Courtesy of NKUNorse.com
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Coaches, media members and sports information directors throughout the Horizon League selected the Northern Kentucky men’s basketball team to finish seventh in the upcoming 2016-17 campaign.
“The Horizon League is perennially one of the toughest mid-major conferences in the nation, and this year will be no different,” said John Brannen, head coach. “Our student-athletes have been working hard and sacrificing this offseason to get better and continue our rise within the League. We look forward to showcasing this year’s team in just a few weeks.”
NKU received 153 points, placing it ahead of Cleveland State, Youngstown State and Milwaukee. Valparaiso received 385 points and was picked to win the League. Oakland was tabbed second while Green Bay, UIC and Wright State round out the top-five. Detroit was one spot ahead of the Norse.
The Northern Kentucky men’s basketball team is on the rise. Last year’s Norse defied the preseason prognostications by finishing two spots higher (8th) than they were selected (10th). NKU’s 17-point win at Oakland, which featured NBA draft pick Kay Felder, proved to be Northern Kentucky’s highest RPI-win (105) in the DI era.
Now, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding the Norse this season, from a trio of returning players that made major impacts last season to a recruiting class that was called “one of the best mid-major classes in the country for the class of 2016″ by Next Up Recruits.
Senior Cole Murray was one of the nation’s top three-point threats, converting 45.3 percent of his 3-point shots to rank ninth in the nation. Junior Lavone Holland was a do-it-all guard who averaged 10.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, and sophomore Drew McDonald was a Horizon League all-freshman team honoree after posting six double-doubles last year to average 10.5 points and team-best 6.2 rebounds an outing.
NKU’s recruiting class features players that have won throughout their high school careers and racked up the individual accolades along the way. Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball Carson Williams and Ohio’s D-III Player of the Year and two-time state champion Dantez Walton highlight the group, but Mason Faulkner, Tre Cobbs, Blake Spellman, Brandon Maxwell and Jalen Tate are also proven winners at the high school level.