The SWAC will be a little more open this year. With about five teams that have a shot at winning it all, there’s going to be some heated conference games down the stretch. But of course, they will be some major players and dark horses in the fray. Here’s our SWAC Preseason Awards!
Player of the Year: Martaveous McKnight (Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Senior Guard)
Arkansas Pine-Bluff took the SWAC by storm last season. They started 9-1 in the conference, and were just a game away from getting to the NCAA Tournament. Martaveous McKnight was a major reason for it. He averaged 18.6 PPG, was fifth in the conference in threes made, and was very clutch when needed. His efforts as a newcomer and all around player led him to be named SWAC Newcomer and Player of the Year.
His return is great for UAPB and bad for everyone else. He will once again produce, and possibly even at a higher level.
Newcomer of the Year: (Jalyn Patterson, Grad Transfer Guard, Texas Southern)
Johnny Jones is tasked with keeping up with Texas Southern’s winning tradition, but he will have some work to do. However, he’s turning to his LSU roots for help. Former 3-Star prospect Jalyn Patterson transferred from LSU to TSU in the offseason. He redshirted his final year and actually took a year off from basketball.
Patterson should be fresh, and will provide a go-to scoring option for Texas Southern. He’ll need to carry a heavy scoring load to continue Texas Southern’s run of success.
Dark Horse Team: Prairie View A&M
Last season, Texas Southern got all of the national attention. Grambling State won the regular season title, and Arkansas Pine-Bluff got the top seed in the SWAC tournament. But a team that was in the fray all along was Prairie View A&M.
The Panthers ranked high in many offensive categories, including scoring average, assists and three-point shooting. What’s interesting was their margin of defeat when losing in conference play. In those losses, the margin of defeat was less than 10 points in every game except for their loss to Texas Southern in the SWAC Tournament. PVAMU will be looking to close things out this season as they fight for their first SWAC title since the 2002-03 season.
Preseason First Team
Martaveous McKnight (Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Senior Guard)
Gary Blackston (Prairie View A&M, Senior Guard)
Ivy Smith Jr. (Grambling State, Junior Guard)
Reginald Gee (Alabama State, Junior Guard)
Trayvon Reed (Texas Southern, Senior Center)
These five players are game changers in their own ways. McKnight, Blackston, and Smith all ranked in the top five in scoring in the conference last year. Reginald Gee ranked eighth in scoring as well. Reed is on our first team due to his defensive presence. His 92 blocked shots is an absurd number in a guard-heavy conference. Expect all players to increase their production this season.
Preseason Second Team
Eddie Reese (Southern, Senior Guard)
Jacoby Ross (Alabama State, Sophomore Guard)
Dante Scott (Mississippi Valley State, Senior Forward)
Maurice Howard (Alcorn State, Junior Guard)
Jalyn Patterson (Texas Southern, Grad Transfer Guard)
Just like the first team, this team is filled with impact players but who are poised to breakout. Jalyn Patterson is looking to return to game action after not playing last season. Eddie Reese and Dante Scott will be leaving it all on the court during their senior campaigns. Jacoby Ross was named Freshman of the Year and an offseason of progression will most likely lead to a bigger impact. Maurice Howard’s three-point barrage will continue this season as well. His 74 three-pointers ranked fourth in the conference last season.