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UAB men’s basketball team is the preseason Conference USA favorite, and guard Jelly Walker was selected as the Preseason C-USA Player of the Year. Walker and Eric Gaines were selected to the preseason all-conference team.

The Blazers received nine of the 11 first-place votes and had 119 overall points. Western Kentucky (102 points, first place vote), North Texas (100 points, first place vote), Middle Tennessee (87 points), FAU (86 points), Louisiana Tech (63 points), Rice (51 points), UTEP (41 points), Charlotte (39 points), FIU (20 points) and UTSA (18 points) round out the voting.

Walker was the C-USA Player of the Year last season after averaging 20 points and 4.5 assists for a UAB team that played in the NCAA Tournament. Walker averaged 36 points in the C-USA Tournament to lead the Blazers to the championship.

Gaines is a transfer from LSU, who is expected to join Walker to make a formidable backcourt duo for the Blazers. He averaged nine points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.1 steals last season at LSU.

UAB is one of two teams with more than one player on the preseason all-conference team. Western Kentucky had three players on the team — guards Emmanuel Akot and Dayvion McKnight and center Jamarion Sharp.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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