INDIANAPOLIS — Ohio Dominican's men's basketball team was picked fifth in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches Poll presented by Under Armour, the conference announced Tuesday.
ODU accrued 77 points overall to finish tied for fifth in the poll with Walsh, which also picked up 77 points. Findlay, Kentucky Wesleyan, Hillsdale and Alderson Broaddus rounded out the top five in the preseason voting conducted by the league's coaches.
The Panthers are coming off their best season since 2007-08, finishing the 2016-17 campaign with a 14-12 (9-11) mark in the first winning season for the program in nearly a decade. ODU has consistently improved under fifth-year head coach Dan Evans, increasing its win total from the previous year in each season since 2013-14.
Ohio Dominican returns 14 student-athletes from last season's roster, including all starters from 2016-17. Seniors Ronnie Williams (Columbus, Ohio) and Shemar Waugh (Columbus, Ohio) return with a bevy of experience at the guard position with a combined 106 starts in their careers. Williams led the Panthers in scoring last season at 13.7 points per contest and at 952 career points, needs just 48 more to become the 24th, 1,000-point scorer in program history. Waugh returns after garnering GLIAC All-Defensive team honors last season with 1.3 steals in 25.5 minutes per contest.
Sophomores Hasan Varence (Queens, New York) and Sam Hickey (Toledo, Ohio) will look to make significant impacts in their second seasons at ODU after ranking second and third in scoring last season for the Panthers. Varence averaged 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest in 26 starts, shooting 60.6 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from three-point range. Hickey finished with the third-highest three-point field goal percentage for a season in ODU men's basketball history, connecting on 46 percent of his tries from long range. Hickey's 74 three-pointers in 2016-17 puts him seventh all-time for threes made in a season in program history. The sophomore connected on eight three-pointers in three games, with each performance ranking second all-time for made threes in a single game for Ohio Dominican.
Entering his senior season with the best field goal percentage in ODU men's basketball history is Mike DeLeon (Powell, Ohio), who is shooting 60.6 percent for his career. DeLeon shot 63.6 percent from the floor last year, second-best in program history for a single season.
In addition to the 14 returners, Ohio Dominican welcomes two newcomers, sophomore Shawn Moore (Indianapolis, Indiana) and freshman Matt King (Mason, Ohio). Moore started in 11 games last season at Spring Hill College, averaging 7.0 points per game while also tallying 10 blocked shots. King enters the program after earning All-Greater Miami Valley Conference honors while at Mason High School.
The Panthers face Dayton in an exhibition contest on Saturday, November 4 at 7 p.m. at UD Arena. The squad opens the regular season on Friday, November 10 at Tiffin as part of the G-MAC/GLIAC Challenge and will host Ashland on Sunday, November 12 at Alumni Hall in its first home contest. Ohio Dominican will compete in seven non-conference games and will play in 20 Great Midwest matchups this season.
2017 Great Midwest Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll presented by Under Armour
1. Findlay 121 pts - 11 first-place votes
2. Kentucky Wesleyan - 108 - 1 first-place vote
3. Hillsdale - 96
4. Alderson Broaddus - 91
5. Ohio Dominican - 77
Walsh - 77
7. Malone - 53
8. Davis & Elkins - 51
9. Cedarville - 41
10. Lake Erie - 33
Trevecca - 33
12. Ohio Valley - 11
Contact: Aaron McPherson