For the third consecutive season, Midwestern State is picked to finish second in the race for the 2015-16 Lone Star Conference championship according to a panel of basketball coaches, sports information directors and selected media.
Midwestern boasts a 97-30 record over the last four seasons under coach Nelson Haggerty while claiming LSC titles in five of the last seven seasons, advancing to seven straight NCAA Division II tournament including Elite Eight showings in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The Mustangs piled up at least 20 wins in each of the last seven seasons, as well.
MSU returns the LSC Preseason Player of the Year in senior Bretson McNeal.
The 6-2, 185-pound guard from Minneapolis, Minn. poured in 15.9 points per game last season connected on 42.3-percent of shots from beyond the arc while hitting at an 89.9-percent clip from the charity stripe.
McNeal scored 20-or-more points in eight games and recorded double-figure points in 26 of 28 games with a season-high of 27 against in win over South Region finalist Lynn (Fla.) on Dec. 15.
MSU returns eight letter winners and two starters off of last season's team led by McNeal, senior forward Khapri Alston (8.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and sophomore Devante Pullum (10.0 ppg, 3.6 apg).
The Mustangs also welcome back senior guard Hershell Grant, senior forward DeVaughn Jones, junior forward Trevor Fuller, junior guard Pat Smith and sophomore forward Nick Powell.
Midwestern bolstered the roster with a trio of Division I transfers in senior guard Jordan Stevens (Duquesne) and junior forwards Magnus Richards (Binghamton) and Matt Pollard (San Jose State).
The Mustangs also added a group of five transfers to a deep roster including senior guard Brandon Golden (McMurry), junior guard Sheldon Hagigal (Trinity Valley CC), sophomore guard Mike Udume (Northern Iowa ACC), sophomore guard Clay Morgan (Cowley County CC) and sophomore forward Nemanja Krtolica (Western Texas).
The Mustangs open the campaign with a pair of exhibition games at D.L. Ligon Coliseum playing host to LSU-Sheveport on Sunday, Nov. 1 at 3:30 p.m. and Huston-Tillotson on Nov. 11.
MSU tips off regular season play at home on Nov. 15 against Oklahoma City. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
LSC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll:
Preseason Player of the Year: Bretson McNeal, MSU
1. Tarleton State (19) 173 pts
2. MSU Mustangs (3) 151
3. Angelo State 120
4. Texas A&M-Comerce (3) 109
5. West Texas A&M 84
6. Cameron 72
7. Texas A&M-Kingsville 55
8. Eastern New Mexico 28
Following a 23-win campaign that included a NCAA Tournament appearance and runner-up finish in the Lone Star Conference, the Midwestern State women's basketball team was tabbed third in the LSC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll, voted on by the league's coaches, sports information directors and media representatives in the region.
The Mustangs earned 157 points from the 25 ballots cast in the preseason poll. Two-time reigning LSC champion and Elite Eight participant West Texas A&M totaled 220 points and 23 first place votes to be announced as the league's favorite. Texas Woman's and Cameron each received one first place vote with TWU coming in second with 171 points and the Aggies coming in fourth with 140.
Rounding out the LSC Preseason Poll was Tarleton State (135), Texas A&M-Commerce (128), Angelo State (77), Eastern New Mexico (69) and Texas A&M-Kingsville (28).
WT junior guard Sasha Watson was selected as the LSC Preseason Player of the Year, earning 19 of the 25 votes.
The Mustangs are coming off one of their most successful seasons in the program's 40 years of existence with a 23-7 record, tying for the third-most wins in school history. Under the direction of head coach Noel Johnson, the Mustangs advanced to their third-straight NCAA Tournament before suffering a first round loss to Colorado Christian, 67-57.
Johnson, who holds a career mark of 113-84 (.574), returns five letterwinners entering her eighth season in 2015-16. Midwestern also brings back three redshirts from a season ago along with nine new additions to the squad including six true freshmen.
The Mustangs open the 2015-16 season next Thursday with an exhibition game against NCAA Division I Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
LSC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll:
Preseason Player of the Year: Sasha Watson, West Texas A&M