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3. Saint Mary
Coach: Troy Brown, fifth season, 103-49
2015-16: 17-13, 11-9 KCAC
Outlook: The Spires came close to the KCAC Tournament title game, falling in overtime to Southwestern in the semifinals. They return 6-2 senior guard Grant Greenberg, their leading scorer and a three-time All-KCAC first-team pick and three-time NAIA All-American (one on the first team). Greenberg averaged 25.6 points last season. Also back is senior point guard Xavier Young, the team leader in assists. Brown’s newcomers include 6-6 forward Andrew Berry and 6-3 guard Isaiah Codden, both junior-college transfers. Third place a year ago, Saint Mary is forecast for the same spot despite losses to graduation that included leading rebounder Marcus Mondaine, third-leading scorer Andre Clark and guard Jordan Thomas, its second-leading scorer and an All-KCAC honorable-mention selection.
4. Oklahoma Wesleyan
Coach: Matt O’Brien, eighth season, 128-85
2015-16: 26-8, 15-5 KCAC
Outlook: After the graduation of seniors Chris Waller and Cameron Clark, O’Brien must find a way to replace 43 points a game from last season. DJ Wallace is the Moundbuilders’ leading returning scorer at 8.3 points as well as a 4.3 rebound average, also tops among returning players. Cameron Hunt also returns for Southwestern after being selected to the KCAC’s All-Freshman team. He was the team leader in steals and was second to Waller in assists and averaged 6.9 points last season for a team that reached No. 22 in the NAIA Division II poll and advanced to the national tournament.
Coach: Dale Faber, 14th season, 221-180
2015-16: 12-18, 10-10 KCAC
Outlook: The Falcons saved their best for KCAC play, going 10-10 and advancing to the semifinals against undefeated Tabor, taking the Bluejays into overtime before falling, 88-79. Kapaun Mount Carmel product Toby Baxter is entering the final year of a stellar career. He needs 500 points to become Friends’ career scoring leader. The 6-2 guard averaged 16.4 points and was a second-team All-KCAC selection. Also returning is senior forward Kaleb Ratliff, who averaged 9 points and 4.8 rebounds. Much will be expected from three key reserves with local ties: senior guard-forward Kyler Steadman (Derby), sophomore forward Ealy Bell (Heights, Garden City CC) and senior forward Zach Osborn (Derby).
Coach: Aaron Siebenthall, second season, 14-15
2015-16: 14-15, 10-10 KCAC
Outlook: The Braves will try to go above the .500 mark in conference play behind 6-3 shooting guard Kameron Lindsay, a bona fide scorer who averaged 14.5 points. He also shot 40.3 percent from the field, 41.2 percent from three-point range and 81.8 percent at the free-throw line. Setting him up will be 5-8 junior guard Hollis Mitchell, who averaged 8.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists a year ago. Siebenthall hit the junior-college ranks hard to make up for the graduated Preston Oakes and Marshon Norfleet, both All-KCAC selections. Oakes was a second-team pick, and Norfleet made the third team.
Coach: Clair Oleen, 24th season, 506-471
2015-16: 12-18, 9-11 KCAC
Outlook: The Swedes return starters Tyler Larkin, a 6-foot sophomore guard, and 5-8 senior guard Joey Habtemariam. Larkin averaged 6.5 points and was selected to the conference’s All-Freshman team. He also led the team in steals and was second in assists and fourth in rebounds. Habtemariam averaged 9.1 points and is the Swedes’ leading returning scorer. Also returning are 6-5 senior guard Cody Harris and 6-5 senior forward Ian Merzwinski. Merzwinski is expected to shoulder some of the rebounding load up front.
Coach: Dean Jaderston, 10th season, 220-250
2015-16: 10-19, 8-12 KCAC
Outlook: Sterling returns five seniors, including 6-5 forward Maurice Williams, an All-KCAC honorable-mention pick last year. Williams averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds as a junior. Also returning are 6-7 senior forward Josiah Ray (6-7, 200), a Derby High product who also averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds as a junior. In the backcourt, Jaderston will have his son Jake, a 5-9 senior, and 6-1 Grant Speer, who averaged 6 points a year ago, and 6-1 sophomore Trey Dubbert. Also returning is senior Fayola Oyatayo, a 6-4 senior who averaged 5 points and 4 rebounds last year.
Coach: Tony Hoops, third season, 21-40
2015-16: 12-19, 9-11 KCAC
Outlook: The Threshers showed improvement in Hoops’ second season, winning 12 games, their most overall since 2005, and the nine KCAC victories are the most since 2004. That showing put Bethel in a tie for sixth. Four seniors return, including seniors Devin Goodwin and Austin Mitchell. Goodwin, a 6-3 guard from Chicago, averaged 11.7 points, 3.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals as a junior. Mitchell, a 6-2 guard from Plano, Texas, averaged 10.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 steals, giving the Threshers strength in the backcourt. Tanner Long, who lettered as a freshman but redshirted last season, provides depth at guard. Two other seniors, 6-5 center Jacob Miller and 6-3 guard-forward Chris Robinson, will provide experience.
