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BOBCATS PICKED AS MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON FAVORITES

LAKE WALES, Fla. – The Sun Conference announced the 2015-16 Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll on Tuesday afternoon and St. Thomas University was the top pick to claim the regular season crown.  The poll was voted upon by all eight of the league's men's basketball coaches.

The Bobcats collected five first place votes totaled 60 points in the poll.  Led by fourth-year head coach Patrick Gayle, the Bobcats return 10 players off last year's 17-13 squad that finished 11-7 in league play earning them regular season runner-up honors and their fourth straight berth to the NAIA II National Tournament.  After three straight trips to the Sweet 16 of the national tournament, the Bobcats bowed out in the first round last year to eventual national champions Cornerstone University (Mich.) 74-58.

Michael Walker returns to the Bobcats after a 2<sup>nd</sup> Team All-Conference performance last season.  The 6'4 guard averaged 13.8 points per game, 4.1 rebounds per game and 2.5 steals per game in 28 games played.

Southeastern University received one first place vote and had 51 total points to grab the second spot in the poll.  The Fire went 18-12 in the 2014-15 season and finished 10-8 in conference play.  The Fire's season ended in the conference tournament finals after a 90-86 overtime loss to top-seeded Embry-Riddle University.

The Fire return seven players from last year's squad but face the tough task of replacing All-Americans Andre' Winston and Timothy Mitchell.  Combined the Southeastern duo averaged 35.5 points per game last year and 15.7 rebounds per game.  Caleb Konieczny leads the returners with 8.6 points per contest last season.

The Royals of Warner University collected two first place votes and totaled 50 points earning them third place honors in the poll.  Sean Hanrahan returns for his 10<sup>th</sup> season as head coach of the Royals after a 20-11 season last year in which the Royals went 9-9 in conference play.

Honorable Mention All-American Warren Hall returns for his junior season to lead the Royals.  Hall averaged 19.2 points per game as a sophomore and is the only returning 1<sup>st</sup> Team All-Conference selection in The Sun Conference.  Along with Hall, the Royals return four of their top six scorers from the 2014-15 season including Eddie Delegal who averaged 14.0 points per game.

Keiser University, formerly Northwood University, received the final first place vote and collected 47 total points placing them fourth in the coaches' poll.  Rollie Massimino's squad finished last year with an 18-12 regular season record and a 10-8 mark in league play missing the NAIA II National Tournament for the first time in eight seasons.

The Seahawks will need to replace All-Americans Chris Solomon and Fred Mattison who combined to averaged 27.5 points per game last season.  Four players return from last season's squad including Andrija Sarenac who averaged 7.3 points per game in 28 games played.

Johnson & Wales University had 36 points and was picked to finish fifth.  The Wildcats went 12-17 last season and were 9-9 in conference.  2<sup>nd</sup> Team All-Conference selection Ricardo Suarez returns for his junior season after leading the Wildcats with 16.9 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game last season.

Thomas University grabbed the sixth spot in the poll with 33 total points.  The Night Hawks enter the 2015-16 season with a new head coach.  Brent Crews takes over the Thomas program that went 18-11 last season and 9-9 in conference.

Webber International University landed in the seventh position in the poll with 22 points.  The Warriors were 13-19 a year ago and went 9-9 in conference. 

Florida Memorial University and Ave Maria University claimed the final two spots in the poll.  Both institutions head into the 2015-16 season with new head coaches.  The Lions were picked eighth in the poll with 15 total points and will be led by Artis Maddox.  The Gyrenes were picked ninth with 10 points and will be led by John Lamanna.

The 2015-16 Sun Conference Tournament begins on Feb. 25 with quarterfinal action hosted by the highest seeds as determined by the final league standings.  The tournament semifinals and championship game will be hosted by the regular season champion on Feb. 29 and March 1.

The 25<sup>th</sup> Annual Division II Men's Basketball National Championship gets underway March 9-15 from College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo.

The 2015-16 NAIA Division II Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches' poll will be released on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

2015-16 Men's Basketball Preseason Poll
1. St. Thomas - 60 (5)
2. Southeastern - 51 (1)
3. Warner - 50 (2)
4. Keiser - 47 (1)
5. Johnson & Wales - 36
6. Thomas - 33
7. Webber International - 22
8. Florida Memorial - 15
9. Ave Maria - 10

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