BEAVERTON, Ore. — USC Aiken standout forward Paul Larsen has been named a Preseason Honorable Mention All-American by the Division II Bulletin.


“It’s a well-deserved honor. Paul’s a tremendous basketball player and an even greater person,” USCA head coach Vince Alexander said. “Paul’s one of the best players in the country.”


Larsen, a 6-foot-6 senior from Mooresville, N.C., is coming off a dominant junior campaign, which was his first season with the Pacers after transferring from Mercer. Larsen started all of USCA’s 33 contests and averaged 12.1 points and 9.0 rebounds a game. He connected on 58.7 percent of his shots from the floor (155-for-264) and 72.5 percent from the charity stripe (116-for-160). Larsen was also third on the team in blocks (19) and fourth in steals (35).


For his stellar 2012-13 campaign, Larsen earned Honorable Mention All-America honors by Division II Bulletin. He was also named to the Southeast All-District first team by the NABC and was selected to the All-Peach Belt Conference second team.


“When a guy earns this kind of recognition, I’m happy for him,” said Alexander, who added he’s looking for team-wide recognition. “It’s a very nice honor, and it will be even greater if we can win a championship. It’s great for Paul. I think he’ll be an All-American at the end of the season, and hopefully we’ll all be champions.”


Larsen’s impact helped the Pacers advance to the Elite Eight of the Division II NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. The Pacers finished the season with a 25-8 record, including a 15-3 mark in conference play. With Larsen a factor in the paint, USCA won the PBC’s regular-season and postseason tournament championships before capturing the Southeast Regional title.


The Pacers are expected to be a force again this season, recently being ranked No. 4 nationally by the Division II Bulletin.


USCA will open the season on Nov. 8 against P.R.-Rio Piedras, the first of three games it will play in the 2013 Mayaguez Basketball Classic in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Prior to that, the squad has two exhibition games against teams from the Southeastern Conference. The first is Nov. 1 at Mississippi (7 p.m.) followed by a Nov. 3 contest at South Carolina. Alexander expects his All-American forward to be a force against the Division I big men.


“Paul will hold his own. I don’t see Paul backing down. He’ll do a great job,” Alexander said, citing Larsen’s dedication to get even better in the offseason. “He’s worked hard. He stayed (in Aiken) over the summer and worked hard on the court and in the weight room. He’s improved his jump shot.”


Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.