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Weber State men’s basketball near-unanimous No. 1 in Big Sky preseason polls; women last

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Oct 18, 2023

Freddie Lacey, for Weber State Athletics

Weber State guard Steven Verplancken Jr. (11) dribbles against Sacramento State's Austin Patterson (20) as Alex Tew (20) tries to set a screen on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

Weber State men’s basketball was put where most expected it to be Wednesday when the Big Sky Conference released its preseason polls for the 2023-24 season.

For the first time in seven years, Weber State will begin the season as the hunted.

In nearly unanimous fashion, the Wildcat men were voted No. 1 in both the coaches and media polls.

Coaches unanimously put Weber State first. The Wildcats garnered nine of 10 first-place votes; coaches do not cast votes or their own team, so it appears Eric Duft gave his first-place vote to Montana. In the media poll. WSU was given 33 of 35 first-place votes, with the others going to Eastern Washington.

The Weber State men have been voted first or second in 13 of the last 15 preseason polls, but this is the most recent placement of first since the 2016-17 preseason.

“I’ve never put a lot of emphasis on preseason polls but I would rather people think good things about your program than bad things,” Duft said in a statement from the school. “It’s a testament to the returners that we have coming back and now it’s on us to go out and play and improve on where we have been. We will have to be better than we were last year to win but we are excited for where we are and where we are going.”

Weber State returns all five of last season’s starting lineup, headlined by likely preseason MVP Dillon Jones (preseason team/MVP votes will be released Thursday), along with senior guards KJ Cunningham and Steven Verplancken Jr., and juniors Dyson Koehler and Alex Tew. No other Big Sky team returns more than two starters.

WSU also added junior scoring guard Blaise Threatt from Division II Colorado Mesa (19 points per game, 45% 3-point shooting), a group of international freshmen who could contribute, and redshirt freshman Chris Dockery.

The Wildcats went 12-6 in the Big Sky last season, Duft’s first as head coach.

Their season begins Nov. 2 with a home exhibition against Adams State, free to the public, and a Nov. 7 regular-season opener against Benedictine Mesa in Ogden, before hitting the road to play No. 23 Saint Mary’s on Nov. 12.

Weber State’s women’s basketball team has the opposite expectations after going 6-25 last season and the departure of four-year head coach Velaida Harris.

Jenteal Jackson’s crew was voted last in both preseason polls ahead of the 2023-24 season.

The WSU women will have six fifth-year seniors — returners Daryn Hickok, Jadyn Matthews, Vicky Parra and Laura Taylor, along with transfers in forward Sierra Davis and guard Rita Satini.

Jackson also added junior scoring guard Kendra Parra, who led Division II league RMAC in scoring at 18.3 points per game for Metro State Denver, and junior college players Kennedy Eskelson and Ashton Adamson.

Weber State’s women’s team hosts Fort Lewis for an exhibition at 3 p.m. Oct. 31 before opening a road-heavy nonconference schedule with Utah Valley, BYU, Boise State, Utah State and Oregon State on the road before hosting Nevada on Dec. 6.

Below are the full polls, with first-place votes in parentheses followed by total poll points.



1. Weber State (9) 81

2. Montana (1) 70

3. Eastern Washington 68

4. Sacramento State 50

5. Portland State 48

6. Idaho State 39

7. Montana State 35

T8. Northern Arizona 22

T8. Northern Colorado 22

10. Idaho 15


1. Weber State (33) 347

2. Eastern Washington (2) 301

3. Montana 279

4. Montana State 197

5. Sacramento State 196

6. Portland State 166

7. Idaho State 155

8. Northern Arizona 135

9. Northern Colorado 90

10. Idaho 59



1. Eastern Washington (6) 74

2. Northern Arizona (3) 73

3. Montana (1) 69

4. Montana State 59

5. Portland State 45

6. Northern Colorado 36

7. Idaho State 32

8. Idaho 25

9. Sacramento State 24

10. Weber State 13


1. Northern Arizona (12) 259

2. Eastern Washington (12) 255

3. Montana (2) 217

4. Montana State (3) 209

5. Portland State 169

6. Sacramento State (2) 149

7. Idaho 104

8. Idaho State 99

9. Northern Colorado 92

10. Weber State 42


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