A poll of Summit League coaches, sports information directors and media selected South Dakota State as the overwhelming favorite to win the 2012-13 Summit League Championship according to the preseason poll released on Tuesday.
The Jackrabbits received 30-of-31 first-place votes (coaches may not vote for their own team) after claiming the 2012 Summit League Tournament title and representing the league in the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Scott Nagy returns four starters and 8-of-10 letterwinners from last season's squad that finished 27-8 overall and 15-3 in Summit League play.
"We've seen most of the polls before this one and there was already a lot of expectations. We knew, based on what happened last year and with all of the players returning, that we'd be picked high," head coach Scott Nagy said. "We've talked about the fact that there's pressure either way, whether they're high expectations of low expectations. Our kids aren't used to this, this will be something new for them, so it'll be interesting to see how they handle it, and it will be my job to make sure they stay humble and hungry."
Jackrabbit guard Nate Wolters, the 2012 Summit League Tournament MVP and an AP honorable mention All-America selection, got the nod for the preseason Player of the Year. The senior averaged 21.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game in 2011-12 and became just the fifth player in NCAA history to average 20 points, five assists and five rebounds in a season.
"I think based on the people that the league lost last year and the all-conference teams from last year that we kind of expected that, but there's certainly some players that will challenge for that award at the end of the season," Nagy said. "I think on our basketball team that it'll be hard for Nate to average the kind of points that he has been, just because we've had a lot of players that improved and got better, and we don't need Nate to score 20 points every night."
Wolters' selection as preseason player of the year also puts him on the preseason all-league first team. The voters also selected Jackrabbit junior Jordan Dykstra to the preseason all-league second team.
The Jackrabbits open the 2012-13 season with an exhibition game against Black Hills State on Nov. 1 at 8:30 p.m., and then begin the regular season on the road at Alabama on Nov. 9 at 8 p.m., in a game that can be seen live on ESPNU.
2012-13 SUMMIT LEAGUE MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL Rank Team (1st) Pts. 1. South Dakota State (30) 390 2. North Dakota State (1) 321 3. Oakland 310 4. Western Illinois 274 5. IUPUI 193 6. Fort Wayne 191 7. Kansas City 120 8. South Dakota 108 9. Omaha 64
South Dakota State (30)
North Dakota State (1)
PRESEASON ALL-LEAGUEFirst Team
Travis Bader, Oakland
Taylor Braun, North Dakota State
Ceola Clark III, Western Illinois
Frank Gaines, Fort Wayne
Terell Parks, Western Illinois
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
Lawrence Alexander, North Dakota State
Marshall Bjorklund, North Dakota State
Ian Chiles, IUPUI
Jordan Dykstra, South Dakota State
Drew Valentine, Oakland
Preseason Player of the Year: Nate Wolters, South Dakota State