The WKU Hilltoppers were picked to win the Sun Belt Conference in the 2013-14 men's basketball preseason coaches' poll, and T.J. Price was named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference First Team while George Fant was named to the second team, the league announced Wednesday.
This is the first time WKU has been picked to win the league in the preseason poll since the 2010-11 season. The Hilltoppers finished the 2012-13 campaign with a 20-16 overall record after winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and return four starters and eight letterwinners in 2013-14. WKU went 10-10 in the league a year ago, which was good for fourth place in the east division.
Four different teams received first-place votes in the poll. Voting was done by the league's 10 head coaches.
After being second- and third-team selections at the end of the 2012-13 season, respectively, Price and Fant each moved up one team in their junior year preseasons. Price led WKU in scoring at 15.2 points per game in 2012-13, which was good for seventh in the conference, and he upped his production to 18.0 points per game on WKU's run to the tournament title where he was named the Most Outstanding Player. He finished fourth in the league in three-point field goals per game and shot 35.8 percent from distance on the year.
Fant averaged 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore in 2012-13, which was good for second on the team in scoring and first in rebounding. His rebound total was good for eighth in the conference, and he was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference Tournament Team after averaging 13.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in four games in Hot Springs, Ark. Fant scored in double-figures in 26 of 35 games played, including 10 of the final 11 games of the season as WKU won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
WKU's 2013-14 season opens on Saturday with an exhibition game against Campbellsville (Ky.) at E.A. Diddle Arena at 3:00 PM (CT). The first 2,500 fans on Saturday will receive a free schedule magnet.
Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference First Team
R.J. Hunter (Georgia State, So., G)
Shawn Long (La.-Lafayette, So., F)
Elfrid Payton (La.-Lafayette, Jr., G)
Augustine Rubit (South Alabama, Sr., F)
T.J. Price (WKU, Jr., G)
Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team
Will Neighbour (UALR, Sr., F)
Brandon Reed (Arkansas State, Sr., G)
Ryan Harrow (Georgia State, r-Jr., G)
Joel Wright (Texas State, Sr., F)
George Fant (WKU, Jr., F)
Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Third Team
Ed Townsel (Arkansas State, Sr., G)
Jayon James (ULM, Sr., F)
Mychal Ammons (South Alabama, Jr., F)
Brandon Edwards (Texas-Arlington, Sr., F)
Hunter Williams (Troy, Sr., G)
Preseason Player of the Year
Augustine Rubit (South Alabama, Sr., F)
Preseason Coaches' Poll (first place votes in parenthesis)
1. WKU 91 (5)
2. South Alabama 78 (2)
3. Arkansas State 74
T-4. Georgia State 73 (2)
T-4. La.-Lafayette 73 (1)
6. UALR 48
7. Texas-Arlington 36
8. Texas State 34
9. Troy 26
10. ULM 17
2013-14 WKU Hilltopper Basketball By The Numbers
73.8 percent of scoring returns from 2012-13
68.7 percent of rebounding returns from 2012-13
17th in NCAA history with 1,679 wins entering 2013-14
9 wins in last 11 postseason games
8 players on the 2013-14 roster have appeared in at least one NCAA Tournament game while at WKU
3rd in NCAA history with 42 conference championships entering 2013-14
2013-14 Media Guide Available
WKU's 2013-14 Media Guide is available and can be accessed at WKUSports.com or downloaded via the following link: http://bit.ly/1ahbEK6
Season tickets for the 2013-14 season start as low as $99 for all 18 games at E.A. Diddle Arena, and single-game tickets are on sale as well. Fans interested in purchasing season or single-game tickets can call the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally, or order online at WKUSports.com.
WKU will have a limited number of tickets for the game at Louisville on December 14. Season ticket holders and Hilltopper Athletic Foundation (HAF) members have until Friday, November 1 to request tickets for the game, and fans may request up to the number of season tickets they have. Seating assignments will be based upon HAF priority rank. If seats in WKU's allotment are available after the November 1 deadline, they will be opened up to the general public for purchase on November 11.
Radio and Television Information
WKU games can be heard on the radio on the 15-station Hilltopper IMG Sports Network, and television information for the 2013-14 season will be updated at WKUSports.com as it is available. The radio affiliates for 2013-14 can be found at the following link: http://bit.ly/1eC18mc
Following WKU Hilltopper Basketball
For full coverage of WKU Hilltopper Basketball, visit WKUSports.com or follow the program on Twitter @WKUBasketball.
Upcoming Events in WKU Hilltopper Basketball
November 2: Exhibition game vs. Campbellsville (Ky.) at E.A. Diddle Arena at 3:00 PM (CT)
November 6: Sun Belt Conference Media Day teleconference (Ray Harper at 11:30 AM [CT])
November 12: Season opener at Wichita State at 12:00 AM (CT)