BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Two-time defending Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament champion Alabama State has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the conference crown in a preseason poll of the league's head coaches and sports information directors. The announcement was made during the SWAC’s annual tipoff media teleconference Wednesday morning.
The Lady Hornets, who shared the regular-season crown with Texas Southern and Southern University thanks to identical 14-4 records in league play, posted a 19-12 overall record en route to successfully defending their tournament championship. Texas Southern was selected to finish second, with Southern, Grambling State and Prairie View A&M rounding out the top five.
Jackson State was picked to finish sixth, followed by Alcorn State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Mississippi Valley State and Alabama A&M finishing up the preseason prognostications.
2016-17 Preseason All-SWAC Women’s Basketball Team
Also for the second-straight year, Alabama State forward Britney Wright was tabbed as the preseason choice for Player of the Year. Wright heads into her senior season on the heels of a campaign that saw her earn first-team all-conference honors as well as tournament MVP accolades. Wright averaged 14.7 points a night – fourth in the league – and ranked fifth in rebounding at 8.1 boards per game.
Southern’s Cortnei Purnell and Alcorn State’s Henrietta Wells split the preseason nod for Defensive Player of the Year. Wells was second in the league in swatted shots last season at 2.9 per contest, and Purnell helped anchor a Jaguars unit that ranked in the top 3 in terms of field goal percentage allowed, scoring defense, and rebounding percentage.
Joining Wright, Wells and Purnell on the first team are Grambling State guard Shakyla Hill, Mississippi Valley State guard Christina Reed, and forward Brianna Green (Southern). Filling out the second-team selections are Texas Southern guard Joyce Kennerson, Jackson State guard Derica Wiggins, forwards Daniele Ewert (Alabama State) and Ashley Beals (Mississippi Valley State) and Southern center Miaya Crowder.
In the event that a player was named to the first team during the postseason and does not return, the second-team player for that position was elevated to the first team. Players were ranked in their position based on the number of votes received.
Women’s 2016-17 Preseason Award Winners
PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Britney Wright (Alabama State)
PRESEASON CO-DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Henrietta Wells (Alcorn State)/Cortnei Purnell (Southern)
PRESEASON ALL-SWAC WOMEN’S BASKETBALL - FIRST TEAM
G Shakyla Hill (Grambling State)
G Christina Reed (Mississippi Valley State)
F Britney Wright (Alabama State)/Brianna Green (Southern)
F Cortnei Purnell (Southern)
C Henrietta Wells (Alcorn State)
PRESEASON ALL-SWAC WOMEN’S BASKETBALL - SECOND TEAM
G Joyce Kennerson (Texas Southern)
G Derica Wiggins (Jackson State)
F Daniele Ewert (Alabama State)
F Ashley Beals (Mississippi Valley State)
C Miaya Crowder (Southern)
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL – PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Alabama State - 136
2. Texas Southern - 125
3. Southern – 120
4. Grambling State – 105
5. Prairie View A&M – 83
6. Jackson State – 70
7. Alcorn State – 63
8. Arkansas-Pine Bluff – 58
9. Mississippi Valley State – 33
10. Alabama A&M – 32