EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Eastern Kentucky University junior forward Nick Mayo and sophomore guard Asante Gist have been named to the Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference Team, the league announced on Tuesday, Oct. 24 from its annual Media Day.
EKU was picked to finish fourth out of 12 teams in a preseason poll of league head coaches and media relations directors.
Mayo was voted first team All-OVC for the second straight year in 2016-17 after finishing the regular season ranked among the OVC’s leaders in scoring (fifth/18.5 points-per-game), rebounding (12th/6.5 rebounds-per-game), assists, blocks, field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage and free throw percentage.
The 6-9 forward from Oakland, Maine scored in double figures in every game last season, and has now scored in double figures in 34 straight games dating back to his freshman season. Mayo is on pace to be EKU’s all-time leading scorer after he became the first Colonel ever to reach the 1,000-point plateau as a sophomore.
Gist exploded on the scene in his first season in Richmond. The 5-11 guard from East Orange, New Jersey was voted to the five-man OVC All-Newcomer Team after starting 29 games and ranking 10th in the OVC in scoring (15.9 points-per-game) and ninth in assists (3.8 assists-per-game). He led all freshmen in the league in both categories. He also broke EKU’s freshman scoring record with 494 points, which was the sixth-most of any freshman in the country during the regular season.
Gist was one of only seven freshmen in the country to average 15.5-plus points and 3.5-plus assists-per-game during the regular season, joining the likes of Washington’s Markelle Fultz, N.C. State’s Dennis Smith, Jr. and Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox. He was voted OVC Freshman of the Week seven times, the most of any rookie in the league.
During OVC play, Gist ranked eighth in the league in scoring (17.3 points-per-game) and seventh in assists (3.8 assists-per-game).
He is one of only two underclassmen on the 11-person Preseason All-OVC Team, joining Southeast Missouri sophomore Denzel Mahoney. Every other player is either a senior or a junior.
EKU received 139 points to finish fourth in the preseason Coaches poll. Defending regular season champion Belmont was tabbed the preseason favorite with 18 first-place votes and 235 votes. Defending OVC Tournament champion Jacksonville State finished second with three first-place votes and 213 points, edging out Murray State, who finished third with three first-place votes and 212 points.
Tennessee Tech finished fifth in the poll with 137 points, followed by Eastern Illinois (135), Tennessee State (125), UT Martin (114), Morehead State (89), Southeast Missouri (82), Austin Peay (63) and SIUE (40).
Murray State senior guard Jonathan Stark was voted the OVC Preseason Player of the Year.
EKU returns five of its top six scorers from 2016-17, including Mayo, Gist, senior forward Zach Charles (7.0 points / 6.5 rebounds-per-game), senior guard Dillon Avare (62 three-pointers) and sophomore forward DeAndre Dishman (team-best 61.5% field goal percentage).
Junior forward Jackson Davis, a 6-8 transfer from Butler, is also expected to play a key role this season.
Talented newcomers Dedric Boyd, Peyton Broughton, Cameron Carmical, Mason Cooper, JacQuess Hobbs and A.J. Youngman will only bolster the Colonels’ depth.
For the first time ever, the OVC’s Media Day was held at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana, the site of the 2018 OVC Tournament.
EKU opens the 2017-18 campaign on Friday, November 10 versus Rice in Houston.
Below is the 2017-18 OVC Preseason basketball men's predicted order of finish as selected by OVC head basketball coaches and sports information directors:
1. Belmont (18 first-place votes) - 235 points 2. Jacksonville State (3) - 213 3. Murray State (3) - 212 4. Eastern Kentucky - 139 5. Tennessee Tech - 137 6. Eastern Illinois - 135 7. Tennessee State - 125 8. UT Martin - 114 9. Morehead State - 89 10. Southeast Missuouri - 82 11. Austin Peay - 63 12. SIUE - 40