Two-time defending champion Oklahoma City University has a new head coach, but owns the same old spot in the Sooner Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll released Thursday.
The Stars are ranked No. 1 for the third year in a row and begin the season Saturday under new head coach Kevin Morrissey.
"There are high expectations at OCU," Morrissey said. "What Coach Harper and Coach Wade did was very remarkable. It will be difficult to repeat that. It’s an honor to be chosen as preseason favorites. We have talented players, but we lost a lot from last year’s team. It’s a difficult, competitive league."
The Stars were 31-7 overall and 18-4 in winning the SAC last season, ending the year on a 15-game win streak. OCU returns senior Marlon Jones, Richard Jackson and Na’Vonta Kentle and has added transfers Rodney Alexander from Illinois, JaMarcus Ellis from Indiana and Ricardo De Bem from Texas Tech.
The Stars grabbed 10 of the 12 first-place votes and finished with 120 points. Oklahoma Baptist had the other two first-place votes and finished second in the poll at 109. Rogers State was picked third with
99 points, followed by Oklahoma Christian at 81, Northwestern Oklahoma State at 80, Lubbock Christian at 66, Southern Nazarene at 60, USAO at 57, Wayland Baptist at 54, John Brown at 31, Mid-America Christian at 20 and St. Gregory’s at 15.
The Bison were 24-10 last season and return All-Conference guard Brent Jones and starters Al Moore, Aaron Perez and Charles Carter. OBU also picked up 6-5 forward Nate Brumfield, 6-8 forward Cicero Gonzaga and 6-5 guard Garrett Steinmetz.
Rogers State, 20-11 last season, narrowly missing the NAIA Tournament in its first year in the SAC, brings back All-SAC forward Roderick Rodgers, point guard Aldric Reynolds and forward Abram Donlon. Newcomers include transfer guards Deveric Taylor and Matt Kellogg, along with 6-9 freshman forward Soctt Farrington.
Oklahoma Christian should bounce back nicely as the SAC’s top scorer Jason Taylor (19.1 ppg) comes back, along with forward Kyle Tefft and point guard Jeff Crocker – last year’s Freshman of the Year. Andre Vaughn, a 6-5, forward, and 6-3 freshman guard Devin White look to break in this season.
Northwestern Oklahoma State brings back honorable mention All-American Brandon Brown and All-Conference forward Termaine Snyder and forward Felipe Eichenberger. New to Alva this year are Stephen F. Austin transfer guard Jason Rogers, 6-7 forward Brandon Dixon and guard Catrell Currie.
Lubbock Christian brought in Cal-Riverside transfer Benoit Bekono and 6-10 forward Martin Ombok, as well as freshman guard Jaden Isler to help out All-Conference selection Tommy Lane. Jacob Klockenga and Ken Hewitt are also back for the Chaparrals.
Third-Team All-American Brandon Durham is back for Southern Nazarene and he’ll be joined by newcomers Vladimir Bulut out of Eastern Arizona, 6-8 Irish freshman Shane Callaghan and 6-3 freshman guard Daniel White.
Tim Nelson, an All-SAC guard, is back to lead USAO along with returning Drovers Jorge Parra and Eli Flores. Newcomers include Pittsburg State transfer Rashaad Singleton, Eastern New Mexico transfer Jamaal McCoy and guard Calen Parks.
Wayland Baptist has Jason Griffin, Tyrone Crawford and Jon Hurt back in the fold and has added Valdosta State transfer Preston Eppinger, along with guard Rene Farias and 6-9 Joao Terra.
Cody Page returns to John Brown, who also has Jarrett McGriff and Davaughn Jackson back, to go along with freshmen forwards Aleksander Gacesa and Adrian Miller.
MACU has added 6-7 forward Tyjuan Wallace and juco transfer guards Dee Purnell and Willie Austin to a lineup that brings back Tyron Goldsmith, Josh Ball and Donnell Lewis.
St. Gregory’s returns guards Kyle Lulko, Derek Washington and Josh Coulter and has added 6-8 Central Arkansas transfer Drew Haymaker and junior college transfers Jade Carter and Warren Lewis.
2008-09 Men's SAC Basketball Preseason Poll