Williams Named To A-10 Men's Basketball Preseason First Team
Oct. 4, 2012
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - UMass' Chaz Williams was named to the Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Preseason First-Team and the Minutemen were picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll as announced on Thursday at the league's Media Day in Brooklyn. With the return of several strong programs and the addition of VCU and Butler, 2012 looks to be the deepest and strongest season in some time for the Atlantic 10.
Saint Joseph's was picked to win the league followed by Saint Louis, VCU, Temple, and UMass. The Hawks had 11 first place votes, while the Billikens had 10 votes. Temple, UMass and Butler all had two first place votes in the poll.
Williams had a banner campaign in 2011-12 in leading UMass to the NIT Semifinals. The Brookly native was named to the All-Atlantic 10 First Team, the A-10 All-Championship Team and the NABC All-District 4 First Team.
The redshirt junior led the Minutemen in scoring with 16.9 points per game alongside 6.24 assists per game. The point guard was considered one of the top play-makers in the country with several spectacular plays landing among ESPN Sports Center's Top Plays Of The Day.
His 231 assists for the season are the third most for a single-season at UMass, while his defensive prowess was also on display with 81 steals - the second-most for a single-season in program history. Williams was one of three points guards in the nation last year to average at least 16 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds per game.
With a 25-12 overall record and a trip to the NIT Semifinals, UMass had its best season since 2008. The 20-win season was the 15th in program history, while the 25 total wins stood as the fifth most for a single season. Included in the record was a 5-3 mark against teams that made the NCAA Tournament and three straight road wins in the NIT Tournament en route to Madison Square Garden for the NIT Final Four.
The UMass roster returns nearly complete from a year ago as the Minutemen embark on 2012-13 with high expectations. UMass will have to replace Sean Carter whose presence at center and veteran leadership were both key. Carter averaged 8.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
Overall, the Minutemen return all four of their top scorers paced by Williams. Raphiael Putney had a breakout season last year with a 10.1 point per game average, while Terrell Vinson and Jesse Morgan each nearly averaged 10 points as well.
Sampson Carter and Cady Lalanne return to the line-up after missing much of last season due to injury. Freddie Riley and Maxie Esho also return adding firepower from the perimeter and in the post, respectively.
Newcomers Tyler Bergantino, Trey Davis, and Izzy Freeman are expected to make immediate impacts, however, the Minutemen will be without the services of Javorn Farrell who is sidelined for an unknown length of time as he recovers from a preseason injury.
COMPLETE ATLANTIC 10 PRESEASON RELEASE:
BROOKLYN, N.Y.--Saint Joseph's has been chosen as the Atlantic 10 Conference men's basketball preseason favorite in the league's preseason poll. There were also 25 A-10 student-athletes were selected for preseason awards. The league announced the poll and awards Thursday in conjunction with its annual Media Day, held at Barclays Center. Both the awards and the predicted order of finish were chosen by a panel of the league's head coaches and media members.
Saint Joseph's garnered 434 total points and 11 first-place votes to edge out second-place Saint Louis, which had 10 first-place votes and 432 points. The Hawks finished 20-14 overall and 9-7 in the A-10 last season and return all five starters from that team. SJU also led all teams with five players selected for preseason awards. Saint Louis, chosen second in the preseason poll, finished at 12-4 last year in the A-10 and 26-8 overall. The Billikens came within four points of upsetting No. 1 Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament last season.
League newcomer VCU was picked third with 410 points and three first-place votes, followed by Temple (394 points, two first-place votes), NIT Semifinalist Massachusetts (389 points, two first-place votes) and newcomer Butler (347 points, two first-place votes). La Salle was picked seventh with 281 points and Dayton tallied 264 points to earn the eighth place. Xavier (239 points) and Richmond (235 points) completed the top 10, while defending champion St. Bonaventure, Charlotte, George Washington, Fordham, Rhode Island and Duquesne rounded out the 16-team field.
Dayton senior guard Kevin Dillard and Fordham senior forward Chris Gaston were both named to the Preseason First-Team All-Conference team. UMass' Chaz Williams, Kwamain Mitchell of Saint Louis and Temple's Khalif Wyatt were also named to the Preseason First Team. All five players were named postseason All-Conference in 2011-12, with Williams garnering first-team honors.
Butler newcomer Rotnei Clarke, Charlotte's Chris Braswell and La Salle's Ramon Galloway all earned Preseason Second Team All-Conference honors. Both Carl Jones and Langston Galloway of Saint Joseph's were also named second team.
Two more Hawks players, C.J. Aiken and Halil Kanacevic were named to the Preseason All-Conference Third Team. Darien Brothers (Richmond), Scootie Randall (Temple) and Juvonte Reddic (VCU) joined Aiken and Kanacevic on the third team.
Aiken was the only Preseason All-Conference honoree to also be named to the Preseason All-Defensive Team. Butler's Roosevelt Jones, Charlotte's Pierria Henry, Jordair Jett from Saint Louis and VCU's Briante Weber also made the defensive squad.
Butler and VCU, playing in their first year in the A-10, had two of the five Preseason All-Rookie selections. Butler's Kellen Dunham and Melvin Johnson from VCU both earned a spot on the first-year player team. Rhode Island's Jordan Hare, Daniel Dingle of Temple and Xavier's Semaj Christon rounded out the All-Rookie team.
The 2012-13 season on Friday, Nov. 9 with nine Atlantic 10 teams in action. The year will culminate with the 2013 Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. March 14-17. The tournament concludes with the finals on Sunday, March 17 at 1:00 p.m. on CBS.
Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Preseason Poll