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October 28, 2008

Yates leads preseason honors

Two weeks ago, Sun Belt coaches voted on the preseason all league teams and named Middle Tennessee forward Desmond Yates the preseason Player of the Year in the league.

Over the next three days, GoMiddle.com will hand out our preseason honors, starting with our picks for first team all league today.

Our first team is an exact replica of the one announced two weeks ago at the Sun Belt's annual media day event.

GoMiddle.com Preseason All Sun Belt-First Team

Desmond Yates - Middle Tennessee Player of the Year

Yates may be the toughest individual matchup in the conference because of his offensive versatility. He can score in a variety of ways with his back to the basket and can easily handle bigger defenders by pulling them out away from the goal. Yates is very efficient from behind the three point line and is nearly automatic from inside the paint. His explosiveness and quick release around the rim are two of his strongest advantages. The redshirt junior is on pace through two seasons to eventually become Middle Tennessee's all time leading scorer.

Carlos Monroe - Florida Atlantic

A relentless rebounder, Monroe is the type of player that can will the Owls to victory on any given night. The power forward doesn't take his offensive game too far out of the lane, but he is an enforcer in the paint area. Monroe averaged nearly 10 rebounds a game last season, poured in 15.4 points, and also led his team in steals. He struggles from the free throw line, but he is still expected to be Yates' key competition for postseason honors in the league.

Josh White - North Texas

The Mean Green point guard is one of the craftiest players in the league. He can push tempo well and is a lethal shooter from behind the three point line. White can improve his overall efficiency by improving his assist-to-turnover ratio, but the sophomore made a tremendous splash in his first season last year. It is mandatory that defenses pick him up early or White can quickly generate a transition basket.

Russell Hicks - Florida International

The 7-footer made an instant impact with the Golden Panthers last year after transferring to the Sun Belt from Pepperdine. Hicks is a game changer defensively and set a new school record last year for blocked shots (60) while also ranking seventh in the Sun Belt in field goal percentage on the offensive end. Hicks has excellent footwork in the post and may be an even bigger factor this year with the arrival of transfer point guard Josue Soto in the backcourt.

Brandon Davis - South Alabama

Davis is a beast in the frontcourt for the Jaguars despite being undersized at 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds. Davis has a non-stop motor though that helped him lead South Alabama in blocked shots last season while also accumulating 22 steals. Davis is tremendously efficient offensively as well. He ranked second in the league in shooting percentage and averaged an offensive rebound for every 10 minutes of game action, an astounding figure. Along with point guard Daon Merritt, Davis was the only other Jaguar to start every game last year, which shows what head coach Ronnie Arrow thinks of him.

GoMiddle.com Countdown to Tipoff

40 days-October 6th: Schedule full of challenges, opportunities
39 days-October 7th: Sun Belt newcomers to watch
38 days-October 8th: Strong memory motivates Yates
37 days-October 9th: Kanaskie in position to leave a legacy
36 days-October 10th: Johnson driving force behind MT attack
35 days-October 11th: O'Neil hopes to pick up where he left off
34 days-October 12th: Boyd's long awaited debut getting closer
33 days-October 13th: Allen may be MT's missing piece
32 days-October 14th: Hudson aiming for quick recovery
31 days-October 15th: Williams can be a first year factor
30 days-October 16th: X-Factor Hair could push Raiders over top
29 days-October 17th: Green's contributions important for MT
28 days-October 18th: Lighter Haddock making big early impression
27 days-October 19th: Jones adjusting to new level
26 days-October 20th: Avery is a glue man for Blue Raiders
25 days-October 21st: Hopson brings plenty of value
24 days-October 22nd: Inside a scouting report with Artie Pepelea
23 days-October 23rd: Case has bright outlook in new post
22 days-October 24th: Top five wins of Kermit Davis era
21 days-October 25th: Top five near misses of Kermit Davis era
20 days-October 26th: Davis era: Top five individual performances
19 days-October 27th: Hoops facilities have come a long way at MT
18 days-October 28th: GoMiddle.com Preseason All Sun Belt-First Team



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