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This Week in WAC Men's Basketball - Nov. 1

This Week in WAC Men's Basketball - Nov. 1

Complete Release in PDF

WAC COACHES SELECT NM STATE, GRAND CANYON'S LEVER AS PRESEASON FAVORITES
NM State is the preseason favorite to win the WAC men's basketball title in 2018-19, while Grand Canyon sophomore Alessandro Lever was selected as the WAC Preseason Player of the Year in a vote of the league's nine head coaches, who could not vote for their own team or players.

The Aggies received 63 points and seven first-place votes to earn the top spot. Grand Canyon captured second with 58 points and the other two first-place votes. Seattle U was third with 45 points, while Utah Valley was fourth with 43 points. CSU Bakersfield was picked fifth with 35 points, while UT Rio Grande Valley was selected sixth with 28 points. Kansas City was seventh with 24 points, while WAC newcomer California Baptist was picked eighth with 20 points. Chicago State rounded out the poll with eight points.

Lever leads the list of Preseason All-WAC honorees. Joining him on the first team is teammate Oscar Frayer, NM State's AJ Harris, Seattle U's Matej Kavas and Connor Toolson of Utah Valley.

Second team selections include Xavier Bishop of Kansas City, Eli Chuha of NM State, CSU Bakersfield's Damiyne Durham, Jake Toolson of Utah Valley and Terry Winn III of UT Rio Grande Valley.


2018-19 Preseason Men's Basketball Coaches' Poll

Rank

Teams (1st-Place Votes)

Points

1

NM State (7)

63

2

Grand Canyon (2)

58

3

Seattle U

45

4

Utah Valley

43

5

CSU Bakersfield

35

6

UT Rio Grande Valley

28

7

Kansas City

24

8

California Baptist

20

9

Chicago State

8

      

2017-18 Preseason Men's Basketball Coaches' All-WAC Teams

First Team
Oscar Frayer, Grand Canyon
AJ Harris, NM State
Matej Kavas, Seattle U
Alessandro Lever, Grand Canyon
Connor Toolson, Utah Valley

Second Team
Xavier Bishop, Kansas City
Eli Chuha, NM State
Damiyne Durham, CSU Bakersfield
Jake Toolson, Utah Valley
Terry Winn III, UT Rio Grande Valley

Preseason Player of the Year: Alessandro Lever, Grand Canyon

MEDIA SELECT NM STATE, GRAND CANYON'S LEVER AS PRESEASON FAVORITES
The WAC men's basketball media selected NM State as the preseason favorite to win the conference crown in 2018-19 and Grand Canyon sophomore Alessandro Lever as the WAC Preseason Player of the Year.

The Aggies received 22 first-place votes, earning 214 points to earn the top spot. Grand Canyon was picked second with 180 points and two first-place votes, followed by Utah Valley in third with 162 points and Seattle U in fourth with 150 points. CSUB was picked fifth with 117 points, followed by UTRGV in sixth with 89. Kansas City was picked seventh with 73 points, while WAC newcomer California Baptist was selected eighth with 63 points. Chicago State rounded out the poll in ninth with 32 points.

Lever was voted Preseason Player of the Year and is joined on the Preseason All-WAC first team by CSU Bakersfield's Damiyne Durham, AJ Harris of NM State, Seattle U's Matej Kavas and Connor Toolson of Utah Valley.

The Preseason All-WAC second team is comprised of Kansas City's Xavier Bishop, NM State's Eli Chuha, Oscar Frayer of Grand Canyon, Utah Valley's Jake Toolson and Terry Winn III of UT Rio Grande Valley.


2018-19 Preseason Men's Basketball Media Poll

Rank

Teams (1st-Place Votes)

Points

1

NM State (7)

214

2

Grand Canyon (14)

180

3

Utah Valley

162

4

Seattle U

150

5

CSU Bakersfield

117

6

UT Rio Grande Valley

89

7

Kansas City

73

8

California Baptist

63

9

Chicago State

32


2018-19 Preseason Men's Basketball Media All-WAC Teams

First Team
Damiyne Durham, CSU Bakersfield
AJ Harris, NM State
Matej Kavas, Seattle U
Alessandro Lever, Grand Canyon
Connor Toolson, Utah Valley

Second Team
Xavier Bishop, Kansas City
Eli Chuha, NM State
Oscar Frayer, Grand Canyon
Jake Toolson, Utah Valley
Terry Winn III, UT Rio Grande Valley

Preseason Player of the Year: Alessandro Lever, Grand Canyon

WAC TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO LAS VEGAS
The 2019 WAC Basketball Tournament returns to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for the ninth year in a row. The tournament will be held March 14-16, and will include all eight eligible teams.

ESPNU TO TELEVISE WAC TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
ESPN will once again broadcast the WAC men's tournament championship game from the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on March 16. The championship game will be broadcast by ESPNU at 7 p.m. (PT).

STAT LEADERS BACK
The following are the returning statistical leaders in the WAC from the 2017-18 season.

Four of the top 10 scorers from last year are back, led by Seattle U's Matej Kavas who ranked third in the WAC last year (15.2). Also returning are CSU Bakersfield's Damiyne Durham (eighth, 12.3), Grand Canyon's Alessandro Lever (ninth, 12.2) and Utah Valley's Conner Toolson (10th, 12.1).

Two of the top rebounders from last year return, led by CSUB's Justin Elder-Davis, who ranked sixth in the WAC with a 5.5 average. The other top rebounder returning is Grand Canyon's Oscar Frayer (10th, 5.2).

Three of the top 10 shooters in the WAC return this season, led by NM State's Eli Chuha, who ranked sixth last year (50.5). Also returning are Utah Valley's Jake Toolson (eighth, 49.6) and Frayer (10th, 48.2).

