Aggies picked to win 2021-22 WAC title in preseason polls

NMSU

DENVER, CO — The Western Athletic Conference may have a new look, but that didn’t stop the league’s coaches and media personnel from picking NM State as the team to beat in 2021-22.

Tuesday morning, the WAC unveiled its 2021-22 preseason men’s basketball polls as selected by the league’s coaches and media personnel. Each group envisions NM State hoisting the league’s regular season championship trophy at season’s end.

In the coaches poll, the Aggies racked up eight of a possible 13 first-place votes, edging out Grand Canyon (three first-place votes) for the top spot on the preseason listing. League newcomer SFA – a former Southland Conference power – received one first-place vote and was selected to finish third. Utah Valley (103 points) and Abilene Christian (one first-place vote) rounded out the top five.

The same five programs made up the top five finishers in the media poll. Like the coaches’ poll, NM State was picked for a first-place finish but that’s where the similarities ended. The WAC media personnel selected SFA for a runner-up finish and reigning WAC champion Grand Canyon to finish third. Abilene Christian and Utah Valley were chosen fourth and fifth respectively to round out the top five teams on the media side.

In addition to the league’s preseason polls, the WAC released its Preseason First and Second Teams which were selected by both the coaches and the media. Four Aggies – Teddy AllenJohnny McCantsJabari Rice and Donnie Tillman – were represented among those lists.

Affectionately known as “Teddy Buckets”, Allen earned Preseason All-WAC First Team accolades by the coaches and Preseason All-WAC Second Team honors by the media. Though he has yet to play a game in an NM State uniform, the Phoenix, Ariz., product is a well-known commodity on the college basketball landscape after suiting up most recently for Nebraska.

The guard led the Huskers and ranked sixth in the Big Ten in scoring through the 2020-21 campaign, pumping in points at a rate of 16.5 per game. A three-level scorer, Allen also ranked among the Big Ten’s leaders in three-point field goal per game (seventh, 2.0), field goal percentage (10th, .449) and free throw percentage (16th, .691). All told, Allen finished the 2020-21 season with 18 double-digit scoring outings, eight games of 20 or more points and one 40+ point performance while also averaging 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game.

One of the league’s longest-tenured players, McCants begins his sixth year of affiliation with NM State and appeared on the Preseason All-WAC Second Team by both the league’s coaches and its media. The Las Cruces, N.M., product served as one of the Aggies’ most consistent performers a season ago, averaging 10.0 points and a team-best 6.1 rebounds.

As a result of his play last season, McCants worked his way to an All-WAC Honorable Mention selection. He was one of three Aggies who played in all 20 of the team’s contests and showcased his versatility by averaging 1.8 assists and 0.9 blocked shots per game.

Both the league’s coaches and media members chose Rice for a spot on their Preseason All-WAC First Team, after the Houston, Texas, product shook off an early-season injury to become the Aggies’ go-to player in 2020-21.

Sidelined for two games of the Aggies’ 20 on the year, that didn’t stop Rice from leading the team in scoring (13.2 points per game), minutes per game (30.2), free throw percentage (.812), field goals made (82) and three-point field goals made (33). For his efforts last season, Rice earned All-WAC Second Team honors.

Saving his best for the 2021 WAC Tournament, Tillman hopes to use a strong end to the 2020-21 season as a segue into the 2021-22 campaign. Placed on the Preseason All-WAC Second Team by the league’s coaches, Tillman was the Aggies’ second-leading scorer (11.6 points per game) and its second-best rebounder (5.6 per game) a season ago.

It was in Las Vegas, though, where the Detroit, Mich., product showed off what a dangerous offensive weapon he could be. Tillman averaged 15.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game through his team’s three-game run to the WAC Tournament title bout. Of the 18 games he played, Tillman finished with 10 or more points in 13 of them. Both of his 20+ point outings last season came in the Aggies’ last four games and he earned a spot on the All-WAC Tournament Team as a result of his play at The Orleans.

For complete coverage of NM State men’s basketball throughout the 2021-22 season, visit NMStateSports.com – the official home of Aggie athletics – and follow the Aggies on Facebook (NM State Men’s Basketball), Twitter (@NMStateMBB) and Instagram (@NMStateMBB).

2021-22 WAC Preseason Men’s Basketball Coaches Poll
Place. Team (First-Place votes) | total points
1. NM State (8) | 138
2. Grand Canyon (3) | 131
3. Stephen F. Austin (1) | 106
4. Utah Valley | 103
5. Abilene Christian (1) | 92
6. Seattle U | 90
7. Sam Houston | 86
8. California Baptist | 84
T9. Tarleton | 48
T9. UTRGV | 48
11. Lamar | 41
12. Dixie State | 35
13. Chicago State | 12

2021-22 Preseason Men’s Basketball Coaches’ All-WAC Teams
First Team
Fardaws Aimaq, R-So., C, Utah Valley
Teddy Allen, R-Jr., G NM State
Jovan Blacksher Jr., Jr., Grand Canyon
Riley Grigsby, Jr., G/F, Seattle U
Gavin Kensmil, Sr., F, SFA
Jabari Rice, R-Jr., G, NM State
Ty Rowell, R-Jr., G, California Baptist
Darrion Trammell, So., G, Seattle U

Second Team
Damien Daniels, Sr., G, Abilene Christian
Savion Flagg, Gr., G/F, Sam Houston
Montre’ Gipson, Sr., G, Tarleton
Demarkus Lampley, Sr., G, Sam Houston
Johnny McCants, R-Sr., F, NM State
Donnie Tillman, Sr., F, NM State
Roti Ware, Sr., G, SFA
Trey Woodbury, Jr., G, Utah Valley

Preseason Player of the Year | Darrion Trammell, Seattle U

2021-22 WAC Preseason Men’s Basketball Media Poll
1. NM State
2. SFA
3. Grand Canyon
4. Abilene Christian
5. Utah Valley
6. California Baptist
7. Sam Houston
8. Seattle U
9. Tarleton
10. Lamar
11. UTRGV
12. Dixie State
13. Chicago State

2021-22 Preseason Men’s Basketball Media All-WAC Teams
First Team
Fardaws Aimaq, R-So., C, Utah Valley
Jovan Blacksher Jr., Jr., G, Grand Canyon
Montre’ Gipson, Sr., G, Tarleton
Gavin Kensmil, Sr. F, SFA
DeMarkus Lampley, Sr., G, Sam Houston
Jabari Rice, R-Jr., G, NM State
Ty Rowell, R-Jr., G, California Baptist
Darrion Trammel, So., G, Seattle U

Second Team
Teddy Allen, R-Jr., G, NM State
Johnny McCants, R-Sr., F, NM State
Coryon Mason, Sr,, G, Abilene Christian
Reggie Miller, Sr., G, Abilene Christian
Reed Nottage, So., G, Califormia Baptist
Roti Ware, Sr., G, SFA
Trey Woodbury, Jr., G, Utah Valley
Holland Woods II, Gr., G, Grand Canyon

Preseason Player of the Year | Fardaws Aimaq, Utah Valley

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