BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Texas A&M women's
basketball team has been picked third in the Southeastern Conference Preseason
Coaches' poll, the league's office announced Tuesday. Kentucky, the defending
SEC regular-season champion, was picked to win the SEC in 2013, followed
closely by Georgia and Texas A&M.
The Aggies return two starters and six additional
letterwinners from the 2012 Sweet 16 team, who are joined by Texas A&M's
highest-rated recruiting class in program history as they embark on the
programs inaugural season of SEC play.
"As a newcomer to the SEC, I appreciate the league's coaches
recognizing our program. With that said, polls are for fans and the media to
talk about before the season gets started," Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair
said. "I thought we would be picked anywhere from third through fifth and it will
be up to us to prove we are one of the better teams in this league."
The Aggies will be battle
tested prior to league play as the women will play three top-ten teams to open
the season and will continue a difficult non-conference schedule prior to their
first league game against Alabama on Jan. 3.
"Kentucky and Georgia both have at least four starters
returning and should be league favorites," Blair added. "Vanderbilt is also
returning a great group of players. Tennessee is in a similar position to
us, in that we lost some starters but have restocked the cupboard with some new
players and coaches."
The Aggies' lone representative on the preseason first team
was junior Kelsey Bone. Bone is not a newcomer to the league, having
played her freshman year at South Carolina and led the league in rebounding
prior to transferring to Texas A&M. Bone was recognized as the SEC Newcomer
of the year in 2009-2010 and was Second Team All-SEC by the Associated Press
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 at Cal, will see her first action after
sitting out last season due to transfer regulations.
Kentucky tops the order of finish with 167 points, with
Georgia (149), Texas A&M (145), Vanderbilt (143), Tennessee (117), South
Carolina (102) and LSU (96) rounding out the top half of the coaches' poll.
Florida (92), Arkansas (72), Auburn (57), Mississippi State (51), Alabama (33),
Missouri (33) and Ole Miss (17) finishing up the bottom half of the list.
Kentucky's Mathies was voted the Preseason SEC Player of the
Year, receiving nine of a possible 13 votes. Christina Foggie (3) of Vanderbilt
and Anne Marie Armstrong (1) of Georgia also garnered votes for the accolade.
Joining Bone and Mathies on the preseason first team were
Foggie, Armstrong, Sarah Watkins of Arkansas, Jennifer George of Florida,
Jasmine Hassell of Georgia, Meighan Simmons of Tennessee and Jasmine Lister of
The second team consisted of Jasmine James of Georgia, Bria
Goss and Samarie Walker of Kentucky, Adrienne Webb of LSU, Valencia McFarland
of Ole Miss, Ieasia Walker of South Carolina, Ariel Massengale of Tennessee and
Tiffany Clarke of Vanderbilt.
Preseason Coaches' Poll
3. Texas A&M
14. Ole Miss
FIRST TEAM ALL-SEC
Sarah Watkins, Arkansas
Jennifer George, Florida
Anne Marie Armstrong, Georgia
Jasmine Hassell, Georgia
A'dia Mathies, Kentucky
Meighan Simmons, Tennessee
Kelsey Bone, Texas A&M
Christina Foggie, Vanderbilt
Jasmine Lister, Vanderbilt
SECOND TEAM ALL-SEC
Jasmine James, Georgia
Bria Goss, Kentucky
Samarie Walker, Kentucky
Adrienne Webb, LSU
Valencia McFarland, Ole Miss
Ieasia Walker, South Carolina
Ariel Massengale, Tennessee
Tiffany Clarke, Vanderbilt
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Anne Marie Armstrong,