PIKEVILLE – For the second straight season, staff from Sporting News picked the University of Pikeville as the preseason favorite in NAIA Men’s Basketball, according to a top-10 poll included in their national college basketball preview which hit newsstands in September.
In addition to the top-10, the outlet also released five-member First and Second Preseason All-American Teams. UPIKE senior guard K.K. Simmons was listed in the first group, while his backcourt classmate Macari Brooks made the second team.
The Bears, winners of 59 games in the past two seasons, ended the 2014-15 season ranked sixth in the NAIA Postseason Top-25 after advancing to the NAIA National Tournament quarterfinals.
To make its fourth straight trip to nationals in 2016, UPIKE will rely on Simmons (19.6 ppg) and Brooks (15.9 ppg), as well as veteran returners Colt Chapman, Jackson Hussey, Christian Leach and Trey Rakes. Six transfers will also be in the mix as the team looks to make up for the loss of NAIA Player of the Year Kenny Manigault who poured in 19.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as a senior.
Head coach Kelly Wells and his Bears are scheduled to open the regular season on Oct. 26, hosting Central Penn College at the East Ky. Expo Center. UPIKE has won 40 straight games on its home floor.
The first public appearance for the team will come during the Basketball Blast-Off, scheduled for Oct. 21 in the UPIKE Gym.