11. Kansas Wesleyan
Coach: Anthony Monson, first season
2015-16: 7-22, 5-15 KCAC
Outlook: The Coyotes saw the success Tabor had in going undefeated through the KCAC last season, so they looked to the Bluejays for their next coach. Assistant coach Monson, 33, embarks on his first head-coaching job after nine years alongside Micah Ratzlaff on the Tabor bench. Monson also played two years for Tabor before becoming a coach. Three seniors will be keys for Monson in his first year, led by 6-1 Ryan Hill and 6-foot Dominique Johnson. Jacob Lunz (6-7) will anchor the frontcourt. Johnson averaged 17.7 points as a junior and was All-KCAC honorable mention, and Hill was close behind at 12.1. Lunz was the Coyotes’ leading rebounder at 5.6 to go with his 9.6-point scoring average. Hill and Johnson also averaged 4.3 and 3.5. Monson also tapped Cowley College for a couple of transfer guards in 5-9 Jamon Fulton and 6-1 Terell Gandy.
Coach: Tim Swartzendruber, eighth season, 198-152
2015-16: 9-21, 4-16 KCAC
Outlook: Even though the Bulldogs are picked to finish last, they have a preseason All-KCAC selection in 6-1 senior guard Chris Crook. Crook, an All-KCAC third-team pick as a junior, anchors a McPherson team after averaging 19 points. He shot 84.1 percent from the free-throw line and was the Bulldogs’ fourth-leading rebounder. Junior guard Aaron Bachura (7.9 points) also returns, as does leading rebounder Reed Rowell, a 6-8, 240-pound senior who averaged 5.4 points and 8 rebounds. He will get help in the frontcourt from senior Ryan O’Hara, who averaged 6.4 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Coach: Shawn Reed, sixth season, 97-63
2015-16: 28-8, 19-1 KCAC
Outlook: The Tabor men went undefeated through the conference, and only a loss to Kansas Wesleyan kept the Bluejays women from matching that feat. Once again, Tabor is the choice to win the league, receiving 11 of 12 first-place votes. Reed will rely on three experienced seniors, especially 5-11 forward Tena Loewen, who averaged 9.4 points and 7.4 rebounds. She was an NAIA second-team All-American and first-team All-KCAC pick. Former Butler Community College and Heights standout Jurnee Reid (5-9) and Kaleigh Troxell (5-9) are also back after making the All-KCAC second and third team. Sophomore guard Morgan Ediger was KCAC Freshman of the Year, averaging 6.0 points and 2.5 rebounds.
3. Saint Mary
Coach: Bruce Erickson, fourth season, 28-57
2015-16: 12-16, 8-12 KCAC
Outlook: Saint Mary faces a rebuilding job, facing the task of replacing leading scorer and rebounder Imani White as well as solid contributors Andrea McClary (third-leading scorer and rebounder) and Imani White (second-leading rebounder). The Spires return 6-foot junior guard Kelsey Switzer, their second-leading scorer who was honorable mention All-KCAC her first two years. Saint Mary’s fourth-leading scorer, 5-7 junior guard Ashley Hinkle, will also be back. To fill in the gaps, Erickson has hit the community-college ranks hard, bringing in four guards, including 5-8 twins Crystal and Candy de los Reyes from Ohlone (Calif.) College; and 5-5 Cassidy Harbert, who comes to Saint Mary from Kansas City Community College but is a Northwest graduate.
4. Oklahoma Wesleyan
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Coach: Keith Ferguson, first season
2015-16: 10-19, 6-14 KCAC
Outlook: Ferguson, a Lindsborg native and Bethany alum, takes over as Swedes coach after Brett Morehouse opted after three years to be closer to home in Montana. Most recently, Ferguson was an assistant coach at Fresno State, but before that he served as an assistant at Hutchinson Community College. Ferguson also has been a head coach at Brown Mackie (2007-09) and Barton Community College (2009-11). His Barton team recorded a 21-11 season and was Jayhawk Conference runnerup. At Brown Mackie, he led the Lions to their first 20-victory season. The Swedes boast one of the taller players in the conference in 6-2 Kimi Lindshield, who averaged 8.7 points last year and led the team in rebounding. Also back is 5-11 forward-center Sydney Ahaneku and 5-3 guard Ciera Wong. Heights product Ashlee Ivy, a junior, is redshirting after transferring from Washburn.
