UVU’s men’s basketball ranks first in preseason polls.
Kenzie Jones, Sports Editor, @KenzieScribbler
Photo by: Gabi Campbell, Photo Editor, @angelikagabriella
As the weather changes, so do the sports seasons and with basketball right around the corner things are looking to fall into place for Utah Valley’s men’s team for the 2014-15 season.
After laying claim to the Western Athletic Conference title last season in the team’s inaugural year competing in the conference, the Wolverines have quite the high standard to live up to. That shouldn’t be too hard to do with two returning starters and six returning letterwinners
During the annual WAC Preview and Media Day at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, site of the 2015 WAC Basketball Tournament, UVU’s men’s team was picked to finish fourth by both the coaches and the media.
New Mexico State is the unanimous preseason favorite as it received 49 points and seven first-place votes to beat out Seattle U for top spot on the coaches’ poll. The Redhawks claim second place with 38 points and the final first-place vote. Grand Canyon rounds out the top of the eight-team field with 35 points and third place.
After being sandwiched right smack dab in the middle, Utah Valley is followed by Bakersfield with 27 points and Missouri-Kansas City with 25 points, taking fifth and sixth respectively. The coaches’ poll this year ended in a tie between Chicago State and Texas-Pan American.
The media agreed with the coaches for the team favored to take the conference crown during the 2014-15 season. As well as Utah Valley’s ranking in this year’s preseason poll.
Flipping Seattle U (third) and Grand Canyon’s (second) placement above UVU as well as Bakersfield (fifth) and Texas-Pan American (seventh), leaving Chicago State to round it out in eighth place.
In a vote of the league’s eight head coaches, who could not vote for their own team or players, New Mexico State senior Daniel Mullings – reigning WAC Player of the Year – was chosen to taken top honors again as the conference’s best player and leads the list of preseason All-WAC honorees.
The First Team consists of Jerome Garrison (Grand Canyon), Martez Harrison (Missouri-Kansas City), Tshilidzi Nephawe (New Mexico State) and Isiah Umipig (Seattle U) all joining Mullings this year.
Daniel Alexander (Grand Canyon), Shaquille Boga (Texas-Pan American) DK Eldridge (New Mexico State), Clarke Rosenberg (Chicago State), and UVU’s own Zach Nelson make up this year’s Second Team.
Mullings and his All-WAC First Team teammates mirror the Coaches’ Poll in the Media Poll, whereas the Second Team had a few changes. Utah Valley’s Nelson along with New Mexico State’s Eldridge and Grand Canyon’s Alexander find spots on this year’s media’s team. Joining them are Aly Ahmed (Bakersfield) and Shaquille Hines (Texas-Pan American).
With last year’s preseason rankings proving to be inaccurate when the coaches’ No. 5 and the media’s No. 4 took the crown and completely reorganized the predicted rankings – apart from New Mexico State’s dual preseason fist place prediction turning out to be only one placement off. Not to mention that the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds ended up in seventh and eighth place.
Coming off a record of 20-12 and a conference record of 13-3, mixed in with last year’s conference title, the men of Utah Valley’s basketball team must be rearing to repeat last season. Being led by sophomore Nelson and seniors Mitch Bruneel, Brenden Evans and Chad Ross, the Wolverines have more than a fighting chance to take the WAC by storm again.
Sports fans should get ready to dawn their green and white to cheer on last year’s champs to another victory.
The Wolverines open their 2014-15 campaign with an exhibition game against Colorado Mesa at the UCCU Center Nov. 5. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. MST.
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