Published October 15, 2013
My preaseason Horizon League ballot was due Monday, even though Youngstown State's first basketball game isn't until Nov. 8.
Unlike last year, when seemingly every top player returned, this year's ballot was tricky. You ask questions like, "How are Oakland's players going to do on a nightly basis?" and "Should any of the top Division I transfers get a preseason vote" and "Is anyone going to read this blog entry when the football team is 6-1 and basketball season doesn't start for another month?"
My answers, in order:
1. The best Oakland players will do just fine.
I'm one of three Youngstown media members who votes on league honors (If memory serves, radio play-by-play announcer Robb Schmidt and WKBN sportcaster/TV play-by-play announcer Chad Krispinsky are the others). Youngstown State's sports information director, Trevor Parks, also voted, as did head coach Jerry Slocum. (Slocum was not allowed to vote for his own players, but he was allowed to vote for his own team. He said last week that he voted Wright State No. 1).
Here's my ballot:
1. Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State: Easy choice for preseason player of the year. A two-time first team all-Horizon League player, he was arguably the league's second best player last season behind Detroit guard Ray McCallum, who left for the NBA after his junior year.
2. Keifer Sykes, Green Bay: A lightning-quick point guard who gave YSU a lot more problems than Alec Brown did at last year's game at Beeghly Center.
3. Anton Grady, Cleveland State: This is a bit of a projection, since Grady missed most of last season with a knee injury. But when he's healthy, he's a monster.
4. Travis Bader, Oakland: He put on a show at Beeghly Center in a first-round CIT game last March. He'll instantly become the Horizon League's biggest villain.
5. Alec Brown, Green Bay: Not as dominant as you'd like him to be, Brown is still a skilled big man who creates matchup problems everywhere.
6. Cole Darling, Wright State: Best player on (maybe) the league's best team.
7. Kamren Belin, Youngstown State: A deadly spot-up shooter, Belin told me he spent the offseason adding moves off the dribble.
8. Bryn Forbes, Cleveland State: Horizon League newcomer of the year last year. A bit undersized but works hard.
9. Corey Petros, Oakland: Gave YSU all kinds of problems in the first half of last year's CIT game.
10. Reggie Arceneaux, Wright State: This last spot came down to Arceneaux and Milwaukee's Jordan Aaron. I gave Arceneaux the nod because of the Raiders' success last season.
1. Cleveland State: Another projection. Gary Waters told everyone last year "You better get us now" and the Horizon League did. I like Wright State, but when you look at which team has the potential to be dominant in March, it's the Vikings. Tons of talent with a coach who loves defense.
2. Wright State: The Raiders return nine players and add Butler transfer Chrishawn Hopkins. They also have a coach, Billy Donlon, who isn't long for this league. I just don't think WSU has CSU's upside.
3. Green Bay: The Phoenix are capable of winning the league title, but I can't help but wonder if the noise around head coach Brian Wardle (he was accused of verbally abused players) will create some negative mojo.
4. Youngstown State: The Penguins lost the school's all-time 3-point leader (Blake Allen) and their all-time blocks leader (Damian Eargle, last year's Horizon League defensive player of the year), so there are definitely some question marks, especially on the defensive interior. YSU may have to outscore a lot of teams this year, but they've got the ability to play as fast as anyone in the Horizon League. I'm anxious to see if Shawn Amiker can shake off a poor second half and reach his potential.
5. Valparaiso: The Crusaders graduated a ton of players from their NCAA tournament team, but the program should be good enough to finish in the middle of the league pack.
6. Oakland: Two really good players and a ton of question marks.
7. Detroit: Like Valpo, graduation (and McCallum's departure) took a huge toll.
8. UIC: The Flames added Purdue transfer Kelsey Barlow but the roster is just too thin.
9. Milwaukee: This roster is even thinner.
Here are the official results, released Wednesday:
2013-14 Men's Basketball Preseason Poll
|1.||Green Bay (21)||390|
|2.||Wright State (22)||389|
|3.||Cleveland State (2)||338|
|5.||Youngstown State (1)||219|
Player of the Year: Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State
First Team All-League
Kendrick Perry, G, Sr. Youngstown State
2012, 2013 First Team All-League
17.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.1 apg, 116.2 ORtg
Keifer Sykes, G, Jr. Green Bay
2013 First Team All-League
15.9 ppg, 4.3 apg, 81.5 FT%, 108.5 ORtg
Alec Brown, F/C, Sr. Green Bay
2012 First Team All-League, 2013 Second Team
14.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 6.7 Blk%
Travis Bader, G, Sr. Oakland
2013 First Team All-Summit League
22.1 ppg, 4.2 3pg, 139 3pfg, 119.0 ORtg
Cole Darling, F, Sr. Wright State
2013 Second Team All-League
11.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 101.2 ORtg
Second Team All-League
Anton Grady, F., So. Cleveland State
2012 All-Newcomer Team
8.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 105.9 ORtg in 2011-12
Bryn Forbes, G, So. Cleveland State
2013 Newcomer of the Year
13.7 ppg, 38.9 3fg%, 108.3 ORtg
Jordan Aaron, G, Sr. Milwaukee
2013 All-Newcomer Team
14.4 ppg, 4.0 apg, 92.4 ORtg
Kelsey Barlow, G/F, Sr. UIC
Transfer from Purdue
8.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 3.1 Stl% in 2011-12
Kamren Belin, F, Sr., Youngstown State
2013 All-Newcomer Team
11.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 40.7 3fg%, 103.5 ORtg