LOGAN, Utah – Utah State women’s basketball was selected second in the Western Athletic Conference coaches’ poll and third in the media poll as it was announced Tuesday by the league. Both predictions are the highest for USU since joining the WAC. Last season, the Aggies were picked seventh in both the coaches’ and the media poll.Senior forward Ashlee Brown made Utah State women’s basketball history by becoming the first Aggie to earn WAC Preseason Player of the Year honors when she was awarded the honor by both the coaches and the media. Brown, who averaged 15.2 points per game last season, is the top scorer returning in the WAC. Last season, Brown was the WAC’s Newcomer of the Year and earned first-team all-WAC honors.”It is exciting, not even for myself, but for the program and the team. I am always happy to represent my team. Even if it just my name on there it represents Utah State, and that is all I see. I want to just improve and apply everything that I have learned in the preseason, and show my leadership the best way that I can. I just have fun playing with my team like I always do. I am just excited to be a part of it,” Brown said.The Aggies received 40 points in the WAC coaches’ poll, including two of the eight first-place votes. Defending WAC regular season-champion, Louisiana Tech, was picked first with 47 points, including five-first place votes. Fresno State, the 2011 WAC Tournament champions, was picked third with 36 points and the final first-place vote. Nevada placed fourth with 33 points, followed by Hawai‘i with 22 points. New Mexico State was picked to finish in sixth place with 18 points, while Idaho was just a point behind with 17 points to finish in seventh place. The coaches’ poll was rounded out by San Jose State in eighth place with 11 points.”On paper we have got as good as a chance as we have ever had,” head coach Raegan Pebley said. “Fresno State and Louisiana Tech always have rising stars in the waiting. They graduated a lot from last year, but LA Tech in particular has so much returning as well. Those kids are ready to take on the Adrienne Johnson roles.”In the media poll, Utah State was voted third with 126 points, including three first-place votes. As with the coaches’ poll, Louisiana Tech was picked first with 144 total points and 13 first-place votes. The only difference between the polls was that Fresno State took second-place in the media poll with 129 points and three first-place votes. Nevada earned the fourth spot with 80 points, followed by Hawai‘i with 72. The media poll was rounded out with New Mexico State in sixth with 59 points, while Idaho (52 points) and San Jose State (22 points) were picked to finish seventh and eighth, respectively.Brown was also named to the first-team preseason all-WAC list by both the coaches and the media. She is the first Aggie to ever earn first-team preseason all-WAC honors. Junior guard Devyn Christensen was named to the second team by the coaches. Six USU players have now earned preseason conference honors since joining the WAC prior to the 2005-06 season. Last season, Amber White earned second-team honors. Lydia Whitehead was also named to the second team in 2009, while current Aggie assistant coach Danyelle Snelgro earned second-team honors in 2008. Taylor Richards was named to the preseason second team in 2007.”It is pretty special. I am happy that Ashlee gets this respect from her competitors,” Pebley said. “I am glad that she is part of our program, not just for the points and rebounds, but a great leader. She is really fun to coach and has a great personality as well.”Last season, Christensen, who started the final 14 matches, was second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.1 ppg. She was also third on the team with 51 steals.”There were so many seniors last season. We graduated a lot of the first and second team all-conference,” Pebley said. “That helps us as a league as we competed in non-conference. It made the league so competitive. It made it hard for me to cast my vote because there were so many unknowns. There is also a lot of great youth in the league with great talent.”Aside from Brown, Louisiana Tech’s Jasmine Bendolph and Whitney Jones were both named to the first team by the coaches along with Rosie Moult from Fresno State and Kayla Wiliams from Nevada.The media also selected a preseason all-conference team-first which included Brown, Bendolph and Moult. New Mexico State’s Tabytha Wampler and Hawai‘i’s Kamilah Jackson were both honored by the media.Utah State returns 10 players from the 2010-11 roster, including three starters in Brown (15.2 ppg), center Banna Diop (9.5 ppg) and guard Jenna Johnson (6.6 ppg). USU brings back 75 percent of its offense, including its top three scorers in Brown, Diop and Christensen. The Aggies also welcome back the block leader in Diop (1.88 bpg). Brown will also be back in the blue and white as Utah State’s leading rebounder, bringing down 251 rebounds in 2010-11 (8.4 rpg). USU began practice on Sunday, Oct. 2. The Aggies’ first exhibition is Friday, Nov. 4 against Western New Mexico at 7 p.m. Fans can follow USU women’s basketball at http://twitter.com/UTAHSTATEofmind and Utah State athletics at http://twitter.com/USUAthletics. Tickets are available through USU’s website at www.UtahStateAggies.com or by calling the ticket office toll free at 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.2011-12 Preseason Women’s Basketball Coaches PollRank Teams (1st Place Votes) Points 1. Louisiana Tech (5) 47 2. Utah State (2) 40 3. Fresno State 36 4. Nevada 33 5. Hawai‘i 22 6. New Mexico State 18 7. Idaho 17 8. San Jose State 11 Preseason All-WAC TeamsFirst TeamJasmine Bendolph, Louisiana TechAshlee Brown, Utah StateWhitney Jones, Louisiana TechRosie Moult, Fresno StateKayla Williams, NevadaSecond TeamDevyn Christensen, Utah StateKamilah Jackson, Hawai‘iShawna-Lei Kuehu, Hawai‘iTaylor Thompson, Fresno StateTabytha Wampler, New Mexico StatePreseason Player of the Year: Ashlee Brown, Utah State2011-12 Preseason Women’s Basketball Media PollRank Teams (1st Place Votes) Points 1. Louisiana Tech (13) 144 2. Fresno State (3) 129 3. Utah State (3) 126 4. Nevada 80 5. Hawai‘i 72 6. New Mexico State 59 7. Idaho 52 8. San Jose State 22 Media’s First Team Jasmine Bendolph, Louisiana Tech Ashlee Brown, Utah StateKamilah Jackson, Hawai‘i Rosie Moult, Fresno State Tabytha Wampler, New Mexico State Media’s Second TeamShantale Bramble-Donaldson, Louisiana TechAmanda Johnson, NevadaWhitney Jones, Louisiana TechTaylor Thompson, Fresno StateKayla Williams, NevadaPreseason Player of the Year: Ashlee Brown, Utah State -USU-
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