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Men's Basketball Preseason Poll, All-League Release (Oct. 9)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Defending Horizon League regular season champion Valparaiso was voted the preseason favorite to capture the 2012-13 Horizon League men’s basketball championship, while Detroit junior Ray McCallum was tabbed the Preseason Player of the Year in voting by the League’s coaches, media and sports information directors.

Valparaiso received 40 of the 44 first-place votes to earn the top spot. The Crusaders bring back the defending Horizon League Player of the Year, Ryan Broekhoff, along with First Team pick Kevin Van Wijk. Broekhoff’s 121.8 offensive rating left him among the top offensive players in the country, per Ken Pomeroy’s rankings (KenPom.com).

McCallum beat Broekhoff for Preseason Player of the Year honors by a six-point margin, becoming the first player since UIC’s Cedric Banks (2003-04) to be voted the preseason player of the year in consecutive seasons. The 2012 Horizon League Tournament MVP, McCallum was joined on the All-League teams by teammate Nick Minnerath, who missed last year’s championship run due to injury.

The only Division I conference in the country returning its entire All-League First Team, McCallum and Broekhoff were joined on the Preseason First Team by Youngstown State’s Kendrick Perry, Alec Brown of Green Bay and Van Wijk.

Perry led the Horizon League in scoring, averaging 16.8 points per game and adding 74 steals. At 7-foot-1, Brown dominated the low post for the Phoenix, putting up 13.2 ppg and grabbing 8.2 rebounds. As a sophomore, Brown tallied 89 blocks, including a League-record 11 on Jan. 14. Van Wijk emerged last year to post 14.1 ppg and hitting 61.7 percent of his attempts from the floor.

The second team was a mix of seniors and underclassmen, with Loyola’s Ben Averkamp, Damian Eargle of Youngstown State and Minnerath making up the senior class. Sophomores Anton Grady of Cleveland State and Green Bay’s Keifer Sykes rounded out the team.

Averkamp was used on 28.3 percent of Loyola’s possessions, averaging 15.4 ppg and grabbing 7.1 rpg. Eargle set the League’s single-season blocks record, recording 111 on the year. Minnerath played in just four full games last season, putting up 12.0 ppg. Grady was pegged as a potential breakout player by SI.com, recording a 105.9 offensive rating in just 21 minutes per game. Sykes emerged in the second half of last season to average 11.2 ppg and 3.4 apg.

Led by Broekhoff and Van Wijk Valparaiso was one the nation’s top-shooting teams, ranking 24th with an effective field-goal percentage of 53.4. Broekhoff will be relied upon after spending part of the summer training with the Australian Boomers ahead of the Summer Olympics. Laden with upperclassmen, the Crusaders return all five starters from last year’s regular-season championship squad.

A year after returning all of its letterwinners, Detroit will mix six newcomers into the lineup. Still, the Titans will return four starters, including McCallum and Minnerath. McCallum starred at CP3 Elite Guard Camp before heading to Deron Williams Skills Academy. The Titans will be poised to play above the rim with Minnerath and Doug Anderson.

Returning its entire starting lineup, Green Bay earned its highest place in the preseason poll since 2007. With Sykes speed at the point and Brown’s emergence in the post, the Phoenix will spread the court for shooters Brennan Cougill and Kam Cerroni. Cerroni’s 66.5 percent true-shooting percentage ranked eighth in the country.

Youngstown State skyrocketed up the poll to take fourth, having never been picked higher than seventh in the preseason. With Perry running the point and Eargle down low, the Penguins will once again ask Blake Allen to be the team’s top three-point threat. Allen averaged 12.3 ppg while knocking down 42.9 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.

After finishing in a tie for first in 2011 and second in 2012 in the Horizon League, Cleveland State will bring a younger look to the court this season. The Vikings are expected to rely heavily on Grady, who showed flashes in his freshman year, while Tim Kamczyc will shoulder leadership responsibilities as the lone senior on the roster. Despite a low-possession usage, Kamczyc was among the best shooters in the nation last year, ranking fifth with a 67.5 true-shooting percentage.