Four of the top 10 assist leaders return, led UT Rio Grande Valley's Javon Levi, who last year ranked fourth (3.8). Also returning are Kansas City's Xavier Bishop (seventh, 3.3), NM State's AJ Harris (10th, 2.9) and Utah Valley's Jake Toolson (10th, 2.9).

Four of the top steals leaders return, including last year's leader Conner Toolson (1.6). Also returning are CSUB's Ricky Holden (fifth, 1.2), GCU's Frayer (sixth, 1.2) and UTRGV's Levi (ninth, 1.2).

Five of the top 10 shot blockers in the conference return, led by Kansas City's Aleer Leek who ranked fifth with 1.0 per game. Also returning are Chicago State's Cameron Bowles (sixth, 0.9), Frayer (eighth, 0.7), NM State's Johnny McCants (ninth, 0.7) and UTRGV's Johnny Crnogorac (10th, 0.7).

RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
Of the five first team All-WAC players in 2016-17, just one returns for the 2017-18 season in Alessandro Lever of Grand Canyon. Two of the five second team honorees return in Matej Kavas of Seattle U and Conner Toolson of Utah Valley.

One of the five All-Defensive Team honorees from last year return – Oscar Frayer of Grand Canyon. Meanwhile, three of the five All-Newcomer Team honorees from a year ago return in Lever, NM State's AJ Harris and Jake Toolson of Utah Valley.

LETTERWINNER/STARTER CAPSULE
Kansas City and UT Rio Grande Valley return four starters each, while Chicago State, NM State and Seattle U have just one starter back. The Vaqueros have a WAC-high nine letterwinners back, while Seattle U has just four. The complete list of letterwinners returning and lost and starters returning and lost for each team is listed below.

Team

LR

LL

SR

SL

California Baptist

5

6

2

3

CSU Bakersfield

7

4

2

3

Chicago State

6

10

1

4

Grand Canyon

6

6

2

3

Kansas City

8

4

4

1

NM State

5

7

1

4

Seattle U

4

8

1

4

UT Rio Grande Valley

9

7

4

1

Utah Valley

5

8

2

3


SUMMIT LEAGUE/WAC CHALLENGE
The Summit League and Western Athletic Conference announced the matchups and dates for the first year of The Summit League/WAC Challenge. The Challenge features head-to-head competition between all nine teams. Matchups were set based upon factors including the previous year's achievements, records and RPI rankings, as well as projected rankings in the upcoming season. Those teams with home games in 2018 will play on the road in 2019 and vice versa. In addition, teams won't face the same opponent in back-to-back years.

The complete list of 2018 matchups and times is below.

Nov. 6

Grand Canyon at South Dakota State

7 p.m. CT

Nov. 6

North Dakota State at NM State

7:30 p.m. MT

Nov. 13

California Baptist at Oral Roberts

7 p.m. CT

Dec. 1

Kansas City at Purdue Fort Wayne

2 p.m. ET

Dec. 1

CSU Bakersfield at South Dakota

3:30 p.m. CT

Dec. 1

Denver at Utah Valley

7 p.m. MT

Dec. 5

North Dakota at UT Rio Grande Valley

7 p.m. CT

Dec. 6

Omaha at Seattle U

7 p.m. PT

Dec. 20

Chicago State at Western Illinois

2 p.m. CT


In addition, the matchups for the 2019-20 season were announced with times and dates to be determined. Those are: South Dakota at California Baptist; South Dakota State at CSU Bakersfield; Oral Roberts at Chicago State; Purdue Fort Wayne at Grand Canyon; Western Illinois at Kansas City; NM State at Denver; Seattle U at North Dakota; UT Rio Grande Valley at Omaha; and Utah Valley at North Dakota State.

KEY NON-CONFERENCE MATCHUPS
WAC teams have several key non-conference matchups this season, including 26 games against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament or NIT last season. The complete list is below.

Games vs. 2018 NCAA Tournament Teams

Nov. 6

Grand Canyon at South Dakota State

Nov. 6

Kansas City at Loyola

Nov. 7

CSU Bakersfield at TCU

Nov. 9

Oklahoma at UT Rio Grande Valley

Nov. 19

California Baptist at Nevada

Nov. 21

Utah Valley vs. Iona

Nov. 22

Grand Canyon vs. Seton Hall

Nov. 28

UT Rio Grande Valley at Houston

Nov. 28

Kansas City at South Dakota State

Dec. 6

Utah Valley at Arizona

Dec. 8

NM State vs. Kansas

Dec. 9

Nevada vs. Grand Canyon

Dec. 15

Grand Canyon at Texas

Dec. 27

Kansas City at Creighton

Dec. 28

UT Rio Grande Valley at Texas Tech

Dec. 31

CSU Bakersfield at Gonzaga


Games vs. 2018 NIT Teams

Nov. 6

Seattle U at Stanford

Nov. 8

Chicago State at Notre Dame

Nov. 9

Utah Valley at Brigham Young

Nov. 11

Utah Valley at Saint Mary's

Nov. 14

Saint Mary's at NM State

Nov. 23

Grand Canyon vs. Utah

Nov. 25

CSU Bakersfield at USC

Dec. 1

Boise State at Grand Canyon

Dec. 9

Seattle U at Washington

Dec. 17

California Baptist at Southeastern Louisiana


GCU'S LEVER NAMED TO CENTER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST
Grand Canyon sophomore Alessandro Lever is one of 21 college centers named to the preseason watch list for the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award. A national committee selected the candidates, which is presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The list will be narrowed to 10 centers in mid-February and then five finalists in March. Players can be added and deleted from the list during the upcoming season. Lever, the WAC Preseason Player of the Year, averaged a team-high 12.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season as a freshman. He earned All-WAC first team honors and was named WAC Freshman of the Year.