BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Texas A&M's women's basketball team has been picked fifth in the pre-season women's basketball poll by a select panel of both SEC and national media members. The University of Kentucky, the defending SEC regular-season champions, was picked to win the SEC in 2013.
"Polls are great for fans and the media," Aggie head coach Gary Blair said. "As a newcomer to the SEC, I thought we were treated fairly and could have been picked anywhere from third through fifth. It is up to us to prove that we are an upper echelon team in the SEC and should be ranked in the national polls."
Blair, a recent selection into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, has led the Aggies to seven straight NCAA appearances including the 2011 National Championship title. Last season, the Aggies reached the NCAA Sweet 16, the fourth time in the last five seasons, and finished with an overall record of 24-11 and tied for second in the Big 12 Conference.
"Kentucky, Georgia and Vanderbilt all have at least four starters back and should be the favorites," Blair added. "Tennessee is in the same position as we are. We have both lost some key starters but the cupboard has been restocked with players and new coaches. It is unbelievable to see Tennessee picked fourth by the media. I do not believe the coaches will have them that low. The Pat Summitt influence is still there and I am sure Holly Warlick will fill the role with no problem. Just like our football, soccer and women's volleyball teams have done, look for Texas A&M to compete well in all sports in the SEC, including women's basketball."
The Aggies return two starters in pre-season All-SEC selection Kelsey Bone and guard Alexia Standish. Eight letter winners will mix with one of the top recruiting classes in the country to form another talented Aggie squad.
Blair welcomes back his associate head coach Kelly Bond-White along with a couple of new assistant coaches who are very familiar with SEC basketball in Bob Starkey, longtime assistant at LSU, as well as Amy Wright, who played for Coach Blair at the University of Arkansas.
The Aggies will be battle tested prior to SEC play as the women play at Louisville and at USC in non-conference play as well as a tough tournament in Las Vegas. Aggie fans will have the opportunity to watch some great basketball at Reed Arena as Penn State, UConn, Louisiana Tech and TCU come to Aggieland. (Fans can purchase season tickets at AggieAthletics.com and click on tickets.)
As the reigning SEC regular season champions, Kentucky returns 10 letterwinners and four starters from last season's NCAA Elite Eight squad, including SEC Player of the Year A'dia Mathies, SEC Freshman of the Year Bria Goss and NCAA Tournament Kingston All-Region team member Samarie Walker. The Wildcats also welcome back sophomore guard Jennifer O'Neill, who sat out the 2011-12 season due to injury, and junior forward DeNesha Stallworth, an All-Pac-10 selection, will see her first action after sitting out last season due to transfer regulations.
Kentucky tops the order of finish with 376 points, with Georgia (352), Vanderbilt (336), Tennessee (316), Texas A&M (284), LSU (251) and South Carolina (194) rounding out the top half of the league. Arkansas (168), Florida (144), Auburn (124), Mississippi State (116), Ole Miss (47), Missouri (39) and Alabama (36) round out the bottom half.
Kentucky's A'dia Mathies was the overwhelming choice of the media for SEC Women's Basketball Player of the Year with 20 votes, the remaining votes were for Vanderbilt's Christina Foggie, Florida's Jennifer George and Georgia's Anne Marie Armstrong.
Joining Mathies on the All-SEC First Team are Jennifer George, Florida; Anne Marie Armstrong, Georgia; Kelsey Bone, Texas A&M; and Christina Foggie, Vanderbilt.
Points were compiled on a 14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Each media member also voted for a five-player All-SEC Team and the Preseason SEC Player of the Year.
The 2012-13 SEC Media Preseason Poll tips off SEC Basketball Media Days, October 25 at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama. The SEC Women's Basketball Coaches Poll will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Preseason Media Poll
(First-Place Votes in Parentheses)
SEC Champion: Kentucky (20)
Player of the Year: A'dia Mathis (20); Christina Foggie (4); Anne Marie Armstrong (1); Jennifer George (1)
Order of Finish
1. Kentucky (20) 376
2. Georgia (1) 352
3. Vanderbilt (2) 336
4. Tennessee (2) 316
5. Texas A&M (1) 284
6. LSU 251
7. South Carolina 194
8. Arkansas 168
9. Florida 144
10. Auburn 124
11. Mississippi State 116
12. Ole Miss 47
13. Missouri 39
14. Alabama 36
Jennifer George, Florida
Anne Marie Armstrong, Georgia
A'dia Mathies, Kentukcy
Kelsey Bone, Texas A&M
Christina Foggie, Vanderbilt
Sarah Watkins, Arkansas
Jasmine Hassell, Georgia
Samarie Walker, Kentucky
Ieasia Walker, South Carolina
Meighan Simmons, Tennessee