FRISCO, Texas – Prior to the start of the 2018-19 season, the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team was picked to finish sixth overall in the Southland Conference, announced by the league Wednesday.

Stephen F. Austin received 23 first-place votes and was selected as the league favorite with 287 points. Southeastern Louisiana was second with two first-place votes and 243 points while New Orleans ranked third overall (204).

The Wildcats of Abilene Christian followed up in fourth with 196 points and one first-place vote, followed by Lamar (186), Sam Houston (184), McNeese (172), Central Arkansas (136) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (115). Houston Baptist and Nicholls tied for 10th with 101 points apiece, Northwestern State (73) ranked 12th and Incarnate Word rounded out the league with 30 points.

“Being picked sixth is about where I thought we would be,” head coach Jason Hooten said. “Losing two of our top players from last season is a factor in the minds of everyone who votes, but our track record isn’t usually a sixth-place finish. We are focused on improving on a daily basis and we look forward to seeing where we’re at in March.”

Hooten returns seven Kats to the roster and welcomes seven talented newcomers. The additions of junior transfers RJ Smith, Chad Bowie and Kai Mitchell will provide sufficient depth and experience to the SHSU roster and true freshmen Zach Nutall, Cyrus Johnson and Xavier Bryant will seek to make their presence known on the court.

Earning preseason honors, senior guard Marcus Harris was named a member of the SLC Preseason All-Conference second team on Tuesday, Oct. 9. Harris, who took a redshirt during the 2016-17 season due to NCAA transfer rules, had a fantastic opening season with the Bearkat squad after making the switch from San Diego. The lone returning starter, Harris made 30 starts in 34 appearances as a junior and averaged 9.4 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.

The Bearkats, who picked up their fourth 20-win season in the last five years, advanced to the semifinals of the CIT and finished the season with an impressive 21-15 overall record for the 2017-18 season.

Sam Houston kicks off the 2018-19 season against East Texas Baptist on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum. The Bearkats’ season slate features 14 home games and an appearance in the Cayman Island Classic. For all the latest information on the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team, visit gobearkats.com or follow @BearkatsMBB on Twitter.

2018-19 Southland Conference Preseason Poll

  1. 1.    Stephen F. Austin (23) – 287
  2. 2.    Southeastern Louisiana (2) – 243
  3. 3.    New Orleans – 204
  4. 4.    Abilene Christian (1) – 196
  5. 5.    Lamar – 186
  6. 6.    Sam Houston State – 184
  7. 7.    McNeese – 172
  8. 8.    Central Arkansas – 136
  9. 9.    Texas A&M-Corpus Christi – 115
  10. 10.  Houston Baptist – 101
  11. 10.  Nicholls – 101
  12. 11.  Northwestern State – 73
  13. 12.  Incarnate Word – 30