MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande was picked third overall and second in the East Division according to the 2021-22 River States Conference Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Poll, which was released Wednesday as part of the league’s Media Day activities.
The RedStorm received one first-place vote and 155 points in the overall balloting of the league’s 14 head coaches. In the East Division voting, second year head coach Ryan Arrowood’s club picked up two first-place nods and 75 points.
Rio Grande also had a pair of preseason all-conference selections in junior forward Shiloah Blevins (South Webster, OH), last year’s RSC Player of the Year, and sophomore guard Miki Tadic (Hilversum, The Netherlands), who was named the conference Newcomer of the Year for 2020-21.
Blevins averaged 17.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, while earning Honorable Mention All-American kudos. Tadic averaged 17.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and connected on a team-best 66 three-point goals before missing the final five games of the season as a result of a shoulder injury.
Rio is coming off a 16-10 finish and its first national tournament appearance in 18 years. The RedStorm fell to Indiana University South Bend in the tourney’s opening round.
Defending conference champion WVU Tech, which toppled Rio Grande in the conference tournament title game, is the preseason favorite. The Golden Bears received nine of a possible 13 first-place votes and 173 total points.
WVU Tech, which made it to the second round of the NAIA National Championship, has preseason all-conference picks Tamon Scruggs (F) and Andreas Jonsson (G) — as well as several other key players — coming back.
The Golden Bears also led the East Division voting with nine first-place selections and 86 points.
Indiana University Kokomo was picked second overall and first in the West Division of the poll. The Cougars, who received two first-place votes and 158 total points, return a pair of preseason selections with Trequan Spivey (G) and Desean Hampton (F).
IUK had 12 of a possible 13 first-place votes to win their side of the conference.
Behind Rio Grande in fourth place was Indiana University East, which received the remaining two first-place votes and 151 points in the polling. The Red Wolves were one point behind Rio Grande in the East Division balloting.
Alice Lloyd College rounded out the top five overall with 130 points, while spots 6-10 were filled by Indiana University Southeast (129 pts.), Point Park (111 pts.), Midway (97 pts.), Oakland City (90 pts.) and Ohio Christian (70 pts.), respectively.
The final four positions were taken by, in order, Ohio Valley University (67 pts.), Brescia (59 pts.), Carlow (35 pts.) and St. Mary-of-the-Woods (33 pts.).
Point Park (57 pts.), Ohio Christian (37 pts.), Ohio Valley (35 pts.) and Carlow (19 pts.) completed the East Division list, with Alice Lloyd (73 pts.), IU Southeast (70 pts.), Midway (52 pts.), Oakland City (49 pts.), Brescia (32 pts.) and St. Mary-of-the-Woods (19 pts.) rounding out the West Division. Alice Lloyd and IU Southeast received one first-place vote each.
Completing the 10-player preseason All-RSC team were Donnie Miller (G) and Kwon Evans (F) from Midway, Alice Lloyd’s Noah Young (G) and Nathan Schmittler (C) of Oakland City.
The River States Conference has 14 member schools over five different states — Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. St. Mary-of-the-Woods (Ind.) and Ohio Valley (W.Va.) are new members of the conference.
Randy Payton can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.