Updated: November 18, 2013 7:59AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Defending champion Valparaiso University was picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll, which was announced Wednesday by the Horizon League. The Crusaders must replace all five starters accounting for 75.9 percent of its minutes and will be breaking in seven newcomers.
In the closest voting in Horizon League history, Green Bay edged Wright State by a single point as the favorite to win the 2013-14 men’s basketball championship, while Youngstown State senior Kendrick Perry was tabbed the preseason player of the year in voting by the League’s coaches, media and sports information directors.
Green Bay (21) and Wright State (22) took the majority of the 46 first-place votes cast, but the Phoenix came out ahead to earn its first preseason nod since the 1995-96 season. Led by the inside-outside duo of Alec Brown and Keifer Sykes, Green Bay put two players on the preseason first team for the first time since joining the Horizon League 20 years ago.
Perry, who could become the 13th three-time first-team all-league player in conference history in March, became the first Youngstown State player tabbed preseason player of the year. As a junior, Perry finished second in the Horizon League in scoring, 10th in rebounding, sixth in assists and second in steals.
Before taking part in a single Horizon League game, Oakland’s Travis Bader was selected to the preseason first team. Bader, who sits 101 3-pointers from J.J. Redick’s NCAA career record, averaged 22.1 points per game for the Golden Grizzlies, knocking down a school-record 139 as a junior.
Cole Darling rounded out the first team a year after earning second team all-league honors. Darling helped set up Wright State’s run to the conference finals with 11.3 ppg and 4.6 rpg before an injury sidelined him late in the year.
Horizon League Preseason Poll
Rank, School (1st) Points
1. Green Bay (21) 390
2. Wright State (22) 389
3. Cleveland State (2) 338
4. Oakland (1) 258
5. Youngstown State (1) 219
6. VALPARAISO 205
7. UIC 151
8. Detroit 141
9. Milwaukee 69
Player of the Year
Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State
Kendrick Perry, G, Sr., Youngstown State
Keifer Sykes, G, Jr., Green Bay
Alec Brown, F/C, Sr., Green Bay
Travis Bader, G, Sr., Oakland
Cole Darling, F, Sr., Wright State
Anton Grady, F., So., Cleveland State
Bryn Forbes, G, So., Cleveland State
Jordan Aaron, G, Sr., Milwaukee
Kelsey Barlow, G/F, Sr., UIC
Kamren Belin, F, Sr., Youngstown State