(Editor’s note: Big Sky Conference media release)
OGDEN, Utah – After leading Montana State to an 11-7 Big Sky Conference record during the 2016-17 season while averaging 23.1 points per game, junior Tyler Hall was voted Preseason MVP by the Big Sky head coaches.
Hall has been a focal point for the Bobcats ever since he came on earning Freshman of the Year during the 2015-16 season. Hall continued his strong play last season and was one of three players to be voted unanimous first-team all-Big Sky. In addition to averaging 23 points, the guard pulled down more than five rebounds per game and shot 42.9 percent from 3-point range.
The 2017-18 preseason all-conference team was made up of four guards and a guard/forward. Victor Sanders and Bogdan Bliznyuk were voted unanimously for the preseason honor in addition to Hall. Ahmaad Rorie, Geno Crandall and Jordan Davis make up the rest of the team.
Idaho’s Sanders was also a unanimous first-team all-Big Sky selection a year ago. As a junior, he led Idaho to a 12-6 league record while averaging a blistering 24.4 points in-conference. Sanders exploded onto the scene after his freshman year going from averaging 3.8 points per game to nearly 16 points as a sophomore. The senior will be leading an Idaho team that returns all five starters from a year ago.
Bliznyuk was a force for Eastern Washington last season averaging 20.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game earning second-team all-BSC. Bliznyuk will have an even larger role this season after losing 2016-17 Big Sky MVP Jacob Wiley to graduation. Since joining the Eagles, Bliznyuk has developed from an important role player as a freshman to now leading the team as a senior.
Rorie had a strong season in his first year at Montana. The Oregon transfer led the team in points (17.6 average) and assists (3.1 average) and earned second-team all-Big Sky. Rorie led Montana to an 11-7 Big Sky record earning the No. 5 seed in the tournament.
Crandall was an integral part of the 2016-17 North Dakota team that earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. During his sophomore season Crandall combined with Quinton Hooker to form one of the top backcourts in the Big Sky. Crandall averaged 15.5 points and led North Dakota with 136 assists for a 4.4 assist average. With Hooker graduated, Crandall will take on a bigger workload as the Fighting Hawks prepare to defend their Big Sky title.
Northern Colorado’s Davis rounds out the preseason all-conference team after leading the Big Sky in assists last season averaging 5.6 assists per game. Davis led the Bears in points scoring over 19 points a game. Davis, a starter since joining the team as a freshman in 2015, will look to lead Northern Colorado back to the postseason.
The Coaches’ Poll and the Media Poll will be released Friday, Oct. 13 at noon MT. The regular season starts on Nov. 10 with the Big Sky Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament set to take place in Reno, Nev. from March 5-10, 2018.
2017-18 Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Team
MVP – Tyler Hall, Jr., G, Montana State, Rock Island, Ill.
Victor Sanders, Sr., G, Idaho, Portland, Ore.
Bogdan Bliznyuk, Sr., G/F, Eastern Washington, Lutsk, Ukraine
Ahmaad Rorie, Jr., G, Montana, Tacoma, Wash.
Geno Crandall, Jr., G, North Dakota, Minneapolis, Minn.
Jordan Davis, Jr., G, Northern Colorado, Las Vegas, Nev.