The headline story of the day in UNT basketball is that Tony Mitchell was selected the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Player of the Year and that UNT was a unanimous pick to win the league’s West Division.
No surprise there.
Mitchell is a fantastic player headed to the NBA and UNT has a ton of talent around him.
I didn’t see any way he wasn’t going to be the Preseason Player of the Year or any way UNT wasn’t going to be the pick to win the division.
What is a far more interesting question is whether or not the rest of UNT’s players were overlooked.
Alzee Williams had a great year, averaged 10.5 points a game and was even better in Sun Belt Conference play. He averaged 15.8 points per game over the last 10 games of the season and was great in the Sun Belt tournament.
Jacob Holmen was also really good at the end of the year.
I can just about guarantee that Chris Jones and probably Jordan Williams would have made the team had they played the entire season.
The point being, the Sun Belt’s coaches waxed poetic on all the talent UNT has this year during Sun Belt Phone Call Days this morning, but the Mean Green only had one player on the preseason all-conference team , and that was Mitchell.
Tony Benford mentioned that he thought it was hard to reconcile what was said and the way the team turned out. Mitchell said that UNT will be out to prove that it has more talented players than it was given credit for today.
That’s good news for UNT.
And it wasn’t just the way the men’s team turned out, either. The UNT women didn’t have a single player selected among 15 on that set of three preseason All-Sun Belt teams.
One could make case for Jasmine Godbolt, despite some injury issues.
I completely understand the reasoning behind the way the teams turned out. UNT got the big honor with Mitchell on the men’s side. Jones and Jordan Williams were left off because they didn’t play last year, Alzee Williams didn’t make it due to overall stats and Holmen wasn’t consistent enough.
That doesn’t change the perception in the Super Pit that UNT got the short end of the stick heading into its last season in the league.
I was chatting with a UNT athletic department guy today, tossing around the question of whether or not UNT has ever headed into a season with just one preseason all-league player from its men’s and women’s basketball teams combined. UNT has been really bad at times in both programs, so it likely has happened before, but it would take some digging to find out when that might have been, if it ever did happen.
In the end, it might not be a bad turn of events for UNT. Mike Petersen said yesterday that preseason awards are meaningless. He’s right.
A team can never have too much motivation, though.
UNT might have just gotten a little more.