The Utah Valley University men's basketball team was selected to finish third by the media and fourth by the coaches in WAC preseason polls released Wednesday at the annual WAC Basketball Preview and Media Day at the Marriott Denver Airport Gateway Park.
Utah Valley senior forward/center Isaac Neilson earned preseason all-WAC first-team honors by the media and second-team honors by the coaches. Neilson returns to the team after nearly averaging a double-double last season at 9.6 points and 9.1 points per game. Neilson ranked second in the WAC in both rebounding (9.6) and blocks (1.6) last season. He earned WAC All-Defensive team honors for his play a season ago.
Grand Canyon was picked to win the league in both polls. The Antelopes received six of the eight available first-place votes from the coaches and 14 first-place votes from the media.
In the coaches' poll, New Mexico State was picked to finish second with CSU Bakersfield third and Utah Valley fourth. Seattle U was fifth, followed by UT Rio Grande Valley in sixth, Kansas City in seventh and Chicago State in eighth. The Wolverines did receive a first-place vote in the coaches' poll.
On the media side, New Mexico State received seven first-place votes and was picked second. Utah Valley earned three first-place votes and was selected third. CSU Bakersfield received two first-place votes and earned the fourth spot. UT Rio Grande Valley was selected sixth, followed by Kansas City in seventh and Chicago State in eighth.
Grand Canyon senior guard Joshua Bruan was selected as the preseason Player of the Year in both polls. Also on the first team in both polls are Eli Chuha (NM State), Nick Dixon (UTRGV) and Fred Sims (CSU). UVU's Neilson earned first-team honors on the media's first team, while Damiyne Durham of CSU Bakersfield earned first-team honors on the coaches' side.
Earning preseason second-team all-WAC honors by the coaches were Neilson, Shon Briggs (CSUB), Matej Kavas (SU), Sidy N'Dir (NMSU) and Brent Wrapp (CSUB). The media's preseason second team all-WAC included Casey Benson (GCU), Durham (CSUB), Jemerrio Jones (NMSU), Kavas (SU) and Wrapp (CSUB).
Utah Valley opens the 2017-18 season with an exhibition game against Dixie State at the UCCU Center on Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. The Wolverines open regular season play at Kentucky on Nov. 10, and at Duke on Nov. 11.
Jason Erickson works in the communications office at the Utah Valley University athletic department. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.