ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The Drake University men’s basketball team was picked to finish sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference’s annual preseason poll, the conference announced Monday morning. Senior Ben Simons also earned a spot on the preseason all-conference team.
The Bulldogs finished with 184 points in the poll of the league’s coaches, media and communications personnel after finishing in a tie for third in the league last season. Creighton was the runaway favorite to win the league with 398 out of a potential 400 points and 38 of the poll’s 40 first place votes. Second place Illinois State garnered the other two first-place votes followed by UNI, Wichita State and Evansville. Drake’s sixth-place projection is the team’s highest since being tabbed fourth in the 2008-09 preseason poll.
Following Drake in the poll was Indiana State, Missouri State, Bradley and Southern Illinois.
Simons was one of nine players to earn preseason all-conference honors and just one of five named to the first team. The 6-8 forward from Cadillac, Mich., returns as Drake’s top scorer after earning second team all-MVC honors at the conclusion of his junior year. He averaged 16.4 points per game a season ago, the fourth most in the MVC, and led the league in three-pointers with 77. He was joined on the preseason all-conference team by the preseason Player of the Year, Doug McDermott (Creighton), Colt Ryan (Evansville), Jackie Carmichael (Illinois State) and Jake Odum (Indiana State).
Simons and the Bulldogs begin their 2012-13 season on Saturday evening with an exhibition contest against Southwest Baptist at 7:05 p.m. in the Knapp Center. The season begins in earnest on Nov. 10 when William Jewell visits the Knapp Center for an 11 a.m. tipoff.
MVC Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll
No. Team (1st Place Votes) Points
1. Creighton (38) 398
2. Illinois State (2) 327
3. UNI 316
4. Wichita State 298
5. Evansville 240
6. Drake 184
7. Indiana State 165
8. Missouri State 122
9. Bradley 84
10. Southern Illinois 66
Doug McDermott, Creighton (Pre-Season Player of the Year)
Colt Ryan, Evansville
Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State
Jake Odum, Indiana State
Ben Simons, Drake
Gregory Echenique, Creighton
Anthony James, UNI
Carl Hall, Wichita State
Seth Tuttle, UNI