‘Jacks picked to repeat as SLC basketball Champs

‘Jacks picked to repeat as SLC basketball Champs
The SFA's men's basketball team celebrates after their regular season title (Source: KTRE Sports)

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE) - Stephen F. Austin did not get its opportunity to play in the 2019-20 postseason due to coronavirus, but the Lumberjacks are the preseason picks to repeat as regular-season champions in 2020-21. The Lumberjacks garnered 17 first-place votes and earned a pair of individual honors in Wednesday’s announcement of the preseason poll and all-conference teams, presented by Canon.

The 'Jacks wrapped last season with a 28-3 mark, including an 85-83 road win at No. 1 Duke, and a 19-1 record in conference play. Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year and second-team all-conference selection Gavin Kensmil is back and earned a spot on the preseason all-league first-team. Teammate Roti Ware also received a preseason nod after starting all 31 games for SFA a year ago.

Abilene Christian was voted second in the preseason poll after back-to-back 20-plus win campaigns. Representing the Wildcats on the preseason squads is junior Joe Pleasant, a 6-8 forward who was a 2020 All-Conference second-team selection and All-Academic first-team member in 2020.

Sam Houston State junior Zach Nutall is the only returning all-conference first-teamer, ranking eighth in the league for scoring with 15.4 points per game last season. Nutall is a key to the Bearkats ranking third in the preseason poll, closely followed by Nicholls in the No. 4 slot.

Lamar ranked fifth in voting, with three first-place votes, while McNeese earned two top votes to place them in sixth. The Cowboys return Dru Kuxhausen, the 2019-20 NCAA statistical leader in 3-pointers made (125) and a member of the All-Southland Conference Third Team. He enters the season holding the school and conference records for 3-pointers made in a season.

Central Arkansas was voted seventh overall, returning two student-athletes named to the preseason team. Senior guard Rylan Bergersen earned a third-team All-Southland nod a year ago. Bergersen represents the Bears along with lifelong friend and teammate DeAndre Jones, who will enter the 2020-21 season as UCA’s career assist leader. Both Bergersen and Jones hail from Boise, Idaho.

New Orleans, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana, UIW and Houston Baptist, McNeese and round out the 2020-21 preseason poll. The preseason poll is voted upon by the head coach and sports information director from each Southland school. Each individual ranks the other 12 teams in their predicted order of regular season finish. Ranking one’s own school is not permitted.

The preseason teams were chosen by a poll of the conference’s head coaches and sports information directors. Voters were not allowed to select their institution’s players.

The Southland men’s basketball season gets underway Wednesday, Nov. 25, and will culminate at the 2021 Southland Conference Tournament, March 10-13 in Katy, Texas.