DePaul hopes to capture its third straight 20-win season for the first time since posting three consecutive 20-win seasons from 1994-97. Smith was named one of the 2005 State Farm Wade Trophy Preseason candidates, top-16 candidate for the Preseason Wooden Award as well as Preseason First Team All-American by Lindy's Magazine, which ranked the Blue Demons' No. 24 overall. Smith is currently ranked first in school history with a .605 career field goal percentage and 16th all-time with 1,061 points in her 66 career games.
Joining Khara Smith on the preseason All-Conference team is teammate Charlene Smith, who ranked in the Top-20 of C-USA's top field goal percentage, steals and scoring last season. The 5-8 senior needs only 11 points to reach 1,000 career collegiate points.
A pair of sophomores, Jessica Dickson of USF and Louisville's Jazz Covington, look to build on their impressive rookie seasons. Covington, who earned Freshman All-America honors last season, finished her first season with the Cardinals as one of the top rookies in Louisville's school history, ranking behind former Cardinal Gwen Doyle in scoring and rebounding with 48 points and 347 rebounds last season. While earning Conference USA Freshman of the Year, Dickson became the Bulls' leading scorer (18.6 ppg), while also ranking second on the team in rebounds (6.1 rpg). Dickson finished the season ranked third in the league in scoring just behind Smith and former C-USA standout, Chandi Jones of Houston. Her 540 points last-season was a new record for C-USA freshmen.
TCU finished second in the preseason coaches' poll. The Horned Frogs received the preseason honor during the 2003-04 season and advanced to second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to No. 15 Georgia. The Horned Frogs, who must replace three starters from last season, will be led by senior forward and preseason All-Conference selection Sandora Irvin.. Irvin returns as TCU's leading scorer (16.8 ppg) as well as its all-time leading rebounder and shot blocker. She finished the season ranked third in the country in rebounds and blocked shots.
Houston rounded the third spot in the coaches' preseason poll, while Louisville and Marquette tie for fourth. Playing in her final collegiate season, Sancho Lyttle returns as the Cougars' top offensive and defensive threat. Lyttle, one of three 2005 State Farm Wade Trophy Preseason candidates, earned second-team all C-USA honors last season after ranking eighth in the league in scoring (16.5 and fourth in rebounding (9.3).
The complete preseason poll and All-Conference Team to follow:
2004-05 Preseason Awards
(as selected by the league's head coaches)
Preseason All-Conference Team
JAZZ COVINGTON, LOUISVILLE
So., F, 6-2, Adel, Ga./Cook
JESSICA DICKSON, USF
So., F, 5-11, Ocala, Fla./Vanguard
SANDORA IRVIN, TCU
Sr., F, 6-4, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Ft. Lauderdale
SANCHO LYTTLE, HOUSTON
Sr., F/C, 6-4, St. Vincent, British West Indies/Clarendon JC
CHARLENE SMITH, DE PAUL
Sr., G/F, 5-8, Bellwood, Ill./UW-Milwaukee
KHARA SMITH, DE PAUL
Jr., F, 6-2, Hillside, Ill./Proviso West
Preseason Player of the Year
KHARA SMITH, DE PAUL
2004-05 Preseason Poll (1st place votes)
1. DePaul (11)
2. TCU (2)
3. Houston (1)
10. East Carolina
13. Southern Miss
14. Saint Louis