What You Need to Know:
* Georgia State officially began practice for the 2018-19 season on Thursday.
* The Panthers will open the regular season on Nov. 6, hosting East Tennessee State, an NCAA Tournament team from two years ago.
* Georgia State could play as many as six NCAA Tournament teams from last season during non-conference play this year.


ATLANTA—Coming off a Sun Belt Conference title, appearance in the NCAA Tournament and school record-tying fifth-straight winning season, the Georgia State men’s basketball team officially opened practice and preparations for the 2018-19 season on Thursday. It was the first official practice for the team and gave the Panthers about six weeks before their lone exhibition game on Nov. 1.

Georgia State finished last year 24-11, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four years. This year’s squad returns four starters from last year and more than 3,600 career points, 12th-most in the nation.

Head coach Ron Hunter has led the Panthers into postseason play five times in seven years since taking over the helm of the program. Georgia State finished in second place in the Sun Belt Conference last season, marking the fourth time in five years finishing in the top two.

“We had a great summer of preparation,” Hunter said. “The trip to Spain helped bring this team even closer together. However, now it is time to put the work in so that we can be ready when the season starts and later in the year.”

Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year D’Marcus Simonds will lead a group offensively that broke a handful of records last year. Simonds, who also earned AP All-America Honorable Mention recognition, set a school-record with 742 points scored while also leading the team in assists and steals.

Senior Devin Mitchell, who earned All-Sun Belt Third Team honors knocked down 98 3-pointers, just two shy of R.J. Hunter’s school record of 100, is one of four seniors returning this year. Mitchell is joined by Malik Benlevi, Jeff Thomas and Jordan Tyson. Statistically, Mitchell, Benlevi, and Thomas are among the top 3-point shooters in school history.

Georgia State enters the season as the most successful in the state over the last five years. The Panthers have won 110 games since the start of the 2013-14 season, the most of any NCAA Division I program in Georgia.

The Panthers will open the season on Nov. 1, hosting Georgia College in an exhibition game at 7 p.m., in the GSU Sports Arena. The regular season begins on Nov. 6, as Georgia State hosts East Tennessee State, an NCAA Tournament team from two years ago.

In total, Georgia State could play as many as six NCAA Tournament teams from last year, including as many as three-straight in the Cayman Islands Classic in mid-November. Also on the home schedule is renewing a rivalry with Mercer and welcoming former CAA foe UNC Wilmington.

Georgia State will play 14 home contests this winter at the GSU Sports Arena. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit GeorgiaStateSports.com/Tix.