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USF Earns Top Spot; Houston 7th in American Women's Basketball Preseason Poll

POSTED: October 28, 2020 -- 9:39 a.m. CT

In the first preseason poll of the "Life After UConn Era", USF was tabbed as the preseason favorite in American Athletic Conference women's basketball for the first time, taking home the top spot in the 2020-21 preseason coaches' poll as voted on by The American's 11 head coaches.

The Bulls earned eight first-place votes and a total of 98 voting points to pace the preseason predicted order of finish. UCF secured a first-place vote of its own (79 points) to edge out Tulane (78 points) for second place in the preseason poll. Last season's conference tournament runner-up Cincinnati claimed the final two first-place votes and 73 points for fourth place, with Temple rounding out the top five with 57 points.

Wichita State checked in sixth in the preseason rankings with 54 points, followed by Houston (49), Memphis (40), East Carolina (36), SMU (30) and Tulsa (10).

Cincinnati senior forward IImar'I Thomas and Temple senior forward Mia Davis were selected as American Preseason Players of the Year following standout junior campaigns in 2019-20. Thomas, a 2020 WBCA Honorable Mention All-America choice, averaged 18.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in 32 starts last season and led all American players with a .597 field goal percentage (236-of-395). Davis is the leading returning scorer and rebounder in the conference after tallying 18.8 points and 10.1 boards per game across 30 starts, earning 2020 USBWA Honorable Mention All-America honors.

Joining Thomas and Davis as a unanimous selection on the all-conference first team was Tulane senior forward Krystal Freeman, who ranked eighth in points per game (15.0) and ninth in rebounds per game (7.7) in The American last season. Other first-team selections were UCF junior forward Brittney Smith (10.5 points, 5.3 rebounds per game in 2019-20) and East Carolina senior guard Lashonda Monk (14.9 points, conference record 4.2 steals per game in 2019-20).

Players named to the all-conference second team were Memphis senior forward Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu (12.2 points, 8.6 rebounds per game in 2019-20), USF junior guard Elisa Pinzan (9.0 points, 4.5 assists per game in 2019-20), USF sophomore guard Elena Tsineke (12.4 points in 2019-20), Tulane senior guard Arsula Clark (12.7 points per game in 2019-20) and Wichita State senior guard Mariah McCully (12.6 points, 2.2 steals per game in 2019-20).

All 11 teams are scheduled to vie for the 2021 American Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Championship at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The tournament is tentatively scheduled for March 8-11.


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2020-21 American Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll and Honors

Rank
School (First-place in parentheses)
Points
1
USF (8)
98
2
UCF (1)
79
3
Tulane
78
4
Cincinnati (2)
73
5
Temple
57
6
Wichita State
54
7
Houston
49
8
Memphis
40
9
East Carolina
36
10
SMU
31
11
Tulsa
10

Preseason Players of the Year - IImar’I Thomas, F, Cincinnati and Mia Davis, F, Temple

Preseason All-Conference First Team

Brittney Smith, F, UCF

IImar'I Thomas, F, Cincinnati*

Lashonda Monk, G, East Carolina

Mia Davis, F, Temple*

Krystal Freeman, F, Tulane*

* unanimous selection

Preseason All-Conference Second Team

Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, F, Memphis

Elisa Pinzan, G, USF

Elena Tsineke, G, USF

Arsula Clark, G, Tulane

Mariah McCully, G, Wichita State

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