2023-24 North Carolina Sports Network
NC Basketball Spotlight, 10-Year Snapshot:
Elon University

By Ben McCormick
North Carolina Sports Network

School: Elon University

Location: Elon, N.C.

NCAA Division I Member Since: 1999-2000

Conference: Coastal Athletic Association (CAA)

CAA Member Since: 2014-15

CAA Ranking Among 32 Leagues (KenPom): 26th (2023), 14th (2022), 19th (2021), 18th (2020)

NCAA Tournament Bids: 0

Conference Titles: 0

Conference 1st-Place Finishes: 0

Head Coach: Billy Taylor (50 years old, 2nd season at Elon)

As A Player: Notre Dame (1991-95)

Record as Head Coach (Through Dec. 28): 179-198 in 12+ D1 seasons

Previous Head Coaching Experience: Lehigh (2002-07), Ball State (2007-13), D2 Belmont Abbey (2016-19)

College AC Experience: Notre Dame (1998-99), UNC Greensboro (1999-2002), Iowa (2013-16 and 2019-22)

Assistant Under: John MacLeod, Fran McCaffery

2022-23 Record: 8-24, 6-12 (9th in 13-team CAA)

2023-24 Preseason Prediction (Coaches): 10th in 14-team CAA

2023-24 Record (Through Dec. 28): 6-6, 0-0 CAA

2023-24 Midseason Ranking (KenPom): #299 nationally (10th in CAA)

Upcoming Schedule Highlights: Valparaiso (12/29), Drexel (1/13), UNC Wilmington (1/18)

CAA Opener: at William & Mary (1/4)

After Mike Schrage resigned from Elon after three seasons to be a part of Jon Scheyer’s first coaching staff at Duke in 2022-23, the Phoenix turned to experienced head coach Billy Taylor with the task of stitching together a roster for a program that hasn’t been invited to a postseason tournament since 2013.

While Taylor was able to return about 27 percent of the scoring and minutes played from Schrage’s final roster, he ultimately brought in the Phoenix’s top players himself.

That list included Sean Halloran, who followed his former head coach to Elon after three seasons at Belmont Abbey, a Division Two program. Halloran led the Phoenix in scoring last season with 13 points per game, but that marked his final year of college eligibility.

Taylor’s first year as Elon’s front man was rough overall, as the Phoenix ended with an 8-24 record, but they were able to showcase some of the promising young talent Taylor had brought into the program.

Most notably, Australian guard Max Mackinnon was a bright spot; he ultimately earned the 2023 Rookie of the Year honor in what’s now called the Coastal Athletic Association. Tabbed as a preseason second-team All-CAA pick in 2023-24, Mackinnon is once again a key player for the Phoenix.

To start the season, the Phoenix have had a balanced scoring attack, with five players averaging above or close to 10 points per game.

Despite some defensive struggles, the newcomers have been paramount for Elon.

“In a lot of ways, (this season is) still foundational,” Taylor said. “With all the new guys, we’ve got 12 of our 16 guys are freshman or sophomores, so we’re still a really young team.”

Northwest Florida State College transfer TK Simpkins leads the team in scoring, and three of the top four scorers are in their first year on the squad, including freshman forward Nick Dorn (son of former UNC/NFL gridiron standout Torin Dorn Sr.) and point guard Rob Higgins, a very experienced graduate transfer from St. Francis Brooklyn.

Elon’s start to the season has been rocky, though. Heading into their final game of the 2023 calendar year, at home against Valparaiso, the Phoenix (6-6) had only four wins over Division I opponents and were 0-6 in true road games.


2023-24 Elon Phoenix
(6-6, 0-0 CAA; through Dec. 28)


PG Rob Higgins, Gr. — 28 mpg, 10 ppg, 2 rpg, 51% FG, 83% FT, 42% threes, 33/18 ATO, 0 blocks, 10 steals
(6-1/179); 2023 St. Francis Brooklyn transfer (3-year starter); Middletown North HS, Middletown, N.J.

G TK Simpkins, So. — 25 mpg, 12 ppg, 5 rpg, 44% FG, 63% FT, 29% threes, 27/23 ATO, 6 blocks, 20 steals
(6-4/184); 2023 NW Florida State College transfer (reserve); Liberty Heights Christian HS, Brooklyn, N.Y.

