St. Louis, Mo., Nov. 2, 2017 – The Washington University in St. Louis men's basketball team is ranked No. 9 in the 2017-18 D3hoops.com Preseason Top-25 Poll, as announced by the website Thursday.
WashU returns three starters and 18 letterwinners from last year's squad that posted a 21-6 overall record and won its 14th University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship. The Bears also advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Senior forward Andrew Sanders, a preseason All-American selection by Street & Smiths, is the Bears' top returning scorer. Sanders averaged a team-high 16.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in 27 starts for the Bears a year ago. He was a first-team all-UAA selection and was third in the league in scoring.
Senior point guard Kevin Kucera was a first-team all-UAA selection last year after starting all 27 games. Kucera averaged 11.3 points and a team-high 6.4 assists per game. Senior David Schmelter started 27 games at center averaging 7.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He was fourth in the UAA in blocks (37).
Senior forward Matt Highsmith (11.2 ppg), senior guard Jake Knupp (8.2 ppg) and junior center Marcus Meyer (3.0 ppg) also return after seeing significant minutes off the bench a year ago. Knupp was the 2016-17 NCAA Division III leader in assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.89.
Head coach Mark Edwards will toe the sidelines for his 37th season at his alma mater. Edwards has recorded a 663-289 (.696) overall record, and is the fifth active winningest coach and 12th all-time in NCAA Division III history. He has guided WashU to 33-consecutive winnings seasons.
2017 national semifinalist Whitman College enters the season as the No. 1-ranked team in Division III. The Blues finished with a 31-1 record a year ago.
The Bears will face three teams ranked in the preseason top-25: No. 2 Augustana College (Ill.), No. 16 University of Rochester and No. 17 Emory University.
WashU begins the 2017-18 season hosting the 34th Annual Lopata Classic on Friday-Saturday, Nov. 17-18. The Bears take on Wabash College Friday at 7 p.m. in the season opener.