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USU basketball: men tabbed first by media, second by coaches in WAC preseason polls

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24 2012 5:09 p.m. MDT

Entering its eighth and final year in the Western Athletic Conference, Utah State men’s basketball was tabbed to finish first in the league by the conference’s media, while the coaches have picked the Aggies second, as the WAC’s preseason polls were announced Wednesday by the conference office.

Additionally, USU junior guard Preston Medlin was selected as the Preseason Player of the Year by the media and the coaches. He was also named to the first-team preseason all-WAC teams by both. Junior center Jarred Shaw was also chosen as the preseason Newcomer of the Year by the league’s media. The conference’s coaches also selected a second-team preseason all-WAC list, which included Aggie senior forward Kyisean Reed.

"It's early. We're only 12 practices in and as always, the preseason picks are a surprise," USU head coach Stew Morrill said. "We finished fourth last year and scrambled around to do that, yet we're picked fairly high in the pre-season polls. That's a positive in a lot of ways. It reflects on what's been done in the past and what our potential is. We have a lot of new players and a few returnees and we're just trying to mesh it all together. It's far from being meshed just yet. So we'll see how it goes as we get through this preseason and get toward conference."

This is the fourth year in a row Utah State has been picked first by at least one of the voting groups, being tabbed first by the media last year, along with being selected first by both groups in 2010-11 and 2009-10. It is also the fifth time in the last six years that an Aggie has been chosen as the Preseason Player of the Year.

"Preston is a really good player. He had a sophomore year that surprised lots of people," Morrill said. "We certainly knew he was a good player, but he probably surprised us even a little bit with the quality of year he had. As far as Player of the Year goes, what I'll tell Preston, and I've told a number of Preseason Players of the Year before, is it all really depends on our team's success. The actual Player of the Year at the end of the year is usually from the team that wins the conference. So if we've got a good basketball team, he'll certainly have the chance to be the Player of the Year. By good, I mean win-the-league type good. I think sometimes that takes some of the pressure off those players. It's not all on them. We've got to have a real good team for that to become a reality. It's a nice preseason honor for him, certainly."

Shaw's preseason recognition marks the second time in the last three years that USU has had the Preseason Newcomer of the Year.

The Aggies were selected as the preseason favorites by the media, receiving 232 points and 15 first-place votes. New Mexico State was picked second with 223 points and eight first-place votes.

In the coaches poll, NMSU edged USU by one point, with New Mexico State collecting five first-place votes and 77 points. Utah State also garnered five first-place votes but only 76 points.

In the media poll, Denver earned 181 points and one first place vote for third place followed by Louisiana Tech with 162 points. Idaho was fifth with 144 points followed by UT Arlington with 137 points and one first place vote. UTSA was seventh with 104 points, followed by Seattle (77) in eighth, San Jose State (61) in ninth and Texas State (54) in 10th.

Denver also took third in the coaches poll with 65 points. With 54 points, Louisiana Tech secured the fourth spot. UT Arlington (48) and Idaho (45) followed closely behind in fifth and sixth place, respectively. UTSA was picked seventh with 31 points, while Seattle U was selected eighth with 22 points. San Jose State (18) and Texas State (14) were selected ninth and 10th, respectively.

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