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(New Orleans) (Excerpts from www.gcaconf.com) Sporting News magazine has released its preseason top 10, with two Gulf Coast Athletic Conference teams represented on the list, including a number one ranking for the 2016 GCAC tournament champion Dillard University Bleu Devils.
"I knew we would have another strong year this season by returning eight of our nine top players, plus the showing we had at last year's NAIA tourney, beating the number eight team in the country by 20 points meant a lot too," said Bleu Devils head coach Mike Newell. "I also I did my research on every team that went to nationals, in terms of rebounding, scoring, scoring margin, and returners, and I found out that us and Carroll College were the only two teams to have all five starts returning, so I had a good feeling that we would be somewhere at the top but I had no clue we would be ranked number one by Sporting News."
Senior Demetric Austin (SR/Washington, D.C.) landed a spot on the 2016 Sporting News Preseason All-America Team while senior teammate Dennis Hightower (SR/Chicago, Ill.) was selected as Honorable Mention.
"Demetric and Dennis both had great junior years, and now going into their senior year, they both worked hard over the summer," said Newell. "They are both great leaders; in fact, they were elected on the leadership committee by their peers. I look forward for the both of them to have big years this year. They definitely have the talent, there's no doubt about that."
When asked if a preseason ranking meant much to him in terms of how the season would pan out, Newell smiled.
"That's what makes it fun," said Newell. "You have to understand that it is preseason. Now, to get back to Kansas City, being preseason number one doesn't get you there. We will have to produce and win ball games and in order to win a national championship, you have to get to Kansas City first. So by saying that, we have a lot of work to do."