West Babylon, N.Y. – On the heels of back-to-back conference championships, the St. Thomas Aquinas men's basketball team was a unanimous selection atop the 2017-18 East Coast Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll. Justin Reyes (Havehill, Mass.), the league's two-time reigning Player of the Year, was also selected as the Preseason Player of the Year.
The Spartans, who in addition to their ECC title advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight after winning their first-ever East Region Championship in 2017, return seven players from last year's roster including Reyes, starters Jules de Courtenay and James Mitchell, and near double-digit scorer (9.9 ppg), Shaquille McFarlan. St. Thomas Aquinas also adds Division I transfers, Chris Atikinson (Canisius) and Kameron Murrell (George Mason), and six freshman to the roster. The returners and newcomers on the roster add up to the Spartans earning all 10 first place votes in the league's preseason poll. Expectations are high for the Spartans to compete at the national level as well, as they begin the season ranked No. 3 in the country in the Division II Bulletin Preseason Top-25.
Reyes was superb in leading the Spartans to ECC and NCAA East Region titles a season ago. He led the ECC with 240 field goals made, a 62.2 field goal percentage, and 168 free throws made while also ranking in the top-three in the league with 20.6 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game, 69 steals, and 49 blocks. In addition, Reyes was among the national leaders in double-doubles, ranking 11th with 15 on the year. His outstanding play earned him the ECC Player of the Year honor for the second year in a row and also earned him consensus All-America status.
Bridgeport and Daemen, both ECC Championship semifinalists a season ago, tied for second in the poll with 83 points. Next up at No. 4 is LIU Post with 62 points, followed by District of Columbia (53 points) and Molloy (52 points) to round out the teams expected to advance to this year's ECC Championship.
2017-2018 ECC Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll
|School||Pts.||Last Year's Record|
|1. St. Thomas Aquinas (10)||100||28-6 (15-3 ECC)|
|T2. Bridgeport||83||18-12 (12-6 ECC)|
|T2. Daemen||83||19-9 (12-6 ECC)|
|4. LIU Post||62||10-18 (9-9 ECC)|
|5. Dist. Columbia||53||14-13 (11-7 ECC)|
|6. Molloy||52||18-11 (13-5 ECC)|
|7. NYIT||45||8-18 (6-12 ECC)|
|8. Queens||38||13-13 (10-8 ECC)|
|9. Roberts Wesleyan||19||3-24 (2-16 ECC)|
|10. Mercy||15||2-25 (0-18 ECC)|
( ) - first place votes
Preseason Player of the Year - Justin Reyes, St. Thomas Aquinas (6-4, Sr., G/F, Haverhill, Mass.)