The Dixie State men’s basketball team was picked to finish second in the 2017-18 Pacific West Conference preseason coaches’ poll released on Thursday.
California Baptist received 10 of a possible 14 first-place votes and 178 total points to be tabbed as the PacWest preseason favorite. In addition, CBU senior center Kalidou Diouf was voted PacWest Preseason Player of the Year.
DSU collected two first-place votes and 169 points to claim the second spot, while Point Loma picked up the final two first-place votes and 161 points to take the third slot in the poll. Concordia-Irvine (154 points) was voted to finish fourth, followed by Azusa Pacific (142) in fifth, Chaminade (132) in sixth and defending PacWest champion Hawai’i Pacific (121) rounded out the top half of the poll in seventh.
Dixie State senior guard Trevor Hill was named to the PacWest Preseason all-Conference team for the second-consecutive season. Hill, who earned first-team All-PacWest and NABC West region second-team honors last season, started all 28 games and finished the year as DSU’s leading scorer (14.4 ppg, 16th PWC) and rebounder (7.0 rpg, tied for seventh PWC). Hill scored in double figures in a team-high 21 of 28 games and led the Trailblazers in scoring 12 times. In addition, Hill led DSU in assists (135, 4.8 apg; second PWC) and steals (41) and was second in blocks (26), and he finished the regular season ranked 11th nationally in free throw attempts (226).
“I am really excited for Trevor — he deserves [this honor]. He has worked so hard to get where he is today,” said DSU head coach Jon Judkins, who is entering his 13th season on the Trailblazer bench. “It’s also nice to see what the other teams in our league think about us, though I don’t really look at the ranking at the beginning of the year. I like to look at them at the end of the year, but I am really excited about this year’s team.”
In all, the Trailblazers returns four starters and 12 total letterwinners, including six seniors, from last season’s 19-9 squad that made the program’s seventh NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament appearance in the last eight seasons overall.
Along with Hill, DSU welcomes back a pair of honorable mention all-PacWest selections in senior guards Brandon Simister and Kyler Nielson. Simister started in all 28 games last year and finished second among every game players (fourth overall) in scoring (11.3 ppg) and second in assists (3.5 apg). He led DSU in scoring seven times and scored in double figures in 17 of 28 games played, including a season-high 23 points at Azusa Pacific and 21 points vs. Point Loma.
Meanwhile, Nielson started in 22 of 28 games and averaged 10.8 ppg as a starter in his final 19 games, while he led DSU in scoring three times with 10 double-figure point outings overall. Also returning are senior forwards Zac Hunter and Isaiah Clark, along with senior guard Daylor Youngblood.
DSU also returns four juniors in forwards Quincy Mathews, Austin Montgomery and Dub Price, as well as guard Wade Miller. In addition, the Trailblazers welcome back sophomore guard Brandon Miller, who averaged 11.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in four November non-conference games last year before suffering a season-ending injury, and redshirt freshmen guards Tarik Cool and Preston Sanchez.
Five newcomers will join the Trailblazer program this season, including a pair of four-year transfers in former Cal State Monterey Bay forward Julien Ducree and former BYU guard Zach Frampton. Additionally, Utah prep standouts Devin Adams, John Gremillion and Josh Newbold begin their first seasons on the team.
Dixie State begins the season with a pair of exhibition games next week, starting with a renewal of an old Scenic West Conference junior college rivalry on Wednesday, Nov. 1, when the Trailblazers face Utah Valley in Orem at 7 p.m. DSU will also host Whittier College in an exhibition contest on Friday, Nov. 3, inside the Burns Arena at 5 p.m.
The Trailblazers officially open the 2017-18 regular season with three road in-season tournaments, beginning with an appearance at the 2017 CCAA/PacWest Challenge Nov. 10-11, in Pomona, California. DSU kicks off its 10-game home schedule and final season of PacWest play on Saturday, Dec. 2, with a date against Academy of Art at 3:30 p.m.
Steve Johnson is the Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations and Collegiate Licensing at Dixie State University. For more DSU Athletics news, please visit www.dixieathletics.com and follow Dixie State on Twitter at @DixieAthletics.