ATLANTA — Brandon Morris of Benedict was voted the 2017 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Preseason Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and Kendarius Ash of Lane was selected as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, announced on Saturday by the league office.
The preseason honors and predicted order of finish is voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.
Brandon Morris, a 6-8 senior forward from Lithonia, Ga., averaged 18 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in his first season with Benedict (17-12, 12-5 SIAC). In conference games, Morris led the SIAC with 21.4 points per game, was sixth in rebounding at 8.1 rpg, shot .552 from the floor and averaged 1.0 blocks per game. Morris was named the SIAC Newcomer of the Week five times and Player of the Week once last season, then swept the SIAC Newcomer of the Year and SIAC Player of the Year awards. He recorded nine double-doubles this season and received six SIAC Men’s Basketball Weekly honors throughout the year. His best games during the season came within days of each other when he helped Benedict escape Clark Atlanta 79-78 on Jan. 28. Morris led all players in points (35) and rebounds (12). Days later in a 120-117 quadruple overtime win at Morehouse, Morris scored a career-high 36 points and finished with 13 rebounds. He was named to the Division II All-American Team by BOXTOROW.
Kendarius Ash, the 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year, helped Lane clinch the SIAC west division title last season as the Dragons (17-9) finished with a 14-3 record in conference play. Ash averaged a double-double during the 2016-17 regular season with 12.1 points and 12.8 rebounds per game. Ash was ranked first in the conference in rebounds (12.8) which is second in NCAA Division II and has averaged 14.0 rebounds per game in conference games. He recorded 321 rebounds this past season and was ranked third in NCAA Division II in total rebounds.
Joining Morris and Ash on the 2017 SIAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Team are Dwight Richards, Jr. (Central State), Brandon Morris (Benedict), Tyrius Walker (Morehouse), Dorian Jordan (Kentucky State), Malcolm Whittington (Paine), Reggie Breeden (Kentucky State), Walter Massey (Spring Hill), James Eads (Tuskegee), Damien Davis (Clark Atlanta), Reshun Ellis (LeMoyne-Owen), and Anthony Williams (Clark Atlanta).
Benedict is expected to finish first in the poll for the eastern division with nine first-place votes. Claflin is anticipated to finish second with only one first-place vote ahead of Clark Atlanta who is expected to finish third with six first-place votes. With two first-place votes, Morehouse is expected to finish fourth, followed by Fort Valley and Albany State. Paine garnered one first-place vote to place seventh and finish out the division.
Lane led the west division in the preseason poll with nine first-place votes, followed by Miles who is expected to finish second with two first-place votes. Kentucky State was third with two first-place votes ahead of LeMoyne-Owen who managed four first-place votes. With two first-place votes, Tuskegee is expected to finish fifth ahead of Central State who garnered one first-place vote. Spring Hill rounded out the west division in seventh place with three first-place votes.
2017 SIAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Honors
Preseason Player of the Year: Brandon Morris, Benedict
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Kendarius Ash, Lane
|Dwight Richards, Jr.*||Central State||Senior||Forward||Fort Wayne, Ind.|
|Brandon Morris*||Benedict||Senior||Forward||Lithonia, Ga.|
|Tyrius Walker*||Morehouse||Senior||Guard||Atlanta. Ga.|
|Kendarius Ash*||Lane||Junior||Forward||Decatur, Ga.|
|Dorian Jordan||Kentucky State||Senior||Guard||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Malcolm Whittington||Paine College||Senior||Guard||Long Beach, CA|
|Reggie Breeden||Kentucky State University||Senior||Guard||Louisville, Ky.|
|Walter Massey||Spring Hill College||Senior||Guard/Forward||Eight Mile, Ala.|
|James Eads||Tuskegee University||Junior||Guard/Forward||Orlando, FL|
|Damien Davis||Clark Atlanta University||Senior||Center||Bronx, NY|
|Reshun Ellis (formerly Rashawn Brown)||LeMoyne-Owen||Senior||Guard||Memphis, TN|
|Anthony Williams||Clark Atlanta||Senior||Guard||Brooklyn, NY|
* Indicates returner from the 2016-17 SIAC All-Conference Team
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
(First Place Votes in parenthesis)
- East Division
- Benedict College – (9)
- Claflin University – (1)
- Clark Atlanta University – (6)
- Morehouse College – (2)
- Fort Valley State University – (2)
- Albany State University – (2)
- Paine College – (1)
- West Division
- Lane College – (9)
- Miles College – (2)
- Kentucky State University – (2)
- LeMoyne-Owen College – (4)
- Tuskegee University—(2)
- Central State University – (1)
- Spring Hill College – (3)