G Max Mackinnon*, So. — 24 mpg, 12 ppg, 5 rpg, 49% FG, 67% FT, 42% threes, 30/24 ATO, 4 blocks, 4 steals
(6-5/205); 2023 CAA ROY; Australian Junior National Team member; from Brisbane, Australia

F Nick Dorn, Fr. — 21 mpg, 10 ppg, 3 rpg, 46% FG, 82% FT, 40% threes, 3/8 ATO, 2 block, 6 steals
(6-7/200); father, Torin Sr., a former UNC/NFL player; from Julius L. Chambers HS, Charlotte, N.C.

F Sam Sherry*, Jr. — 19 mpg, 8 ppg, 5 rpg, 56% FG, 75% FT, 50% threes (few), 14/12 ATO, 13 blocks, 4 steals
(6-10/220); 3-year contributor for Phoenix; from Cumberland Valley HS, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Key Reserves

PG LA Pratt, So. — 21 mpg, 7 ppg, 3 rpg, 45% FG, 63% FT, 31% threes, 32/13 ATO, 2 blocks, 13 steals
(6-5/185); part-time starter for Phoenix in 2022-23; from Lincoln Park HS, Columbus, Ohio

G Zac Ervin*, Gr. — 21 mpg, 9 ppg, 2 rpg, 44% FG, 80% FT, 43% threes, 9/10 ATO, 0 blocks, 4 steals
(6-5/201); 2023 CAA Scholar-Athlete; Phoenix starter since 2019; from Gate City HS, Gate City, Va.

F Kendall Campbell, Fr. — 11 mpg, 5 ppg, 4 rpg, 51% FG, 68% FT, 33% threes (few), 3/12 ATO, 7 blocks, 2 steal
(6-8/243); 2021 state champion at Milton (Ga.) HS; also Combine Academy in Lincolnton, N.C.; Atlanta, Ga.

F Deandre Smart, r-Fr. — 13 mpg, 4 ppg, 2 rpg, 63% FG, 87% FT, 6/13 ATO, 5 blocks, 2 steal
(6-6/230); 2022-23 medical redshirt; Loomis Chaffee (Conn.) School; New Hampstead HS, Savannah, Ga.

F Isaac Harrell, Fr. — 11 mpg, 2 ppg, 2 rpg, 41% FG, 50% FT, 0% threes, 1/2 ATO, 2 blocks, 4 steals
(6-8/195); 2x Arkansas state champion; 2023 all-state; from Jonesboro HS, Jonesboro, Ark.

*—returning starter (started at least 50% of current team’s games last season)

Elon Phoenix
10-Year Snapshot

Season — Overall, League (Place), Postseason

2022-23 — 8-24, 6-12 CAA (9th), no postseason (Billy Taylor)
2021-22 — 10-22, 7-11 CAA (7th), no postseason (Mike Schrage)
2020-21 — 10-9, 4-7 CAA (8th), no postseason (Mike Schrage)
2019-20 — 13-21, 7-11 CAA (7th), no postseason (Mike Schrage)
2018-19 — 11-21, 7-11 CAA (6th), no postseason (Matt Matheny)
2017-18 — 14-18, 6-12 CAA (7th), no postseason (Matt Matheny)
2016-17 — 18-14, 10-8 CAA (4th), no postseason (Matt Matheny)
2015-16 — 16-16, 7-11 CAA (8th), no postseason (Matt Matheny)
2014-15 — 15-18, 6-12 CAA (8th), no postseason (Matt Matheny)
2013-14 — 18-14, 11-5 SoCon (3rd), no postseason (Matt Matheny)

*—conference champion

NOTE: Please visit the North Carolina Sports Network’s 2023-24 profiles and 10-year snapshots for all 19 Division One men’s basketball programs in North Carolina.

Appalachian State Mountaineers, Sun Belt Conference

Campbell Camels, Coastal Athletic Association

Charlotte 49ers, American Athletic Conference

Davidson Wildcats, Atlantic-10 Conference

East Carolina Pirates, American Athletic Conference

Gardner-Webb Runnin’Bulldogs, Big South Conference

High Point Panthers, Big South Conference

NC Central Eagles, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

North Carolina A&T Aggies, Coastal Athletic Association

UNC Asheville Bulldogs, Big South Conference

UNC Greensboro Spartans, Southern Conference

UNC Wilmington Seahawks, Coastal Athletic Association

Western Carolina Catamounts, Southern Conference