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DENVER — The University of New Mexico picked up a host of honors as the Mountain West announced its annual preseason polls and all-conference teams, and the Lobos were at the head of the list.
The Lobos picked up 22 of 26 first place votes as UNM was predicted to win the 2011-12 Mountain West title.
In addition, Wooden Award candidate Drew Gordon was named Preseason Player of the Year, while highly-touted Australian import Hugh Greenwood was selected as Freshman of the Year. Gordon and sophomore guard Kendall Williams were both named to the five-man preseason All-Mountain West team.
It’s the first time that the Lobos have ever topped the Mountain West preseason poll. New Mexico garnered 22 of 26 first place votes for 203 points in the poll, finishing ahead of UNLV, who picked up the other four first place votes and totaled 183 points.
San Diego State, which won the MW tournament title in 2010, was picked third with 158 points, and Colorado State was fourth with 119 points.
For Gordon, the preseason Player of the Year honor marks his second straight preseason honor. He was named the preseason Conference Newcomer of the Year.
Last season, Gordon played in 26 games after sitting out the first nine due to NCAA transfer regulations. He averaged 13.0 points and 10.5 rebounds with UNM in 2010-11.
That marked the first time since 1976 that a Lobo averaged a double-double for the season.
Gordon’s 189 rebounds in conference play broke the MW junior class record, and he was the only Mountain West player selected to the 2011-12 John Wooden Watch List for national player of the year.
Gordon and Kendall Williams were two of five players selected to the preseason All-Mountain West team, joining a pair of UNLV Rebels in Oscar Bellfield and Chace Stanback and TCU’s Hank Thorns.
Williams is the reigning Mountain West Freshman of the Year after a stellar rookie campaign in which he became the second Lobo in school history to record over 400 points in his first campaign, and just the sixth in MW history to accomplish that feat. His 55 three-pointers topped the Lobo squad, and he was ranked in seven MW top-10 offensive categories.
Greenwood, fresh off whirlwind summer of international play, was picked as the preseason Freshman of the Year.
A veteran of over 50 international contests, Greenwood took first team All-Tournament honors at the FIBA U-19 World Championships in Latvia, leading Australia in scoring with a 17.1 scoring average. He added 4.0 rebounds, and 2.6 assists as well, and capped his tournament with a 26-point outburst against the United States in his final game of the tournament.
Here are the Mountain West men’s basketball poll results. First-place votes are in parentheses:
1. New Mexico (22), 203.
2. UNLV (4), 183.
3. San Diego State, 158
4. Colorado State, 119.
5. Air Force, 78.
6. Wyoming, 68.
7. TCU, 64.
8. Boise State, 63.
Preseason All-Mountain West Team
Oscar Bellfield, UNLV; Drew Gordon, New Mexico; Chace Stanback, UNLV; Hank Thorns, TCU; Kendall Williams, New Mexico.
Preseason Player of the Year
Drew Gordon, New Mexico
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Xavier Thames, So., G, San Diego State
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Hugh Greenwood, New Mexico