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MBK: UNM Picked to win 2012 Mountain West MBK Title

Oct. 12, 2011

CENTENNIAL, Colo. - The Mountain West released its men's basketball preseason media poll and all-Conference team today at the league's media day being held at The Mtn.-MountainWest Sports Network studios in Denver, Colo.

Conference media selected New Mexico as the preseason favorite to win the Mountain West men's basketball regular-season title in 2011-12. The Lobos captured 22 of 26 first-place votes and 203 points for the top spot in the poll. UNLV received the remaining four first-place votes and 183 points to finish second, followed by San Diego State, who garnered 158 points for third place. Colorado State received 119 points to finish fourth, followed by Air Force (78 points) in fifth, Wyoming (68 points) in sixth, TCU (64 points) in seventh and Mountain West newcomer Boise State (63 points) in eighth to round out the poll.

New Mexico returns four of five starters among nine letterwinners from a 2010-11 squad that compiled a 22-13 overall record and finished in fifth place in MW regular-season play (8-8). The Lobos made their fifth straight postseason appearance, advancing to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament. Headlining UNM's cast of returnees for fifth-year head coach Steve Alford is 2010-11 MW Newcomer of the Year Drew Gordon (Sr., F) and 2010-11 MW Freshman of the Year Kendall Williams (So., G).

UNLV (24-9) turned in a third-place effort (11-5) in regular-season Conference action a year ago. The Runnin' Rebels made their fifth straight postseason appearance, receiving an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Nine letterwinners, including four starters, return under the direction of first-year head coach and former Runnin' Rebel Dave Rice, who takes over the reins at his alma mater. The Rebels are led by two-time All-Mountain West honoree Chace Stanback (Sr., G/F) and three-year starting point guard Oscar Bellfield (Sr., G).

Two-time defending Mountain West Tournament champion San Diego State (34-3) is coming off the most successful season in program history. Senior guard Chase Tapley is the lone starter returning among six letterwinners from a team that set league and school records for overall wins while capturing a share of the MW regular-season title at 14-2. The Aztecs made their sixth straight postseason appearance, advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. SDSU closed out the 2010-11 season ranked sixth and 11th in the final Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches' polls, respectively.

Four seniors and one sophomore representing three institutions were chosen for the 2011-12 preseason all-MW team. New Mexico's Drew Gordon received Preseason MW Player of the Year honors, while San Diego State's Xavier Thames collected Preseason Newcomer of the Year accolades and New Mexico's Hugh Greenwood earned Preseason Freshman of the Year kudos.

The Mountain West will begin its 13th season of basketball competition on Friday, November 11.

Rk. School (First-Place Votes Pts.
1. New Mexico (22) 203
2. UNLV (4) 183
3. San Diego State 158
4. Colorado State 119
5. Air Force 78
6. Wyoming 68
7. TCU 64
8. Boise State 63

Name Class Position Institution
Oscar Bellfield Sr. G UNLV
Drew Gordon Sr. F New Mexico
Chace Stanback Sr. G/F UNLV
Hank Thorns Sr. G TCU
Kendall Williams So. G New Mexico
Preseason Player of the Year
Drew Gordon, Sr., F, New Mexico
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Xavier Thames, So., G, San Diego State
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Hugh Greenwood, G, New Mexico

All-Conference Team Bios

Preseason Player of the Year
Drew Gordon (6-9, 245, Sr., F, New Mexico) -
Named to 2011-12 John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list. Selected the 2010-11 Mountain West Newcomer of the Year. Also received second-team all-MW and second-team NABC All-District honors last season. Averaged 13.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in 2010-11 to become the first Lobo since 1976 to average a double-double. Led the team with 273 rebounds despite missing the first nine games of the season due to NCAA transfer rules. Broke the MW junior class record for single-season rebounds in Conference play with 189.

Oscar Bellfield (6-2, 185, Sr., G, UNLV) -
Three-year starter at point guard for UNLV. Has started a total of 99 games in a Runnin' Rebel uniform, including 78 straight. Named third-team All-Mountain West in 2010-11. Averaged 11.2 points per game last season while leading the team in assists (3.7 apg), 3-pointers made (66), free throw percentage (.833) and minutes played (33.7 mpg). Scored in double figures in 22 games last season.

Chace Stanback (6-8, 210, Sr., G/F, UNLV) -
Two-time third-team All-Mountain West honoree. Has started 66 of 67 games at UNLV. Is the Runnin' Rebels' top returning scorer (13.0 ppg) from a year ago. Led the team in rebounding (5.9 rpg) and field goals made (162) in 2010-11. Scored in double figures in 22 games last season, including five contests with 20 or more points. Has shot 40 percent or better from the field in each of his previous three seasons, entering the 2011-12 campaign with a .454 conversion rate.

Hank Thorns (5-9, 165, Sr., G, TCU) -
Named third-team All-Mountain West in 2010-11. Led the league and ranked fourth nationally in assist average (7.0) last season. Also led the MW and ranked No. 12 in the NCAA with a 2.71 assist-to-turnover ratio. Was the only player to finish the 2010-11 campaign ranked among the nation's top-12 in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. Finished No. 2 on the MW's single-season chart for total assists (225) in 2010-11.

Kendall Williams (6-3, 180, So., G, New Mexico) -
Received 2010-11 MW Freshman of the Year honors. Became the sixth freshman in MW history to score 400 points in his rookie season, netting 406. Averaged 11.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game in 2010-11. Was the only freshman to rank among the MW's top-10 in seven categories. Led the Lobos with 55 3-pointers.

Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Xavier Thames (6-3, 185, So., G, San Diego State) - Sat out the 2010-11 season after transferring to San Diego State from Washington State. Played in all 31 of the Cougars' games as a freshman in 2009-10, averaging nearly 18 minutes of action per game while contributing a 4.6 scoring average. Shot 41 percent (54-of-131) from the floor. Nearly a third of his rebounds (13-of-45) were on the offensive end.

Preseason Freshman of the Year
Hugh Greenwood (6-3, 209, G, New Mexico) - Attended the Australia Institute of Sport. Has played over 50 International Games for Australia, winning five gold and two bronze medals. Helped the U19 Australian National Team to the title at the Albert Schweitzer Games in Germany. Averaged 17.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game at the World Championships in Latvia in summer 2011.

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