JONESBORO, Ark. (10/25/11) — Arkansas State senior NeNe Hurst has been named preseason first-team All-Sun Belt Conference, and the Red Wolves are picked second in the SBC West Division preseason poll, the conference office announced Tuesday morning. The all-conference selections and poll are voted on by the league's 12 head coaches.
The all-conference team and poll were released in conjunction with the league's annual Sun Belt Conference Media Days, which got underway Tuesday using web-based video conferencing to give media members across the nation access to the league's head coaches.
"In my opinion, NeNe is definitely a first team all-conference player, and when it's all said and done she will make a push for player of the year," said ASU head coach Brian Boyer. "There are not many players in this conference that can positively affect all aspects of the game like she can. She can play four out of five positions, she's capable of being our leading scorer and rebounder and most likely is our best defender."
An All-SBC Tournament selection a year ago after leading ASU to the semifinals, Hurst started all 32 games for the Red Wolves and led the team in scoring at 11.8points-per-game. One of the toprebounding guards in the league, Hurst averaged 6.1 boards per game to ranksecond on the team and 17th overall in the Sun Belt. She led the Red Wolves in steals at 2.3 pergame, a figure that also ranked second in the league and 95th nationally. She scored in double-figures in 24 games last season and posted her first career double-double when she finished with 15 points and a career-high 11 rebounds in the Red Wolves' victory at North Texas. Hurst scored a career-high 28 points in ASU's victory at Troy, notched a career-high eight steals in the Red Wolves win over South Alabama and was named to the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders Tip-Off all-tournament team.
Hurstenters her senior season ranked 20th at ASU in career scoring, 19th in career rebounding, 13th in career assists, ninth in career steals, 12th in blocked shots and 13th in three-pointers made.
Middle Tennessee's Ebony Rowe and Denver's Kaetlyn Murdoch were named as the preseason Co-Players of the Year, while the Blue Raiders and Pioneers were picked as the favorites to win the league's East and West Divisions, respectively.
"I think there is a lot of guess-work in our Division this year," Boyer added. "Each team has significant players coming back, but each graduated some very goodplayers too. We fall into that category as well. I think the coaches in this league recognize that we have a good deal of talent coming back but there is still some uncertainty of how we will perform without Shay (Scott) and Jaz (Taylor). Overall, second is probably a very fair prediction at this time."
Arkansas State's season will get underway Nov. 13 at Charlotte, and the home opener is set for Nov. 20 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Two exhibition games are also a part of the home schedule, giving basketball fans the opportunity to take in a total of 17 games during the season. The Red Wolves will get the exhibition season underway Nov. 1 when Maryville University visits The Convo, with the final tune-up for the regular season set for Nov. 7 against Christian Brothers.
Sun Belt Conference All-Conference Women's Basketball Team
Preseason First Team All-Conference
Shania Hurst (Arkansas State, Sr., G) Jerica Coley (FIU, So., G) Kaetlyn Murdoch (Denver, Sr., F) Mercedes Johnson (Louisiana-Lafayette, Sr., F) Ebony Rowe (Middle Tennessee, So., F)
Preseason Second Team All-Conference Marian Kursh (UALR, Sr., C) Larrie Williams (Louisiana-Monroe, Sr., C) Icelyn Elie (Middle Tennessee, Jr., F) Jasmine Godbolt (North Texas, Jr., Forward) LaTeira Owens (WKU, Sr., F)
Preseason Third Team All-Conference Emiko Smith (Denver, Jr., G) Finda Mansare (FIU, Jr., Forward) Breana Turner (Florida Atlantic, Sr., G) Sarda Peterson (South Alabama, Sr., G) DeAngela Sword (Troy, Sr., Guard)
Preseason Sun BeltConference co-Players of the Year Kaetlyn Murdoch(Denver, Sr., F) and Ebony Rowe (Middle Tennessee, So., F)
Preseason Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Polls West Division 1. Denver 62 (6) 2. Arkansas State 56 (1) 3. UALR 53 (3) 4. Louisiana-Monroe 29 5. North Texas 28 (1) 6. Louisiana-Lafayette 24 (1)
East Division 1. Middle Tennessee 68 (9) 2. FIU 58 (1) 3. Western Kentucky 48 (1) 4. South Alabama 38 5. Florida Atlantic 23 (1) 6. Troy 17
As voted on by the Sun Belt's 12 Head Coaches First Place Votes in Parenthesis