Tyson Etienne wins Preseason Player of the Year


Sean Marty / The Sunflower

Sophomore Tyson Etienne drives towards the basket during Shocker Madness on Oct. 12 inside Charles Koch Arena.

Wichita State sophomore Tyson Etienne was voted as the preseason player of the year by the American Athletic Conference coaches, it was announced on Wednesday.  The Shockers were also picked to finish in fourth place, after winning the regular season title one season ago.

Etienne took home co-player of the year honors last season after leading the Shockers to its first place finish. Etienne averaged 16.3 points and a school-record 2.95 three pointers on 39.2 percent accuracy. Etienne was also a unanimous selection to the preseason all-conference first team, making him the first Shocker to make the preseason first team since Landry Shamet in 2017.

“For me winning preseason player of the year is cool, but at the end of the day, my team is still picked fourth after winning the conference last year,” Etienne said. “So, I definitely feel a certain way about that, I know the rest of my teammates, our coaching staff, feels a type of way about that. But it’s cool, they picked us to finish seventh last year and we ultimately finished first so we still have that chip on our shoulder.”

Houston was picked to win the conference, after earning eight of the 11 first-place votes and 98 total points. Memphis took home second-place with 92 points and earned the other three first-place votes. SMU (77) edged out Wichita State (76) for third-place by a single point.

Fifth-through-eighth spots went to UCF (66), Cincinnati (52), Tulsa (43), Temple (37). South Florida and Tulane tied for ninth-place with 25 points, followed by East Carolina (14).

“Coming into the summer, I was unsure how we would be picked,” head coach Isaac Brown said. “We have a young basketball team, we’ve got six new faces, so the fact that we were picked fourth, I could see that having a young team. Last year they’re weren’t any expectations. We were picked seventh and when coach (Marshall) resigned we were picked at the bottom of the league. I think the biggest thing this year is handling expectations.”

 The Shockers (16-6, 11-2) return four of their top-five scorers from last season’s trip to the NCAA Tournament. In addition to Etienne, returning starters Dexter Dennis and Morris Udeze are back for their fourth seasons. Ricky Council IV made the league’s all-freshman team last season, but Etienne was the lone Shocker to make a preseason all-conference team.

For the women, Wichita State senior forward Asia Strong was named to the Preseason All-Conference First Team.

Strong earned Second Team All-Conference honors a season ago after averaging 15.2 points and 6.6 rebounds a game. Strong scored 10 or more points in all but two games last season, while shooting 42.4 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from beyond the arc. She is the first Shocker to earn Preseason First Team All-Conference honors since WSU joined the American.

“We’re definitely going to be competitive,” Strong said. “We’ve got 15 players and we’re all coming in strong. Our goal is to go to March Madness. We have a full team, the confidence and the great coaches and great chemistry. We’re ready to fight.”

The AAC coaches picked WSU to finish eighth in the 2021-22 American Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Shockers received 36 total votes, just two behind seventh place pick East Carolina. USF enters the season as the conference favorites after receiving 100 points and 10 of the 11 first place votes. UCF, Houston, Tulane and Temple round out the top five spots.

“Last year it was really a challenging season and what we went through, a lot of programs would’ve shut their seasons down but we did not do that,” head coach Keitha Adams said. “I think that’s a testament to our players and how much they love to play and their resilience. I definitely feel that we’re going to benefit from that this year from what we went through last year.”

The Shockers were hit hard by COVID-19 during the 2020-21 campaign and finished with just a 6-12 overall record and 2-9 mark in conference play. The Shockers return 92 percent of their scoring and all five starters from a season ago.

“It definitely helps you in practice when you’re able to put five returners on the floor and they can show the newcomers what our system is and how we do things. That helps the process of the teaching with your new players. That makes a big difference in your practices.”

Both programs are set to begin their seasons with exhibition games against Missouri Southern State in early November, with the men’s taking place Nov. 1 and the women’s on Nov. 4.