.

2020-21 Preseason Southern Conference Coaches Poll

Team (1st-place votes) Total

1. Mercer (5) 45

2. Chattanooga (1) 39

3. Samford 33

4. Furman (1) 31

5. UNCG (1) 30

6. Wofford 24

7. ETSU 15

8. Western Carolina 7

2020-21 Preseason Player of the Year

Shannon Titus, Sr., G/F, Mercer

2020-21 Preseason All-Southern Conference Team

E’Lease Stafford, Jr., G/F, ETSU

Tierra Hodges, R-Sr., G/F, Furman

Jaron Dougherty, Jr., F, Mercer

Shannon Titus, Sr., G/F, Mercer

Aja Boyd, R-Sr., F/G, UNCG

Natalie Armstrong, Sr., F, Samford

Bria Dial, Sr., G, Chattanooga

Eboni Williams, Jr., F, Chattanooga

Lauren LaPlant, R-Sr., G, Western Carolina

Jamari McDavid, Sr., F, Wofford

2020-21 Preseason Southern Conference Media Poll

Team (1st-place votes) Total

1. Chattanooga (8) 115

2. Samford (4) 111

3. Mercer (2) 100

4. Furman (3) 89

UNCG (1) 89

6. Wofford 68

7. ETSU 52

8. Western Carolina 24

For more information on ETSU Women’s Basketball, visit and click on the women’s basketball page.