South Dakota State, Wolters Headline Summit Preseason Poll
ELMHURST, IL -- South Dakota State is the overwhelming favorite to win the 2012-13 Summit League Basketball Championship according to the annual preseason poll of league coaches, SIDs and media. The Jackrabbits received 30-of-31 first-place votes (coaches may not vote for their own team) after claiming the 2012 Summit League Tournament title and representing the league in the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Scott Nagy returns four starters and eight-of-10 letterwinners from last season's squad that finished 27-8 overall and 15-3 in Summit League play.
SDSU guard Nate Wolters, the 2012 Summit League Tournament MVP and an AP honorable mention All-America selection, was the preseason choice for Player of the Year. The senior averaged 21.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game in 2011-12 and became just the fifth player in NCAA history to average 20 points, five assists and five rebounds in a season.
North Dakota State, which earned the remaining first-place vote, finished second in the poll with 321 points. Oakland, a CIT semifinalist a year ago, placed third with 310 points followed by 2012 Tournament runner-up Western Illinois in fourth. IUPUI edged Fort Wayne by two points for fifth while Kansas City, South Dakota and league newcomer Omaha rounded out the poll.
Western Illinois placed a league-high two players on the first team with Ceola Clark III, the only player in Summit League history to earn two Defensive Player of the Year awards, and Terell Parks. Fort Wayne's Frank Gaines, the NCAA's ninth-leading scorer last season, Oakland's Travis Bader, who ranked third in the nation for three-point field goals per game, and North Dakota State's Taylor Braun round out the top six honorees.
NDSU teammates Lawrence Alexander, The Summit League's 2012 Newcomer of the Year, and Marshall Bjorklund headline the second team. IUPUI's Ian Chiles, SDSU's Jordan Dykstra and Oakland's Drew Valentine also earned preseason all-league recognition.
After a record-filled 2011-12 season, The Summit League features four players who rank among the NCAA's top returning performers. Wolters and Gaines, both at 21.2 points per game, are the nation's fourth and fifth-leading returning scorers. Bader owns the NCAA's top three-point field goals made per game figure (3.44) and Clark is the second-best three-point field goal percentage (46.2) among returnees.
The Summit League finished last season at an all-time best No.16 position in the Collegiate Basketball News RPI ratings after peaking as high as No. 11 midseason. The league set historical marks for most Division I and non-league victories and recorded a .500 or better winning percentage against 15 of the 17 mid-major conferences. An all-time high five Summit League teams competed in postseason play and the league achieved its largest home attendance figure on record.
Seven Summit League teams begin their 2012-13 campaigns on Nov. 9, including an ESPNU nationally-televised matchup between South Dakota State and Alabama. The Summit League begins its 16-game double round-robin schedule on Nov. 29 ahead of tournament play, March 9-12, in Sioux Falls, S.D. At least 19 Summit League games will air nationally on Fox College Sports, including all tournament quarterfinal and semifinal contests. ESPN/ESPN2 will air The Summit League Men's Basketball Championship on Tuesday, March 12 at 9 p.m. ET.
2012-13 SUMMIT LEAGUE MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
|1.||South Dakota State (30)||390|
|2.||North Dakota State (1)||321|
Travis Bader, Oakland
Taylor Braun, North Dakota State
Ceola Clark III, Western Illinois
Frank Gaines, Fort Wayne
Terell Parks, Western Illinois
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
Lawrence Alexander, North Dakota State
Marshall Bjorklund, North Dakota State
Ian Chiles, IUPUI
Jordan Dykstra, South Dakota State
Drew Valentine, Oakland
Preseason Player of the Year
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
Courtesy: The Summit League