GCU selected to repeat as women’s hoop champion; GCU’s Smith tabbed as Player of Year

Maylinn Smith PHOENIX, Ariz.Grand Canyon junior guard Maylinn Smith (Mesa, AZ/Mesquite) has been selected the Pacific West Conference Preseason Player of the Year, while her Antelopes have been picked to repeat as the champions of the PacWest.

The conference unveiled the PacWest Women’s Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team and Predicted Order of Finish live during the PacWest Women’s Basketball Media on Thursday, Nov. 1, on KQCK in San Tan Valley, Ariz. KQCK is the home of the weekly PacWest Radio Show that is broadcast worldwide on the Internet in high definition audio and video.

Smith, the 2011-12 PacWest Player of the Year and a two-time all-conference selection, also was one of seven players named to the PacWest Preseason All-Conference squad. She was a First Team choice in 2011-12 and an Honorable Mention in 2010-11.

Smith led the Antelopes to the NCAA II West Regional and a conference title by averaging 16.2 points per game. She shot 40.8% (51 for 125) from beyond the arc and made 86.2% (119 for 138) of her free throw attempts. She also had 78 assists, 45 steals and averaged 3.9 rebounds per contest.

Simone Holmes The Antelopes received 11 of a possible 14 first-place votes and totaled 192 points in the predicted order of finish voted upon by the head coaches of the conference. Grand Canyon finished 24-4 overall last year with a 15-3 mark in the conference.

California Baptist claimed the remaining three first-place votes and is picked to finish second (173 points), while Dixie State is third with 171 and Azusa Pacific fourth with a 150. The Red Storm wound up third in the PacWest last season with a 13-5 conference record and an 18-8 overall mark, while Azusa Pacific was 26-8 in its final season before competing in the PacWest.

Academy of Art (131), Hawai‘i Pacific (127) and Point Loma (102) round out the top seven teams in the preseason picks, respectively, while Hawai‘i Hilo (86) is slated eighth and Fresno Pacific (80) picked to take ninth.

BYU-Hawaii (76) and Notre Dame de Namur (70) wound up 10th and 11th, respectively, while Dominican and Holy Names share 12th with 40 points each. Chaminade is picked 14th with 26 total points.

In addition to Smith, the PacWest Preseason All-Conference Team featured six other players, including two each from Dixie State and California Baptist.

Becca Thomas Dixie State junior forward Johnna Brown (Las Vegas, NV/Centennial) and senior center Becca Thomas (Riverside, CA/Redwood) each landed on the preseason squad.

Thomas eanred Second Team honors last year after averaging 11.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. She shot 51.0% from the floor and bumped up her scoring in conference action to 13.4 points per game over 18 starts.

Brown, who is an All-PacWest softball and women’s basketball player, returns to the court after a one-year hiatus and expects to have an immediate impact on the team. She was the 2009-10 Freshman of the Year in the PacWest, earning All-PacWest Second Team honors that season.

In 2010-11, she made the First Team by averaging 17.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest while shooting 55.6% from the field. She also totaled 88 assists over 27 starts while committing 47 steals.

California Baptist also landed a pair of preseason all-conference selections in senior guards Myriah Hicks (Springfield, MO/Central) and Simone Holmes (Phoenix, AZ/South Mountain).

Alisa Griggs Hicks earned First Team honors last season after averaging 14.0 points per game, while Holmes claimed Second Team accolades by posting 13.2 points per outing.

BYU-Hawaii senior forward Shayla Washington (Phoenix, AZ/Trevor Browne) - the 2011-12 Newcomer of the Year and a First Team selection in the PacWest – landed on the preseason team after a stellar campaign last season that saw her average 18.8 points per game while pulling down 8.5 rebounds per contest.

Academy of Art junior Alisa Griggs (Milwaukie, OR/Oregon City) rounds out the PacWest Preseason All-Conference Team thanks to a 13.8 points-per-game average and a 7.7 rebounds-per-game mark.