The release of preseason conference polls is one of the surest signals that the offseason is coming to a close. We’re currently wrapping up our Mid-Major Madness Preseason Power Rankings, and on Thursday, the Horizon League jumped in with its thoughts.
In a video released by the conference, the Horizon League revealed its preseason first- and second-team all-league players, as well as its preseason poll.
There is little surprise at the top. Valparaiso has been selected by the coaches as the early favorite to win the Horizon League, led by preseason Player of the Year and potential All-American Alec Peters. As a junior last year, Peters averaged 18.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, and shot 44 percent from three. Overall, he ranked in the top five in the Horizon League in seven different offensive categories.
Representatives from four other teams join Peters on the First Team, led by Oakland’s Jalen Hayes. The Golden Grizzlies were picked second in the preseason poll.
Last year’s freshman of the year Dikembe Dixson from Illinois-Chicago is also on the First Team. He and second-teamer Tai Odiase helped earn the Flames a predicted fourth-place finish as they seek their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2004. Illinois-Chicago might be one of the more interesting teams to watch nationally this season — after going 5-25 last year, second-year coach Steve McClain brings in two three-star recruits to join Dixson and Odiase.
Green Bay, which won the Horizon League Tournament last year, stealing the conference’s NCAA Tournament bid, was picked to finish third. The Phoenix lose Carrington Love, who scored 23 points in 42 minutes in their semifinal upset win over Valparaiso, but return Charles Cooper, who earned also earned a spot on the First Team.
Further down in the standings, Northern Kentucky will be another team to watch. Though they were only picked seventh, the Norse are postseason eligible for the first time since their move to Division I four years ago. They lose their two leading scorers from last year, but return now-sophomore Drew McDonald, who scored in double figures in each of Northern Kentucky’s final six games.
The full preseason all-conference teams, the preseason poll and the entire awards video can be found below. Take a look, then compare the poll to our preseason rankings:
Preseason Horizon League First Team:
Charles Cooper, Green Bay
Dikembe Dixson, Illinois-Chicago
Cameron Morse, Youngstown State
Jalen Hayes, Oakland
Alec Peters, Valparaiso (POY)
Preseason Horizon League Second Team:
Shane Hammink, Valparaiso
Rob Edwards, Cleveland State
Tai Odiase, Illinois-Chicago
Chris Jenkins, Detroit
Mark Alstork, Wright State
3. Green Bay
5. Wright State
7. Northern Kentucky
8. Cleveland State
9. Youngstown State