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ST. LOUIS – Missouri State's men's basketball team was picked fourth, and last year's conference Newcomer of the Year Dequon Miller
was named to the Preseason All-MVC second team today, the Missouri Valley Conference announced early Tuesday at its annual Basketball Tip-Off event.
The Bears, who return four starters and 70 percent of their scoring from last season, were tabbed to finish among the MVC's top four teams for the third time in five seasons. A preseason poll of league coaches, media representatives and athletics communications staffs has the Bears behind just preseason league favorite Wichita State (413 points), Illinois State (356) and Northern Iowa (348) among The Valley's 10 teams.
Rounding out the poll are Southern Illinois (228), Indiana State (219), Loyola (179), Bradley (110), Evansville (106) and Drake (73). Wichita State collected 37 of a possible 42 first-place votes with Illinois State (4) and UNI (1) collecting the other five.
"You have to earn it each and every day in this league, no matter where you're picked," said Bears' head coach Paul Lusk
. "No matter where you're picked, everyone's goal is to win the conference title, and that's what we strive to do every day in our program."
Miller is one of 10 players to be named to the MVC Preseason All-Conference Team. First-team selections include Wichita State's Markis McDuffie, Illinois State's duo of MiKyle McIntosh and Paris Lee, Indiana State's Brenton Scott and UNI's Jeremy Morgan. Morgan was also named the MVC Preseason Player of the Year.
Joining MSU's starting point guard on the second team are Loyola standout Milton Doyle, WSU's Shaq Morris, SIU's Sean O'Brien and Drake's Reed Timmer.
Miller became just the fifth Bear to receive MVC Newcomer of the Year honors. He was also an honorable mention All-MVC selection during his first season in Springfield and led the Bears in scoring (12.7 points per game), 3-point shooting (57), assists (96) and minutes played (1,110). He ranked among the Valley's top 10 leaders in all four categories, was the league's seventh-best scorer (13.4) in conference games and was one of the nation's top 100 performers in minutes played per game (34.7). He is the No. 3 returning scorer in the MVC this season.
"Dequon is more concerned about winning than any individual accolades," Lusk said. "But there's no doubt he has improved since last season, and we look for him to have a great senior season."
Missouri State's preseason poll ranking is its best since being tabbed third in 2014-15. The Bears were also picked fourth in 2013-14 under Lusk who enters his sixth season at the helm of the MSU program.
The Bears open the 2016-17 campaign with an exhibition game against Missouri Baptist on Saturday, Nov. 5 at JQH Arena. Single-game tickets for all-nonconference games are on sale now at MissouriStateBears.com or the Old Missouri Bank Ticket Office at JQH Arena, (417) 836-7678.
Several season ticket packages are also available, including the Money-Back Guarantee
program for new season ticket holders, a new opportunity to watch the entire non-conference home slate at no risk.