Shockers ranked 8th in pre-season AAC Coaches Poll

Wichita State men's basketball has been picked eighth in the American Athletic Conference in the conference's 2018 Pre-Season Coaches Poll.

UCF was voted the favorite in the conference.

Read more on the rankings below:

The American Athletic Conference men’s basketball head coaches have voted UCF as the favorite in the 2018-19 Preseason Coaches Poll. The Knights garnered six of a possible 11 first-place votes and 114 points to edge Cincinnati for the No. 1 spot.

UCF returns eight of its top 10 scorers, nine letterwinners and four starters from a squad that won 19 games a season ago. Preseason Player of the Year, senior guard B.J. Taylor, is one of five seniors on a team that ranked No. 3 in the nation last season allowing just 61.7 points per game.

Cincinnati, the 2018 American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament champion, was just seven points behind UCF in the poll and received three first-place votes. Houston, which reached The American Championship final last season, earned two first-place votes. The Cougars were also recognized with the Preseason Rookie of the year in freshman guard Nate Hinton. Memphis received one first-place vote and was fourth.

Taylor was UCF’s leading scorer last season with 15.9 points per game over an injury-shortened 16 games. The talented guard is expected to return to form and lead an experienced and deep team.

Hinton, a 6-foot-6 playmaker, is an ESPN top-100 recruit who could contribute on both ends of the floor and at multiple positions for Houston.

UCF boasts an experienced and talented group in 2018-19 that is ready to return to the postseason and the NCAA Tournament. The Knights are one of only two American Athletic conference teams with two preseason all-conference selections in Taylor and senior center Tacko Fall, the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. The duo, along with Dayon Griffin, Cesar DeJesus, Terrell Allen and Chad Brown, along with debut of head coach Johnny Dawkins son, Aubrey, a transfer from Michigan, have UCF set to race toward the conference crown.

Cincinnati is the league’s reigning regular season and conference tournament champion and set an American Athletic Conference record in 2018 as the highest NCAA tournament team at No. 2. While 2017-18 American Player of the Year Gary Clark and NBA first-round draft choice Jacob Evans are now in the Association, the Bearcats are still dangerous behind preseason all-conference selection Jarron Cumberland and head coach Mick Cronin’s always suffocating defense. Cronin will look to extend Cincinnati’s streak of eight-straight seasons in the NCAA tournament, the sixth-longest active streak.

Houston reached the 2018 American Athletic Conference Championship final and earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars went on to win their first NCAA game since 1984 behind the reigning American Coach of the Year, Kelvin Sampson. Despite the loss of the league’s all-time leader scorer in Rob Gray, Houston is primed for success yet again with the return of Sixth Man of the Year Armoni Brooks, preseason all-conference second teamer Corey Davis, Jr., and the Preseason Rookie of the Year, Hinton.

Memphis has been energized by the hiring of Penny Hardaway, one of the Tigers’ greatest all-time players as the new head coach. The Tigers have more than just energy to rely on, however, thanks to a strong returning roster and one of the conference’s top recruiting classes. Senior Jeremiah Martin earned a selection to the Preseason All-Conference team after averaging 18.9 points per game last season, the second most in the league.

UConn boasts the only unanimous preseason all-conference pick and one of three returning all-conference players from a season ago in Jalen Adams. The do-it-all guard has a head coach who made the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons as Dan Hurley takes the reins of the Huskies. Hurley will be able to lean on the highest-scoring duo in The American last season as Adams and Christian Vital combined to average 34.5 points per game in conference play.
Temple will enjoy its final season under one of the greatest basketball coaches in Philadelphia Big 5 history. Fran Dunphy announced that 2018-19 will be his final season but after leading his team to the NIT last year. With the continued progression of Preseason All-Conference first team selection Quinton Rose, the Owls could send their 13-year head coach off in style. Temple returns nine letterwinners and three starters from a season ago.

SMU battled through injuries last season and saw Shake Milton taken in the second round of the NBA Draft. With two preseason all-conference selections, the Mustangs are poised to potentially return to the top of The American standings. Head coach Tim Jankovich will be able to rely on Preseason All-Conference first-teamer Jarrey Foster in addition to second team point guard Jahmal McMurray. SMU has won two of the past four league championships.

Wichita State returns just 11.2 percent of its minutes from last season, the second-fewest in the NCAA but with head coach Gregg Marshall and preseason second-teamer Markis McDuffie in the fold, the Shockers will look to continue their streak of seven-straight seasons in the NCAA tournament and nine-consecutive years with at least 25 wins. Wichita State has won 82 percent of its games since 2010 with only Gonzaga (84.4) and Kansas (82.2) with higher percentages.

Tulsa will once again be in position to prove its doubters wrong. The Golden Hurricane won 19 games last season and are led by American Athletic Conference Preseason second teamer Sterling Taplin. In each of the past four seasons head coach Frank Haith’s squad has finished higher than its preseason prediction. Haith has won 77 games in just five years to rank seventh all-time at Tulsa.

Tulane employs one of the most decorated coaches in the NCAA today as Mike Dunleavy could see his young squad take a big jump in 2018-19. Dunleavy has coached up Naismith Hall of Famers during his 17-year NBA career. The Green Wave boasted a 2018 NBA Draft pick in Melvin Frazier but Frazier’s absence will open minutes for players like Ray Ona Embo and Jordan Cornish to take steps forward this season after averaging 10.1 and 9.9 points per game, respectively.

ECU is going back to its roots in 2018-19. The Pirates brought back head coach Joe Dooley after five impressive years at Florida Gulf Coast, where he won at least 22 games every season with five postseason appearances and two NCAA tournament trips. Dooley will have strong returners in his arsenal in the 2017 Rookie of the Year, Shawn Williams, and The American’s top returning assist man, Isaac Fleming.

USF enters in its second season under the tutelage of head coach Brian Gregory and with star freshman David Collins back in the fold, the Bulls could be primed for a second-year jump. Collins, an American Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team selection in 2018 will be joined by several transfers who sat out last season in a revamped lineup for Gregory.

American Athletic Conference 2018 Preseason Poll & Awards

Coaches Preseason Poll
Team (1st-Place Votes) (Points)
1. UCF (6) 114
2. Cincinnati (3) 107
3. Houston (2) 103
4. Memphis (1) 85
5. UConn 75
6. Temple 74
7. SMU 63
8. Wichita State 60
9. Tulsa 48
10. Tulane 23
11. ECU 22
12. USF 18

Preseason Player of the Year
B.J. Taylor, guard – UCF

Preseason Freshman of the Year
Nate Hinton, guard – Houston

Preseason All-Conference
First Team
Jalen Adams, guard – UConn *
Jarron Cumberland, guard – Cincinnati
Jeremiah Martin, guard – Memphis
Quinton Rose, guard – Temple
B.J. Taylor, guard – UCF

Second Team ^
Corey Davis, Jr., guard – Houston
Tacko Fall, center – UCF
Jarrey Foster, guard – SMU
Markis McDuffie, forward – Wichita State
Jahmal McMurray, guard – SMU
Sterling Taplin, guard – Tulsa