CHICAGO -- Fresh off a 30-win campaign and a trip to the NCAA Final Four, Wichita State has been picked to win the 2013-14 Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball crown. The Shockers received all 40 first-place tallies, marking just the second time in the past 25 years an MVC team was a unanimous choice to win the league.
Ben Jacobson’s UNI Panthers bring back two starters and a host of letterwinners for 2013-14 and appear to be one of the early frontrunners to contend for the MVC title. The fashion in which the 2012-13 season ended gives the Panthers great cause for hope going forward, as they
reached the semifinals of the CIT and completed their fifth-straight 20-win season.
Juniors Seth Tuttle and Deon Mitchell will lead the way as UNI aims to make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010.
MVC Preseason Poll
School (First-Place Votes) Total
1. Wichita State (40) 400
2. Indiana State 352
3. UNI 318
4. Missouri State 258
5. Bradley 244
6. Evansville 186
7. Illinois State 139
8. Southern Illinois 123
9. Loyola 95
10. Drake 85
Poll determined by panel of league sports information directors, media, and coaches.
The Shockers have a pair of student-athletes on the pre-season team, including MVC Preseason Player of the Year Cleanthony Early and sophomore Ron Baker. Early (13.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg) is one of two returning first-team selections from last year’s all-conference squad and Baker (8.7 ppg), despite missing half of the season with an injury, was a key cog for the Shockers down the stretch and during the postseason.
Jake Odum (13.6 ppg, 4.6 apg) of Indiana State is also a returning first-team all-MVC pick, and he is joined on the MVC preseason unit by teammate Manny Arop (12.0 ppg). Arop earned honorable mention recognition.
A pair of Bradley student-athletes represent the Braves on this year’s preseason squad, including Walt Lemon Jr., and Tyshon Pickett. Lemon Jr. (15.6 ppg, 75 steals) was a second-team all-MVC selection a year ago while Pickett (11.0 ppg), a transfer from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, was a member of the 2012-13 MVC All-Newcomer Team. Lemon Jr. was also on last year’s All-Defensive Team.
Desmar Jackson represents the Salukis on the preseason team after earning All-Newcomer and Honorable Mention honors in 2012-13 in his first year with the Salukis. The transfer from Wyoming averaged 15.1 ppg to lead SIU.
UNI’s Seth Tuttle and Missouri State’s Marcus Marshall round out the seven-player preseason first-team unit.
Tuttle (11.4 ppg) is third among all active MVC players in both career scoring and career rebounding, while Marshall, a member of last year’s All-Newcomer and All-Freshman teams, set an MSU freshman scoring record (368 points).
Drake’s Seth VanDeest was one of three players named honorable mention on this year’s preseason squad. He is the top returning scorer (9.5 ppg) and rebounder (4.8 rpg) for the Bulldogs, who have a new head coach. Ray Giacoletti takes over after serving most recently as an assistant at Gonzaga. He had previous head coaching stints at North Dakota State, Eastern Washington and Utah.
Pollsters have accurately predicted the league’s regular-season champ only 13 times out of 28 since 1985-86, but the pre-season favorite Shockers can take solace in that 25 of those 28 predicted champs have gone on to postseason play, with 17 of those 25 playing in the NCAAs.
The Shockers, meanwhile, have been picked to win the MVC three previous times since 1985, and in those years, they finished second each time. Wichita State does, however, own seven outright MVC crowns, fourth-best all-time.
2013-14 MVC Preseason Team
Ron Baker, Wichita State, So., G, 6-3, Scott City (Kan.) High
Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, Sr., F, 6-8, Middletown (N.Y.) Sullivan JC
Desmar Jackson, Southern Illinois, Sr., G, 6-5, Warren (Ohio) U. of Wyoming
Walt Lemon, Jr., Bradley, Sr., G, 6-3, Chicago (Ill.) Julian
Marcus Marshall, Missouri State, So., G, 6-3, St. Paul (Minn.) Johnson
Jake Odum, Indiana State, Sr., G, 6-4, Terre Haute (Ind.) South Vigo
Seth Tuttle, UNI, Jr., F, 6-8, Sheffield (Iowa) West Fork
Honorable Mention Selections:
Manny Arop, Indiana State, Sr., G/F, 6-5, Edmonton (Alberta) Gonzaga
Tyshon Pickett, Bradley, Sr., F, 6-6, Passaic (N.Y.) High
Seth VanDeest, Drake, Sr., C, 6-11, Bettendorf (Iowa) High