The Mountain West released its men’s basketball preseason media poll and All-Conference team today, as selected by a voting panel comprised of Conference media.
Defending Mountain West regular-season and tournament champion New Mexico is the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the MW men’s basketball regular-season title again in 2013-14. The Lobos received 23-of-24 first-place votes and 263 points to garner the top spot in the poll. UNLV claimed the remaining first-place vote and 214 points to tie with Boise State for second place, while San Diego State garnered 212 points to finish fourth. Mountain West newcomer Utah State collected 156 points for fifth place, followed by Colorado State in sixth (142 points) and Wyoming (112 points) in seventh. Rounding out the poll were Fresno State (96 points) in eighth place, Nevada (84 points) in ninth, Air Force (61 points) in 10th and MW newcomer San José State (30 points) in 11th.
New Mexico amassed a 29-6 record overall and a 13-3 mark in Mountain West action last season en route to capturing its fourth MW regular-season title and third MW tournament crown. The Lobos claimed the league’s automatic bid, earning their second straight NCAA tournament appearance and sixth consecutive postseason berth overall. Four starters return among six letterwinners for first-year head coach Craig Neal, led by 2012-13 MW Player of the Year Kendall Williams (Sr., G) and fellow All-MW performer Alex Kirk (Jr., C).
UNLV posted a third-place effort (10-6) in regular-season Conference play a year ago and closed out the 2012-13 campaign with a 25-10 overall mark. The Runnin’ Rebels made their seventh consecutive postseason appearance, receiving an at-large berth to the 2013 NCAA tournament. Six letterwinners, including two starters, return under the direction of third-year head coach Dave Rice. The Rebels are led by 2012-13 MW Defensive Player of the Year Khem Birch (Jr., F) and junior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones.
Boise State returns all five starters among nine letterwinners from a 2012-13 squad that compiled a 21-11 overall record and tied for fourth place in MW action with a 9-7 mark. The Broncos advanced to the postseason for the fourth time in six years, earning the program’s first NCAA at-large bid with an invitation to the 2013 tournament. Headlining Boise State’s cast of returnees for fourth-year head coach Leon Rice are All-MW honorees Anthony Drmic (Jr., G/F) and Derrick Marks (Jr., G).
Due to a tie in the balloting, six players were chosen for the 2013-14 Preseason All-MW Team, with two seniors and four juniors representing four institutions. New Mexico’s Kendall Williams received Preseason MW Player of the Year honors, while San Diego State’s Josh Davis garnered Preseason Newcomer of the Year accolades. UNLV's Kendall Smith earned Preseason Freshman of the Year kudos.
The Mountain West will begin its 15th season of basketball competition on Friday, November 8.
|2013-14 MOUNTAIN WEST MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL|
|Rk.||Team (1st-Place Votes)||Points|
|1.||New Mexico (23)||263|
|4.||San Diego State||212|
|11.||San José State||30|
|2013-14 MOUNTAIN WEST MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON MEDIA ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM|
|Anthony Drmic||Jr.||G/F||Boise State|
|Derrick Marks||Jr.||G||Boise State|
|Alex Kirk||Jr.||C||New Mexico|
|Kendall Williams||Sr.||G||New Mexico|
Preseason Player of the Year: Kendall Williams, Sr., G, New Mexico
Preseason Newcomer of the Year: Josh Davis, Sr., F, San Diego State
Preseason Freshman of the Year: Kendall Smith, G, UNLV
2013-14 MOUNTAIN WEST MEN'S BASKETBALL ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM PROFILES
Preseason Player of the Year
Kendall Williams (6-4, 180, Sr., G, New Mexico) - Three-year starter who received Associated Press All-American honorable mention last season in addition to being named the 2012-13 MW Player of the Year. A two-time All-MW honoree, he is only the second player in league history to earn both MW Freshman and Player of the Year honors in a career (Andrew Bogut, Utah). Ranked among league leaders in seven different categories for Conference-only games in 2012-13. Was second in assists (5.3 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5), eighth in steals (1.8 spg) and minutes played (33.9 mpg), ninth in free throw percentage (.706), 10th in 3-pointers made (1.7 pg) and tied for 10th in scoring (13.1 ppg). Recorded at least three assists in all 15 MW games he played, including nine contests with five or more. Netted double-figure scoring in 10 MW games, highlighted by a career-high 46 points at Colorado State on Feb. 23, 2013.
Anthony Drmic (6-6, 196, Jr., G/F, Boise State) - Second-team All-MW honoree who led the Mountain West with an 18.8 scoring average in Conference play in 2012-13, netting double figures in 14 of 16 games. A three-year starter, he also ranked third in the MW in 3-pointers made (2.31 pg) and free throw percentage (.828), and fifth in overall (.449) and 3-point (.374) field goal percentage (.449) during league action last season.
Derrick Marks (6-3, 206, Jr., G, Boise State) - Garnered All-MW second-team kudos in 2012-13 after ranking among league leaders in field goal shooting (.494/2nd), scoring (16.5 ppg/4th), steals (1.4 spg/4th), free throw percentage (.788/5th) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.07/7th). Netted two 30-point performances in MW play in 2012-13, including a career-best 38 vs. Colorado State on Mar. 2, 2013.
Deonte Burton (6-1, 190, Sr., G, Nevada) - Earned All-MW third-team accolades in 2012-13. Led the Wolf Pack with a 16.1 scoring average in Conference play, ranking sixth in the MW. Averaged a league-best 37.7 minutes per game against Conference competition while also ranking fourth in assists (4.0 apg) and sixth in field goal percentage (.443) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.52). Has started all 98 games in his Nevada career.
Alex Kirk (7-0, 245, Jr., C, New Mexico) - Received All-MW second-team, USBWA All-District and MW All-Defensive team honors in 2012-13 after sitting out the 2011-12 campaign following back surgery. Played for USA Basketball at the 2013 World University Games. Top returning rebounder in the Mountain West, ranking third in rebounding (8.8 rpg) and 13th in scoring (12.9 ppg) in Conference-only action in 2012-13. Was also second in the league with 36 blocked shots in MW play.
Khem Birch (6-9, 220, Jr., F, UNLV) - Tabbed the 2012-13 MW Defensive Player of the Year and a MW All-Defensive Team selection. Blocked a league-high 48 shots in MW competition last season, averaging 3.0 rejections per game. Also contributed 7.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game (12th in the league) against Conference opponents to receive All-MW honorable mention.
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Josh Davis (6-8, 215, Sr., F, San Diego State) - Eligible to play in 2013-14 after receiving his undergraduate degree from Tulane. Ranked fourth in the NCAA in double-doubles (19) and eighth in rebounding (10.7) in 2012-13. Also averaged 17.6 points and shot 49.2 percent from the field en route to earning first-team all-conference honors.
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Kendall Smith (6-2, 180, G, UNLV) - Ranked as a Top-100 recruit by ESPN.com. Averaged 27.5 points, 6.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game, while shooting 46 percent from the field as a senior at Deer Valley High School in Antioch, Calif. Played in 27 games as a senior, recording 25 or more points on 12 occasions with a season-high of 52.