STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton men’s basketball was tabbed as the No. 1 team in the nation for 2015-16, according to the Sporting News preseason Top 10 poll.
“It’s an honor to be named No. 1,” said Tarleton men’s basketball coach Lonn Reisman. “I’m honored that people around the country, from coast to coast, recognize that Tarleton State University’s men’s basketball program has the winning tradition where we are recognized as the one of the top programs in the country.
“You have teams like Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky as powerhouses for Division I,” Reisman added. “When you think of Division II, you think of Tarleton State University as one of the great teams in the country.”
The Texans return nine members-including three starters-from the 2014-15 team that set a school record with 31 wins and reached the NCAA Division II Final Four for the second time in school history.
Headlining the returning Texans are Michael Hardge (10.7 points, 3.5 assists), Malcolm Hamilton (8.9 points, 3.8 rebounds), EJ Reed (8.7 points, 3.5 rebounds) and Nosa Ebomwonyi (5.5 points, 2.8 rebounds).
Reisman and his staff added six transfers and five freshmen to their already experienced roster. Of the transfers, two come to Tarleton from Division I programs in Charles Hill (TCU) and Xavier Smith (St. Bonaventure).
“It’s exciting anytime your program can bring a preseason accolade of this magnitude to our university,” said associate head coach Chris Reisman. “This is great exposure and visibility for Tarleton and Stephenville. We hope our fans will be excited as we approach a new season of Texan Basketball.”
Tarleton was ranked as the preseason No. 1 one other time in program history, occurring in 2005-06 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The Texans went 27-7 that season en route to the NCAA Elite Eight.
“Just as in year’s past, preseason rankings are a great tool for the marketing and recruiting of one’s program, but that is about it,” said Chris Reisman. “Every single school in the country now has an even bigger reason to want to challenge us and this puts an incredibly large target on our back. Our players will have to approach the season with an even greater focus and desire than before.”
Tarleton opens the season with an exhibition game against The University of Texas in Austin on Nov. 6.
Sporting News Preseason Top 10
1. Tarleton State
2. Augustana (SD)
3. West Liberty
4. Lincoln Memorial
5. Missouri Southern
7. Midwestern State
8. St. Cloud State
10. California Baptist