NEW ORLEANS (GCAConf.com) – Dillard University has been chosen as the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference favorite for the 2016-17 men’s basketball season in a near unanimous vote by the league’s coaches. Dillard received six out of seven first-place votes (coaches may not vote for their own teams).
The Bleu Devils return eight of their top nine players from a season ago, when they won the GCAC tournament and advanced to the second round of the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Dillard was ranked number one in the nation by Sporting News magazine and 12th in the Preseason NAIA Coaches’ Poll.
Dillard’s Demetric Austin, the 2016 GCAC Tournament most valuable player and GCAC Newcomer of the Year was named Preseason Player of the Year. The 6-7 senior from Washington, D.C., averaged 20.2 points and 9.2 rebounds last season on his way to earning All-America honors from the NAIA.
Talladega College, which has advanced to at least the second round of the NAIA tournament in each of the past three seasons, finished second in the coaches’ poll. The Tornadoes picked up a single first place vote. They are led by last season’s GCAC Player of the Year Jordan Washington (21.4 ppg, 4.9 apg). Matt Cross once again has his team in the preseason top ten, and Talladega sits seventh in the nation.
Xavier University, heading into its first season under Alfred Williams, finished third. The Gold Rush were also a postseason qualifier last season, and enter the season ranked 25th in the NAIA.
The high-scoring Bulldogs of Tougaloo finished fourth in the GCAC coaches’ poll, followed by Edward Waters and Philander Smith in a tie for fifth place and Southern University at New Orleans rounding out the list.
Austin was also the leading vote-getter for the preseason All-GCAC team. He is joined by teammate Dennis Hightower (13.9 ppg, 5.8 apg), Washington, Philander Smith forward Chris Ward (13.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg), and Tougaloo swingman Andravious Smith (15.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg).
GCAC 2016-17 Preseason Poll (First-place votes in parenthesis)
1. Dillard (6) 48
2. Talladega (1) 43
3. Xavier 30
4. Tougaloo 23
5. Edward Waters 20
5. Philander Smith 20
7. SUNO 11
2016-17 Preseason All-GCAC Team
Demtric Austin, Dillard
Dennis Hightower, Dillard
Chris Ward, Philander Smith
Jordan Washington, Talladega
Andravious Smith, Tougaloo
Others receiving votes: Oceann Maddox, Edward Waters; Keith Williams, Edward Waters; Qua Doster, Talladega; Jarmell Anderson, Tougaloo
GCAC Preseason Player of the Year
Demetric Austin, Dillard