The TexAnn Basketball team was picked to finish third in the annual Lone Star Conference preseason poll that was released by the league as part of Online Media Day.
After winning the 2017 LSC Tournament Championship on a thrilling 80-78 come-from-behind victory over Angelo State, the TexAnns received 270 votes in the poll - including three first-place votes. The TexAnns were 10 votes behind Eastern New Mexico's 280 votes for second place. West Texas A&M is the preseason favorite with 301 votes.
The LSC preseason poll is voted on by LSC head coaches, sports information directors and media representatives throughout the league.
"It's right around where I expected us to be, so it wasn't much of a shock to be third," said head coach Misty Wilson. "We don't put a lot of emphasis on preseason polls and I don't think any coach in America does because they're based on last year and no one has seen your new players or knows what they can do."
Mackenzie Hailey was tabbed the LSC Preseason Player of the Year after averaging 16.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last season. The sophomore won LSC Newcomer of the Year honors and the LSC Tournament MVP award in her first season with the TexAnns. Hailey is the first TexAnn to be named LSC Preseason Player of the Year since Kiara Wright in 2014.
"It's a great honor to be nominated by the coaches and staff, but it was based off my play from last year and it is preseason," said Hailey. "I'm going to build off last season and try to be the best player I can to help my team out."
The TexAnns return eight players from last season's squad that went 16-14 and 12-8 in the LSC. The roster features three returning starters in Hailey, Tiara Tatum (8.3 points) and Kylie Collins (3.9 points). Tatum and Baylee Peck (2.3 points) are the only seniors on the roster. Coach Wilson and her staff filled out the roster by adding seven players, including two Division I transfers.
"The two transfers, Katie Webster and McKinley Bostad, they've come in and really made a big impact on our team after losing the seniors that we did," said Wilson. "They've been able to step in and give us the experience and leadership we need."
Tarleton opens the season with an exhibition game against Baylor on Tuesday, Oct. 31, in Waco.
The regular season opener will take place on Nov. 10 against Western State for the annual TexAnn Tip-Off Classic in Wisdom Gym.
"I think we have to understand that we have a target on our back after winning the tournament," Wilson added. "Teams are going to want to bring their best game against us and we have to be able to weather those storms and do a good job of executing and playing within our system. If we do that, I think we have the players in place to be successful."