George, Seay Earn Preseason WAC Honors
DOG PRINTS: Paul George (Photo Gallery)
Oct. 20, 2009
FRESNO, Calif. - Sophomore guard/forward Paul George and senior forward Sylvester Seay were honored by the Western Athletic Conference coaches as preseason second-team All-WAC selections, the WAC announced Tuesday.
Fresno State was one of three conference schools to have two student-athletes selected to preseason All-WAC honors.
The coaches also tabbed the Bulldogs to finish sixth while the media predicted a seventh-place finish after Fresno State's trip to the 2009 WAC Quarterfinals ended at the hands of eventual WAC champion Utah State.
"We have an outstanding conference and aside from two notable seniors graduating, everyone is back and stronger," Cleveland added of what he feels is the most competitive conference he has ever coached. "We all need to have success in our non-conference games to show the quality of our league ."
The expectations for Cleveland's fifth campaign are high with a stacked roster and the return of three starters (George, Seay and 2009 Academic All-District VIII honoree Nedeljko Golubovic). Fresno State also will draw on 2008-09 letterwinners junior Brandon Webster and sophomores Mychal Ladd and 2009 Academic All-WAC Brandon Sperling. The Dogs also add seven talented newcomers, including a nationally-ranked early signing recruiting class in Jerry Brown III, Garrett Johnson and Greg Smith, two key transfers in Steven Shepp and Jonathan Wills and two redshirt freshmen in Justin Johnson and Taylor Kelly.
"We are cautiously optimistic about the upcoming season," head coach Steve Cleveland in the WAC media teleconference Tuesday. "Paul and Ves are both good players and demonstrated last year that they can rebound and score. I am confident we will score, but we have to improve our defense and be more consistent on every possession. We are going to have some depth and an accountability piece that has made practices much better with the guys competing for their spots on the floor."
George (Palmdale, Calif.) proved to be a dynamic, game-changing freshman who made an immediate impact as the core of the foundation for the Bulldogs' storied program. He delivered one of the most impressive freshman performances in Bulldog history as one of the top 15 freshmen scorers in the NCAA last season. During his freshman campaign, George averaged 14.3 points, a team-high 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and a team-high 1.7 steals per game while shooting 47 percent from the field. He recorded the third-best season 3-point field goal percentage (63-141, 44.6%) in Bulldog history and led the team with six double-doubles.
Seay (San Bernardino, Calif.) emerged as the Bulldogs' primary threat from the low post with the ability to also knock down shots from all over the floor, including a 32-point performance on the road at Utah State and a 60-foot buzzer beater in Fresno State's home contest against the same Aggies. He earned second-team All-WAC honors in his first season in a Bulldog uniform after redshirting 2007-08 as a Division I transfer. The junior led the team with 15.3 points and 1.7 blocks, and grabbed 5.8 rebounds per game while shooting 46 percent from the field. Seay swatted the tenth-most blocks (58) in a single season by a Bulldog, recorded three double-doubles and scored 20 or more points in five consecutive games late in the year.
This marks the first time since Cleveland's second season at Fresno State that two Bulldogs were named to the preseason All-WAC honors, when the Dogs started the year 7-0 and earned Cleveland's third NIT bid with a 22-10 overall record.
The coaches and media both selected the defending WAC champion Utah State Aggies as the league top preseason team and Nevada's sophomore forward Luke Babbitt as the Preseason Player of the Year. The media also tabbed Idaho's senior transfer Steffan Johnson as this year's preseason Newcomer of the Year.
In the coaches' poll, Utah State, the 2008-09 WAC regular season and tournament champion, received eight first place votes and 64 points. Nevada captured second place with 53 points, receiving one first-place vote. New Mexico State took third place with 50 points. With 42 points, Idaho was voted fourth. Louisiana Tech (31) and Fresno State (30) followed closely behind in fifth and sixth place, respectively. Boise State (23) and San Jose State (19) finished seventh and eighth, respectively, while Hawai`i (12) was ranked ninth.
The coaches also voted on preseason first and second all-WAC teams. Babbitt, the 2008-09 WAC Freshman of the Year, led the list of first-teamers. Idaho senior guard Mac Hopson, Nevada junior guard Armon Johnson, Utah State senior guard Jared Quayle and New Mexico State junior guard Jahmar Young also earned spots on the preseason first team. The media agreed and chose the same players for their only preseason team.
In addition to George and Seay, second-team coaches' selections included Roderick Flemings (Hawai`i), Kyle Gibson (Louisiana Tech) and Tai Wesley (Utah State).
In the media poll, Utah State received 273 points and 15 first-place votes. Nevada was picked second with 269 points and 12 first place votes. New Mexico State garnered 226 points and six first place votes for third place followed by Idaho with 193 points. Boise State was fifth with 145 points followed by Louisiana Tech 140 points. Fresno State was seventh with 130 points, followed by San Jose State (88) and Hawai`i (66).
Fresno State will hold its preseason men's basketball "Media Day" later today, starting at 3:15 p.m. in the Save Mart Center.
The team will compete in its first and only exhibition game of the season on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. against the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds in the Save Mart Center before starting the regular season at home for the fourth consecutive year when the Dogs meet San Francisco State on Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.
The following is the complete 2008-09 WAC men's basketball media poll with first-place votes in parentheses (points awarded on a 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis):
2009-10 Men's Basketball Coaches Poll
Coaches' Preseason All-WAC Teams
Player of the Year: Luke Babbitt, Nevada
2009-10 Men's Basketball Media Poll
Media Preseason All-WAC Team
Preseason Player of the Year: Luke Babbitt, So., F, Nevada
"We Are Your Team" - Season tickets in the lower bowl are available by calling the Bulldog Foundation at (559) 244-5600 or by visiting www.bulldogfoundation.org. Upper Bowl season tickets can be purchased for $189 at www.gobulldogs.com, by calling (559) 278-DOGS or by visiting the Bulldog Ticket Office south of Bulldog Stadium. All season tickets include a general admission ticket to Fresno State's Dec. 1 game at Selland Arena. All other home games are played at the Save Mart Center.