Coach: Bruce Tate, 10th season, 97-166
2015-16: 12-18, 9-11 KCAC
Outlook: Ottawa embraced the spoiler role all the way to the KCAC Tournament final, falling to top-seeded Tabor 59-53. Along the way, the Braves scored road upsets at Oklahoma Wesleyan (69-64) and second-seeded Friends (71-63). Ottawa returns its top two scorers from last season in seniors Ashley Romig, a 6-foot center, and Madi Stewart, a 5-9 guard. Romig averaged 14.8 points and Stewart 13.2 points and 5.6 rebounds. Romig was a first-team All-KCAC pick, and Stewart was honorable mention. Also returning is senior Jessica King, who scored 12 points in the upset of Oklahoma Wesleyan. There will also be another Romig on the court, as younger sister Melanie is a freshman from Waverly. In the backcourt, senior Kaylee Williams will be healthy after having to deal with injuries and the death of her grandmother in her first season at Ottawa.
Coach: Whitney Corley, second season, 14-47
2015-16: 14-18, 11-9 KCAC
Outlook: Southwestern has maintained a connection with Bishop Carroll, and the Moundbuilders’ top returning players include 6-fppt junior Jordyn Miller, who led Southwestern in scoring last year (13.5 points), and senior guard Kayla Demel, who averaged 5.3 points. Corley will have to get more production to offset the loss of another Carroll product, Jana Reichenberger, who led the team in rebounds (7.7 rpg) and was second to Miller in scoring (11.2). Junior guard Taylor Henderson averaged 7.4 points, and senior guard-forward Kenzi Taylor averaged 5.2. Senior guard Me’Shelle Parker registered a team-leading 35 steals. But the key is Miller, who started 25 games as a sophomore, hitting 48.4 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line.
Coach: K.C. Bassett, third season, 24-37
2015-16: 11-19, 9-11 KCAC
Outlook: Sterling returns three players who averaged double-figure scoring a year ago in senior Hailey Davis, a 5-7 guard from Haven who averaged 16.3 points and 5.6 rebounds. She was an honorable-mention NAIA All-American, a unanimous pick to the All-KCAC first team and a member of the KCAC All-Defensive Team. Joining her is junior Jordin Greer, who averaged 12.2 points and 4.6 rebounds. The Hoisington product was an honorable mention pick on the All-KCAC team. Junior Jessica Princ will cover the post for the Warriors. The 5-9 Osborne product averaged 10 points and 6.5 rebounds. The Warriors notched victories over KCAC rivals Kansas Wesleyan and Friends along the way. Among Bassett’s newcomers are 5-10 junior forwards Kilee Harris from Barton County Community College and Samantha Mosley from Milwaukee. She also landed a hometown product in freshman Kylah Comley, who will help returning sophomores Kennedy Sokolowski (5.5 points) and Kortney Ricke in the backcourt.
Coach: Adam Esses, first season
2015-16: 6-18, 4-16 KCAC
Outlook: Esses comes to the Threshers from Kaskaskia (Ill.) Community College, where he was both athletic director and women’s coach. Bethel returns 12 players, including senior Elise Gerlach from Mulvane by way of Cowley College. Gerlach, a 5-5 guard, averaged 10.8 points and 3-2 rebounds. Also returning is 5-8 junior Kylee Schunn, a Remington High product who averaged 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds. Bethel also will gain the services of two guards who redshirted last season, JDaijon Sumpter, a 5-4 junior, and Alyjah Kennedy, a 5-6 freshman.
11. Kansas Wesleyan
Coach: Ryan Showman, fifth season, 71-52
2015-16: 17-14, 8-12 KCAC
Outlook: The Coyotes will be emphasizing guard play and return three players who combined for an average of 27.2 points during their junior season. Jenna Farris, a 5-9 guard, was the team’s leading scorer last year (14.5 points), and is the team’s leading rebounder among returning players. Farris shot a team-best 79 percent from the free-throw line. Fellow senior Karlie Steinle (5-8) averaged 9.6 points and led the team in assists. Among those also returning for Showman are Maize South graduate Sydney Mortenson, a 5-9 sophomore guard, and Jayden Dennis, a 5-4 senior from Northeast Magnet. Additional playing time this season should boost their scoring average.
Coach: Gordon Reimer, third season, 14-47
2015-16: 11-19, 9-11 KCAC
Outlook: McPherson will be putting a young team out on the floor, having graduated its top two scorers in forward Ashton Bruner and guard Bailey Brown. Replacing them will be a tall order for Reimer, in his third season with the Bulldogs after eight seasons at Kansas Wesleyan. Sophomore forward Amanda Allen and sophomore guard Kristina Battle are the leading returning scorers at 6.1 and 5.4 points. The lone junior, guard Reagan McClellan, was second on the team in steals with 41.