Siena basketball, Pickett tabbed MAAC preseason favorites

Sports

LOUDONVILLE, NY – It’s unanimous. Defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Champion Siena Basketball, and reigning MAAC Player of the Year Jalen Pickett, have been predicted to repeat their accolades according to all of the conference’s 11 head coaches. Additionally, Pickett was joined on the conference’s top squad by fellow unanimous Preseason First Team All-MAAC selection Manny Camper.

Siena is the MAAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll favorite for the first time in 11 years, after receiving all 11 first-place votes and the maximum 121 points in the polling. The Saints, who won their third straight MAAC Championship the last time that they were selected as the preseason favorite in 2009-10, are the league’s unanimous favorite for the first time since entering the 2008-09 season.

Siena is looking to build upon a breakout 2019-20 campaign in which the Saints captured the program’s first MAAC Championship in a decade under the direction of first-year head coach Carmen Maciariello. Siena posted a 20-10 overall record including a 15-5 ledger in the MAAC, as the Saints won their eighth MAAC Regular Season Championship and were later awarded the program’s sixth MAAC Tournament Title. Siena, which is set to enter this season riding the nation’s seventh longest active winning streak at 10 straight, welcomes back three starters highlighted by the return of Pickett and Camper, while adding 10 newcomers featuring five transfers and four true freshmen.

Siena was followed in the MAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll by second place Iona, who received 103 points. Monmouth and Saint Peter’s tied for third with 89 points, while Manhattan rounded out the top-five with 77 points. Niagara (63), Quinnipiac (54), Fairfield (39), Marist (36), Canisius (31), and Rider (24) concluded the 11-team polling.

The reigning MAAC Player of the Year, Pickett becomes the first player to be named the unanimous MAAC Preseason Player of the Year since Justin Robinson of Monmouth in 2016-17. Additionally, Pickett and Camper are the first Siena teammates to be named Preseason First Team All-MAAC selections since Brett Bisping and Javion Ogunyemi in 2016-17.

Named the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year for the second straight season, Pickett is looking to build off a sensational sophomore season in which he was also heralded as a Lou Henson All-American, NABC District 1 First Team honoree, and a USBWA All-District II, ECAC First Team, and unanimous First Team All-MAAC selection. A three-time MAAC Player of the Week last season, Pickett ranked seventh nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.30), and stood 20th in the country in assists (6.0). The junior standout from Rochester, New York also ranked third in the MAAC in minutes (36.9 – 21st nationally), fourth in scoring (15.1), sixth in blocks (1.1), and seventh in threes (2.0). Pickett posted four double-doubles, and scored in double figures 25 times.

Camper returns to Siena for his senior season after testing the NBA Draft waters this summer. A 2019-20 First Team All-MAAC selection, the Chestertown, Maryland product was one of just 29 Division I players nationally to average a double-double last season, with 13.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Camper ranked 16th nationally in defensive rebounding (7.53), 22nd in rebounding, 26th in double-doubles (14), and 47th in minutes (36.1). He also stood 10th in the MAAC in field goal percentage (.480), and scored in double figures 25 times including four 20-point performances.

Pickett and Camper were joined on the Preseason All-MAAC First Team by fellow unanimous selections Deion Hammond of Monmouth and Marcus Hammond of Niagara, as well as KC Ndefo from Saint Peter’s. 

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