Times Sports Editor
As winter sports get underway there are a number of former Clay County high school athletes who are preparing to begin their collegiate basketball seasons.
The Summit League has announced that the IUPUI women's basketball team was selected to finish sixth in the upcoming 2009-10 season in voting of the league's media, coaches and sports information directors. For the second straight season, senior Julia Whitted was selected to the Preseason First Team.
IUPUI, which finished fourth in The Summit League a year ago, returns two starters from the 2008-09 squad, including Whitted, who averaged 13.2 points per game to go along with 8.4 rebounds. In conference play, the 6-foot-5 center upped her play, posting 14.2 points and 9.3 boards in 18 games.
The senior became the 19th IUPUI women's basketball player to go over the 1,000-point plateau in her final game of the 2008-09 season and has 1,004 points in her career. Overall, the first team selection was the fourth straight for Whitted, who earned the honors at the end of her sophomore year and was on both preseason and postseason first teams last year.
The Jaguars open the season at Conseco Fieldhouse when they take on Kentucky State Monday evening at 5 p.m.
Closer to home, the Indiana State basketball team has been picked to finish seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll as announced today by the league office. Additionally, senior Harry Marshall and junior transfer Jake Kelly were named Preseason All-MVC Honorable Mention selections in the annual vote of conference head coaches, media and sports information directors.
The Sycamores' seventh place predicted finish is its highest since the 2001-02 campaign when Indiana State was picked to finish third. Last season, ISU won six of its final seven regular season contests to finish with an 11-21 record, including winning three MVC road contests in the span of ten days. Indiana State captured the league's No. 8 seed at the State Farm MVC Tournament and downed Drake in the opening round before being nipped in the waning moments against eventual league champion Northern Iowa, 71-67, in the tournament quarterfinals.
UNI is picked to repeat as the league's champion with 38 first place votes (389 points) and are followed by the only other team to garner a first place tally, Creighton (336). Picked to finish third is Illinois State (299), followed by Southern Illinois (272), Wichita State (216), Bradley (208), Indiana State (173), Drake (105), Missouri State (92) and Evansville (55).
Marshall was an All-MVC Honorable Mention selection at the end of last season after leading the team with a 13.6 ppg average. Kelly will make his Sycamore debut this season after earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention status last year before transferring from Iowa.
The Sycamores have a distinctly local feel too as Rockville graduate R.J. Mahurin is a freshman along with Marshall, IL graduates, Logan and Lucas Eitel and Terre Haute South grad, Jake Odum.
The Olney Central Blue Knights will have a pair of Clay County athletes on the roster this winter as Northview graduate Austin Akers begins his freshman year at the Illinois junior college. Clay City graduate Will Kennedy is also at the school, which begins play next week in a Monday contest against New Creations Prep at 7:30 p.m.
Akers got some playing time with his future teammates over the summer in the Team Indiana vs. Team Illinois contest in June. Akers hit a trio of 3-pointers in the game to go with three rebounds and a steal.
In the girls game that evening, Northview graduate Kirstin Kimball had seven points and five rebounds for her team. She'll be on Danville Community College's roster this season after a breakthrough senior year for the Knights.
Kimball and the Danville Warriors will be in the area on Friday night when they visit Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and Northview graduate Lexee Hayes at 7 p.m. in a scrimmage. Hayes is in her junior year with the Pomeroys.
In Indianapolis, Marian University is set to get its season underway on Nov. 8 when it travels to Big Ten foe, Iowa, for its season opener. Senior Heath Chamberlain returns for the Knights and is looking at getting back on track after missing the second half of the season last year.
Chamberlain started 10 of the 14 games in which he saw action and he averaged 16 minutes per game while scoring 7.8 ppg. and pulling down 3.3 rebounds per game and he hit 87 percent (20-of-23) free throws during the season and 61 percent of his shots from the field.
At Lincoln Christian College, former Northview Knigh, Josiah Brock, begins his junior year. The Preachers' season begins on Nov. 16 in Carlinville, IL against Blackburn College.