Milwaukee will turn to Jordan Aaron to replace Kaylon Williams at the point, surrounding him with veterans James Haarsma and Paris Gulley. Haarsma averaged 10.8 ppg while leading the team with a 5.4 rpg average. Gulley put up 8.5 ppg, becoming the Panthers’ most reliable three-point shooter by hitting nearly 40 percent of his attempts.

A year after a 1-17 League campaign, Loyola was voted seventh in the preseason poll. Optimism surrounds the Ramblers after a 3-1 trip to Italy this summer, allowing the team early practice. Cully Payne, who was an All-Big Ten Freshman Team point guard at Iowa in 2010, should provide stability at the point guard position, something that eluded head coach Porter Moser in his first season.

UIC will add seven newcomers this season, but two of those additions come with significant experience. Joey Miller was the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Week on three occasions before coming to UIC, while Josh Crittle started 25 games for Central Florida before deciding to spend his senior year with the Flames. The duo joins a solid nucleus of point guard Gary Talton and forward Hayden Humes, each of whom earned All-League votes.

Wright State will be the sixth-youngest team in the nation, with head coach Billy Donlon promising to play more up-tempo behind point guard Reggie Arceneaux. The Raiders will once again rely on their defense, as they ranked fourth in the country at defensive turnover rate, turning opponents over 25.6-percent of the time. Wright State has not been outside the top 20 in the category in each of the last four seasons. 

The regular season will start on Friday, Nov. 9, with six teams in action. Valparaiso and Detroit will both be featured on ESPN’s ‘24 Hours of Hoops’ marathon on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Horizon League play begins on Jan. 2, with UIC hosting Youngstown State and Loyola taking on Valparaiso.

The 2013 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship is slated for March 5, 8-9, 12. 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 9 p.m. ET as part of “Championship Week.”

2012-13 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll
Rank   School (1st)                             Points
1.         Valparaiso (40)                       382
2.         Detroit (4)                                332
3.         Green Bay                               283
4.         Youngstown State                  243
5.         Cleveland State                      230
6.         Milwaukee                               178
7.         Loyola                                     105
8.         UIC                                          96
9.         Wright State                            86

Player of the Year
   Ray McCallum, Detroit                                  

First Team All-League
Ray McCallum, G................................. Detroit
  2012 First Team All-League
  15.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 111.1 ORtg
Ryan Broekhoff, G....................... Valparaiso
  2012 Player of the Year
  14.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 121.8 ORtg
Kendrick Perry, G............ Youngstown State
  2012 First Team All-League
  16.8 ppg, 3.9 apg, 2.4 spg, 114.4 ORtg
Alec Brown, F/C............................ Green Bay
  2012 First Team All-League
  13.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.0 bpg, 9.8 Blk%
Kevin Van Wijk, F......................... Valparaiso
  2012 First Team All-League
  14.1 ppg, 5.2 apg, 61.7% FG%, 8.0 FD/40

Second Team All-League
Ben Averkamp, F................................. Loyola
  2012 Second Team All-League
  15.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 28.3 %Poss
Anton Grady, F.................... Cleveland State
  2012 All-Newcomer Team
  8.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 105.9 ORtg
Keifer Sykes, G............................. Green Bay
  2012 All-Newcomer Team
  11.2 ppg, 3.4 apg, 2.5 rpg, 27.0 Assist Rate
Damian Eargle, C............. Youngstown State
  2012 All-Defensive Team
  11.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.7 bpg, 12.8 Blk%
Nick Minnerath, F................................ Detroit
  12.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg in 5 games (injured)
  11.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 113.3 ORtg in 2010-11

Tags: Cleveland State - Men's Basketball · Detroit - Men's Basketball · Green Bay - Men's Basketball · Horizon League - Men's Basketball · Loyola - Men's Basketball · Milwaukee - Men's Basketball · UIC - Men's Basketball · Valparaiso - Men's Basketball · Wright State - Men's Basketball · Youngstown State - Men's Basketball
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