SMU was named the preseason favorite in the American Athletic Conference, but UConn got plenty of recognition at Tuesday's conference media day in Orlando.
After a 20-15 season in a post-national championship year, the Huskies received two first-place votes in the annual preseason coaches' poll in the American for 2015-16.
The poll brings few, if any surprises. Other than the ordering of UConn and SMU, the poll relatively reflects the projected order voted on by the staff of The UConn Blog in our preseason preview.
Many of our writers put UConn over SMU because of the postseason ban, but the Mustangs are still one of the best teams in the country. The Huskies will have to step up against the reigning American regular season and tournament champions.
Kevin Ollie's team received several individual honors Tuesday, as well.
Freshman Jalen Adams was named the preseason Rookie of the Year in the conference. The five-star guard out of Roxbury, Massachusetts is expected to be an impact player for the Huskies – and not just because he is following in the footsteps of another Roxbury native, Shabazz Napier.
Being a Roxbury native, Monday night had to be pretty cool for Adams.
#UConn players had dinner here with Shabazz Napier last night.— Dom Amore (@AmoreCourant) October 27, 2015
Adams' selection as the Rookie of the Year will strike some as a surprise. Even our staff selected Memphis freshman Dedric Lawson, who will slot into the Tigers' lineup right away with the departure of Austin Nichols.
But Adams is a special player, one some think could steal a spot in the starting lineup this season. His teammates are already impressed.
Daniel Hamilton on Jalen Adams: "He’s been looking real good, solid. He’s definitely not playing like a freshman." #uconn— David Borges (@DaveBorges) October 27, 2015
Hamilton will be one of the outside contenders for the player of the year. The sophomore was selected to the all-conference first team, though he was not unanimous. SMU's Nic Moore—the preseason Player of the Year—and Markus Kennedy were unanimous selections, joined by Hamilton, Cincinnati's Octavius Ellis and Tulsa's James Woodard.
UConn's Sterling Gibbs and Amida Brimah were named to the second team, along with Cincinnati's Troy Caupain, Memphis' Shaq Goodwin and Tulsa's Shaquille Harrison.
Here's what Daniel Hamilton said about UConn putting three players on All-AAC teams: "It shows you how good we can be this year."— Gavin Keefe (@GavinKeefe) October 27, 2015
One of the exciting things about this season is the return of Mick Cronin to the Cincinnati sideline. The Bearcats' head coach missed most of last season after a health scare. He has been cleared to resume full coaching duties, and his team is expected to have another big season.
Games between UConn and Cincinnati are among the best in the conference. Cronin is excited to get back to what he calls "our typical showdowns with UConn."
Cronin said he also is looking forward to seeing all the love that the #UConn student section shows him.— Gavin Keefe (@GavinKeefe) October 27, 2015