ELMHURST, IL -- After capturing its record fourth-straight tournament title and third regular season title in five years, South Dakota State was tabbed as the 2012-13 women’s basketball preseason favorite. The Jackrabbits collected 22 first-place votes and 330 points in voting conducted by the league’s head coaches, SIDs and media. Oakland’s Bethany Watterworth was selected as the preseason Player of the Year.

Last season’s Summit League Tournament finalist, Kansas City placed second in the poll with 260 points and one first-place vote. Oakland, North Dakota State and IUPUI were separated by just 21 points for the third through fifth slots with the Jaguars claiming one first-place tally. South Dakota edged out Western Illinois for sixth place while Fort Wayne and league newcomer Omaha rounded out the poll. The Mastodons collected the final first-place vote.

Watterworth, an all-league first team selection each of the last two years and second team honoree as a freshman in 2010, was the preseason selection for Player of the Year after scoring a team-high 18.7 points and grabbing 5.4 rebounds per game. The forward/center heads into the season ranked 14th in league history in career scoring (1,502 points) and leads an Oakland squad that returns three starters for head coach Beckie Francis.

Joining Watterworth on the first team are Kansas City teammates Kim Nezianya, an all-tournament team honoree, and Eilise O’Connor. The duo helped lead the Kangaroos to just their second appearance all-time in the championship game last year. An all-league first teamer last season, IUPUI’s Kerah Nelson captured a spot on the preseason first team, while North Dakota State’s Katie Birkel and South Dakota State’s Ashley Eide also earned the distinction.

The second team is highlighted by returning Newcomer of the Year Saule Kontautaite of Western Illinois. She is accompanied by North Dakota State’s Janae Burich, a second team all-league selection, IUPUI’s Katie Comello, Oakland’s Zakiya Minifee and Omaha’s Paige Frauendorfer.

The Summit League concluded a record-setting season a year ago finishing the year ranked No. 19 in the College Basketball News RPI, peaking as high as No. 11 midseason. The league sent a record four teams to postseason tournaments and set a new women’s league tournament attendance record.

The regular season begins Nov. 9, with the 16-game, double round-robin league schedule starting Dec. 28. The 2013 Summit League Women’s Basketball Championship will be March 9-12 at the Sioux Falls Arena in Sioux Falls, S.D. All tournament quarterfinal and semifinal games will air nationally on Fox College Sports with ESPNU broadcasting the championship game March 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

2012-13 Summit League Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll
Place Team Points (1st) 2011-12 Record
1. South Dakota State 330 (22) 24-9 (16-2)
2. Kansas City 260 (1) 22-12 (11-7)
3. Oakland 234 11-17 (7-1)
4. North Dakota State 221 11-20 (8-10)
5. IUPUI 213 (1) 13-19 (7-11)
6. South Dakota 151 23-8 (12-6)
7. Western Illinois 138 12-19 (7-11)
8. Fort Wayne 96 (1) 9-21 (6-12)
9. Omaha 43 15-12


Preseason All-League Teams

Preseason Player of the Year: Bethany Watterworth, Oakland
First Team
Katie Birkel, G North Dakota State
Ashley Eide, G South Dakota State
Kerah Nelson, F IUPUI
Kim Nezianya, F Kansas City
Eilise O’Connor, G Kansas City
Bethany Watterworth, F/C Oakland
Second Team
Janae Burich, C North Dakota State
Katie Comello, G IUPUI
Paige Frauendorfer, G Omaha
Saule Kontautaite, G Western Illinois
Zakiya Minifee, G Oakland

Courtesy:  The Summit League