NORFOLK, Va. — Delaware State junior forward NaJai Pollard was selected as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Women’s Basketball Preseason Player of the Year, the conference announced Wednesday. Hampton was selected as the preseason favorite to win the MEAC this coming season.
All awards are voted on by the conference’s head coaches and sports information directors.
Pollard led the MEAC in both scoring and rebounding in 2016-17, averaging 18.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest. Her .571 field goal percentage was also the best in the conference, and she also tied for fifth in blocked shots (2.0 per game. She was seventh in the nation with 12 double-doubles last season, and Pollard also ranked among the top 25 nationally in offensive rebounding (4.0 per game) and made free throws (150).
Hampton picked up 13 first-place votes in being named the preseason favorite. The Lady Pirates won 20 games and their sixth MEAC Tournament title in eight seasons last year. Defending regular-season champion Bethune-Cookman was picked to finish second, receiving seven first-place votes, while North Carolina A&T State picked up five first-place votes and was picked to finish third.
Rounding out the rest of the preseason poll are Norfolk State, Howard, Florida A&M, Maryland Eastern Shore (one first-place vote), Morgan State, Coppin State, Savannah State, Delaware State, South Carolina State and North Carolina Central.
Joining Pollard on the Preseason All-MEAC First Team are Bethune-Cookman’s Ashanti Hunt, Coppin State’s Genesis Lucas, Hampton’s Monnazjea Finney-Smith and Norfolk State’s Kayla Roberts.
The 2017-18 season begins on Friday, Nov. 10, with eight teams in action.
The 2018 MEAC Basketball Tournament will be held March 5-10 at the Norfolk Scope Arena in Norfolk, Va.
2017-18 Predicted Order of Finish
As voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors; first-place votes are in parentheses
|1. Hampton (13)||320|
|2. Bethune-Cookman (7)||292|
|3. North Carolina A&T State (5)||271|
|4. Norfolk State||232|
|6. Florida A&M||185|
|7. Maryland Eastern Shore (1)||184|
|8. Morgan State||166|
|9. Coppin State||155|
|10. Savannah State||97|
|11. Delaware State||93|
|12. South Carolina State||78|
|13. North Carolina Central||70|
2017-18 Preseason All-MEAC Teams
As voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors
Preseason Player of the Year: NaJai Pollard, Delaware State
|NaJai Pollard||F||5-11||Jr.||Delaware State||Richmond, Va.|
|Genesis Lucas||G||5-7||r-Sr.||Coppin State||Brandywine, Md.|
|Kayla Roberts||G/F||6-1||Sr.||Norfolk State||Miami, Fla.|
|Ashanti Hunt||G||5-11||Jr.||Bethune-Cookman||Washington, D.C.|
|Monnazjea Finney-Smith||G/F||6-1||Sr.||Hampton||Portsmouth, Va.|
|Breanna Farrar||G||5-6||Sr.||Morgan State||St. Louis, Mo.|
|Bryaesha Blair||G||5-4||Gr.||South Carolina State||Chicago, Ill.|
|Jephany Brown||G/F||6-0||Sr.||Hampton||Washington, D.C.|
|Alexus Lessears||C||6-3||So.||North Carolina A&T State||Cleveland, Ohio|
|Shakerrya Morrison||G/F||6-0||Sr.||Florida A&M||Zebulon, N.C.|
|Jordan Strode||G||5-8||r-Sr.||Norfolk State||Charlotte, N.C.|
|K’lynn Willis||G||5-3||Jr.||Hampton||Detroit, Mich.|
|Keyera Eaton||G||5-8||Jr.||Maryland Eastern Shore||Winston-Salem, N.C.|
|Chance Graham||C||5-11||So.||Coppin State||Upper Marlboro, Md.|
|Tykyrah Williams||F||5-10||Sr.||Morgan State||Durham, N.C.|