2013-14 Horizon League Preseason Poll, All-League Release
INDIANAPOLIS -- In the closest voting in Horizon League history, Green Bay edged Wright State by a single point to be voted the preseason favorite to capture the 2013-14 Horizon League men’s basketball championship, while Youngstown State senior Kendrick Perry (Ocoee, Fla./Edgewater) was tabbed the Preseason Player of the Year in voting by the League’s coaches, media and sports information directors.
Green Bay (21) and Wright State (22) took the majority of the 46 first-place votes cast, but the Phoenix came out ahead to earn its first preseason nod since the 1995-96 season. Led by the inside-outside duo of Alec Brown and Keifer Sykes, Green Bay put two players on the preseason first team for the first time since joining the Horizon League 20 years ago.
Perry, who could become the 13th three-time first team all-league player in conference history in March, became the first Youngstown State player tabbed preseason player of the year. As a junior, Perry finished second in the Horizon League in scoring, 10th in rebounding, sixth in assists and second in steals.
Before taking part in a single Horizon League game, Oakland’s Travis Bader was selected to the preseason first team. Bader, who sits 101 3-pointers from J.J. Redick’s NCAA career record, averaged 22.1 points per game for the Golden Grizzlies, knocking down a school-record 139 as a junior.
Cole Darling rounded out the first team a year after earning second team all-league honors. Darling helped set up Wright State’s run to the conference finals with 11.3 ppg and 4.6 rpg before an injury sidelined him late in the year.
The second team was a mix of seniors and underclassmen, with Cleveland State’s sophomore duo of Anton Grady and Bryn Forbes joined by three seniors -- Milwaukee’s Jordan Aaron, Kamren Belin of Youngstown State and UIC newcomer Kelsey Barlow.
Grady, an All-Newcomer selection in 2012, lost his season to injury six games into the 2012-13 season, while Forbes emerged to earn 2013 Newcomer of the Year honors after averaging 13.7 ppg and hitting 38.9-percent of his 3-point attempts.
Aaron and Belin were both selected to the All-Newcomer team as juniors, with Aaron averaging 14.4 ppg and Belin 11.1 ppg. Barlow sat out last season after transferring from Purdue, where he posted 8.3 ppg and 3.7 rebounds per game as a junior.
Green Bay returns the contingent from one of the stingiest defensive rebounding teams in the country, allowing an offensive rebound on just 26.9-percent of chances for the opposition. Led by Brown and All-Newcomer selection Jordan Fouse, the Phoenix posted the best offensive and defensive rebound percentages in the Horizon League.
A year ago, Wright State returned just 36.9 percent of its scoring; entering 2013-14, the Raiders return 97.2 percent of their points and 91.7 percent of its minutes from a year ago, turning one of the country’s youngest lineups into one of the most experienced. The second-place finish in the preseason poll matches the Raiders’ best since 2009.
After an injury-plagued season, expectations are high at Cleveland State, which was pegged third for the fourth time in the last five years. Including the return of Grady, the Vikings bring back five starters and three high-impact transfers in Trey Lewis (Penn State), Jon Harris (Miami University) and Ismaila Dauda (Polk State).
Entering its first season in the Horizon League, Oakland was picked fourth in the preseason poll. The Golden Grizzlies play at one of the nation’s quickest tempos, averaging 69.7 possessions per game, 28th nationally last season. Duke Mondy, who led the nation in steals in 2012-13 with 3.03 per game, keys the Golden Grizzlies defense.
Led by Perry and Belin, Youngstown State will look to take the next step and contend for its first Horizon League regular-season crown. Under head coach Jerry Slocum, the Penguins have played at one of the quickest rates in the conference (68.1 adjusted tempo) while maintaining an offensive turnover percentage in the top 32 of the country.
The defending conference champion, Valparaiso lost 75.9 percent of its minutes from last year, including all five starters. Head coach Bryce Drew will be breaking in seven newcomers, as transfers Keith Carter (Saint Louis) and David Chadwick (Rice) join with a five-man freshman class.
After notching the program’s first postseason win in 2013 (first round CBI), UIC will look to mix in newcomers like Barlow and Jordan Harks (Central Arkansas) with starters Hayden Humes and Marc Brown. Last year, UIC reached 18 wins on the strength of its improved defense, something Howard Moore will look to replicate this season.
Head coach Ray McCallum will need to replace four starters from last year’s team, including his son, Ray, who was taken 36th overall by the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Draft. Michigan transfer Carlton Brundidge will likely handle McCallum’s duties, while senior Evan Bruinsma and junior Juwan Howard, Jr., will be counted on for scoring and leadership.
After a season marred by injuries and inconsistency, Milwaukee will hope a season of maturation for its young players and an influx of newcomers will help the Panthers improve on an 8-24 campaign. Aaron will anchor the backcourt along with Steve McWhorter (Indiana State), while sophomores Austin Arians and J.J. Panoske will be relied upon in the middle.
The regular season will start on Friday, Nov. 8, with six teams in action. Horizon League play begins on Jan. 2, with four games -- Oakland at Wright State, Youngstown State at Milwaukee, Cleveland State at Green Bay, and UIC at Valparaiso.
The 2014 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship is slated for March 4, 7-8, 11. The Nos. 1 and 2 seeds will earn a bye to the semifinals, with the No. 3 seed receiving a bye into the second round. The regular-season champion will host the second round and semifinals, with the highest remaining seed hosting the championship game live on ESPN or ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET as part of “Championship Week.”
2013-14 Men's Basketball Preseason Poll
|1.||Green Bay (21)||390|
|2.||Wright State (22)||389|
|3.||Cleveland State (2)||338|
|5.||Youngstown State (1)||219|