|NASHVILLE (AP) — Austin Peay has all the ingredients for a run at an Ohio Valley Conference title — five returning starters, the reigning Player of the Year and the league’s longest tenured coach. |
So it was no surprise Wednesday when the Governors were selected as the preseason favorites to win the OVC in a poll of the league’s coaches and sports information directors, receiving 19 of a possible 22 first-place votes.
The Governors won the OVC regular season title a year ago before falling in the conference tournament championship to Eastern Kentucky. This season, Austin Peay returns all five starters, including junior forward Drake Reed, who was the OVC Player of the Year last season.
Eastern Kentucky was second in the voting followed by Tennessee Tech, Murray State, Southeast Missouri, Tennessee State, Samford, Eastern Illinois, Jacksonville State, Morehead State and UT Martin.
Reed was tabbed as the preseason OVC Player of the Year. He averaged 16 points and six rebounds per game last year as a sophomore. Senior guard Fernandez Locket also joined Reed on the preseason All-OVC team.
Tennessee Tech received two first-place votes.
The Golden Eagles have a talented squad led by Anthony Fisher, perhaps the top returning guard in the OVC. Fisher averaged 17 points per game last season. He’s joined by fellow-senior Amadi McKenzie (14 points, eight rebounds) as the Tennessee Tech representatives on the preseason All-OVC team.
Murray State, a perennial contender in the OVC, was predicted to finish fourth.
The Racers had senior guard Bruce Carter named to the preseason All-OVC team.
The preseason polls haven’t proven to be all that accurate lately. Last year the Governors were picked sixth and Eastern Kentucky, which won the tournament title, was selected eighth.