Oct. 14, 2008
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -
The Mountain West Conference released its men's basketball preseason media poll and all-conference team today at the league's media day being held at the Renaissance Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Wyoming Cowboys were picked sixth out of nine MWC schools, while UW senior guard Brandon Ewing was named to the 2008-09 preseason all-MWC team.
Conference media selected two-time defending MWC Tournament champion UNLV as the preseason favorite to win the Mountain West Conference men's basketball regular-season title in 2008-09. Three teams earned first-place votes, with UNLV capturing 16 of 24 first-place votes and 206 points for the top spot in the poll. Two-time defending MWC regular-season champion BYU (181 points) collected five first-place votes, while San Diego State (170 points) earned three first-place votes to finish second and third, respectively. Utah tallied 148 points for fourth and New Mexico earned 132 points for fifth. Wyoming received 75 points to finish sixth, followed by Air Force (66 points) in seventh, Colorado State (53 points) in eighth and TCU (49 points) in ninth to round out the poll.
UNLV and BYU are coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and identical 27-8 overall records in 2007-08. The Runnin' Rebels posted a second-place finish in MWC regular-season play (12-4) and advanced to the second round of the Big Dance after earning the league's automatic bid. The Cougars captured their second straight Mountain West regular-season title with a 14-2 mark, receiving an at-large berth. San Diego State and New Mexico were NIT participants in 2007-08, while Utah competed in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational.
Over its nine-year history, the Mountain West Conference has received 20 bids to the NCAA Tournament, including 12 at-large berths. The MWC has had at least one at-large qualifier in eight of those nine years, including seven straight. Since 2003, all nine MWC teams have participated in postseason play at least once.
Five seniors representing five institutions were chosen for the 2008-09 preseason all-MWC team. BYU's Lee Cummard and UNLV's Wink Adams shared Preseason MWC Player of the Year honors, while UNLV's Tre'Von Willis garnered Preseason Newcomer of the Year accolades and New Mexico's Phillip McDonald received Preseason Freshman of the Year kudos.
All-Conference Team Bios
Preseason Co-Player of the Year
Lee Cummard (6-7, 190, Sr., G, BYU) - 2007-08 MWC Co-Player of the Year. Also earned Associated Press All-America HonorableMention, and NABC and USBWA All-District accolades last season after leading BYU in scoring (15.8), field goal percentage (.569),three-point percentage (.472) and blocked shots (1.0) while ranking second in rebounds (6.3), assists (3.5) and steals (0.9). Ranked inthe top-10 in the MWC in eight statistical categories in 2007-08 and scored 20 or more points 10 times.
Preseason Co-Player of the Year
Wink Adams (6-0, 200, Sr., G, UNLV) - Selected first team all-MWC and was the 2008 MWC Tournament Most Valuable Player. Wasalso named to the NABC All-District 15 second team last season after leading UNLV in scoring and ranking third in the MWC with a16.9 points per game average. Scored double figures in 32 of 35 games, including 18 of his last 19 games in 2007-08. Reached the 20-point plateau 12 times and was second on the team and fifth in the MWC with 1.49 steals per game a year ago.
Lorrenzo Wade (6-6, 226, Sr., F, San Diego State) - Named to the all-MWC first team and the NABC's all-District 13 second team in2007-08. Is the Aztecs' returning leader in scoring average (14.8) and assists (119). Also ranked second in blocked shots (20), third infield goal percentage (.450) and total rebounds (150), and fourth in steals (33) a year ago. Scored in double figures 27 times in 2007-08,including seven games with 20 points or more.
Luke Nevill (7-1, 265, C, Utah) - Two-time all-MWC honoree. Received second straight selection to the NABC All-District 13 secondteam and USBWA All-District VIII in 2007-08. The Utes' leading scorer (15.2 ppg) and rebounder (6.7 rpg) last season, shooting 53.5percent from the field and 72.0 percent from the free throw line, while also blocking a team-best 53 shots.
Brandon Ewing (6-2, 190, Sr., G, Wyoming) - Two-time second team all-MWC honoree. Is just the second player in MWC history tolead the league in scoring in back-to-back seasons (2006-08). Named to the USBWA all-District VII team and NABC all-District 13second team for the second straight season in 2007-08. Also led the MWC in minutes played (38.0) and ranked second in assists (4.03apg), while ranking third in free throw percentage (.826), tied for fifth in three-point field goals (2.00 pg) and seventh in field-goalpercentage (.431).
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Tre'Von Willis (6-4, 195, So., G, UNLV) - Sat out the 2007-08 season after transferring to UNLV from the University of Memphis. Asa true freshman, he appeared in 17 contests for the Tigers, averaging 2.6 points and 1.0 rebounds per game.
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Phillip McDonald (6-5, 200, G, New Mexico) - Rated a top-10 player in the state of Texas last season. Named District MVP and firstTeam all-State after averaging 19 points per game as a senior at Cypress Springs High School, leading the team to a 32-7 record in2007-08.