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(New Orleans) The Dillard University men's basketball team has been chosen as the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference favorite for the 2016-17 basketball season in a near unanimous vote by the league's coaches. Dillard received six out of seven first-place votes (coaches may not vote for their own teams). The Bleu Devils return eight of their top nine players from a season ago, when they won the GCAC tournament and advanced to the second round of the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division 1 Men's Basketball Championship. Dillard was ranked number one in the nation by Sporting News magazine and 12th in the Preseason NAIA Coaches' Poll.
Dillard's Demetric Austin (SR/Washington, D.C.), the 2016 GCAC Tournament most valuable player and GCAC Newcomer of the Year was named Preseason Player of the Year. The 6'7" senior from Washington D.C. averaged 20.2 points and 9.2 rebounds last season on his way to earning All-America honors from the NAIA. Austin was also the leading vote-getter for the preseason All-GCAC team. He is joined by teammate Dennis Hightower (SR/Chicago, Ill.) (13.9 ppg, 5.8 apg).
"My first initial thought was hard work pays off, and also to trust in the process," said Austin. "I feel like number 12 in the NAIA and number one in the GCAC are great, but a person like me doesn't really look too much into preseason polls because I know the real work has to be put in during the season, especially in March in Kansas City. But right now our team is focused on one game at a time. This is my last year to play collegiate ball, and I'm going to leave it all on the court as I always do. Coach Newell did a great job with the missing pieces, so our ultimate goal is to win it all and bring a national championship to Dillard."