UT Arlington Selected As Favorites To Win Sun Belt Men’s Basketball Title
By UT Arlington Athletics Department
Posted on October 20, 2016, October 20, 2016

 Belt Men’s Basketball Title

Photo courtesy: UT Arlington Athletics

Featuring a lineup that returns all five starters from last year's team that won a program-high 24 games, the UT Arlington men's basketball team was installed as the preseason favorite to win the Sun Belt Conference title in a poll of league coaches.

Junior forward Kevin Hervey was named the league's preseason Player of the Year, while classmate Erick Neal earned first team all-league honors. UTA claims the distinction of having both the men and women's Sun Belt preseason players of the year with yesterday's announcement that Rebekah VanDijk earned the women's honor.

Led by 11th year head coach Scott Cross, the Mavericks received a total of 140 of a possible 144 points in the annual ranking, 16 ahead of runner-up Little Rock. 10 of the 12 league coaches placed UTA in the top spot on their ballot.

"Preseason rankings and polls are great conversation topics for our supporters and fans and they generate excitement for the upcoming season," said Cross. "The reality is that we encourage our players to focus on things that are within their control - attitude, effort, being a good teammate and getting better every single day.

"We can't win championships in March if we don't put in a championship effort every day. Our team mantra states that 'championships are won today.' For our program to be successful, everybody involved has to be committed to that principle.

Season, single game and group tickets to watch UTA men and women's basketball are currently on sale through the UTA Box Office: Online at UTATickets.com, by calling (817) 272-9595 or by visiting College Park Center during business hours Monday through Friday.

Behind UTA and runner-up Little Rock, Sun Belt coaches picked Georgia State to finish third, just ahead of in-state rival Georgia Southern. League newcomer Coastal Carolina, which plays its first Sun Belt game on New Year's Eve at UTA in College Park Center, was picked fifth in the 12-team conference.

UT Arlington returns five starters including Hervey, who missed the Mavericks' final 19 games after suffering a season-ending knee injury. Hervey nearly averaged a double-double (18.1 ppg/9.8 rpg) in 16 games last season while leading the Mavericks to a 9-2 record in non-conference play that included wins at Memphis and Ohio State.

The UT Arlington backcourt also returns the dynamic Neal (12.7 ppg/6.2 apg) at point guard, along with double-figure scorers in senior Jalen Jones (12.7 ppg), junior Kaelon Wilson (10.0 ppg) and fifth-year senior Drew Charles (9.4 ppg). Senior forward Jorge Bilbao (6.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg) also returns after starting all 35 games last year.

For complete release, schedule, tickets and information, please visit the UT Arlington Athletics website.

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